Edward James Young
Mr. YOUNG (Weyburn):
Was there any
corresponding reduction in the price of the cars?
Mr. YOUNG (Weyburn):
Was there any
corresponding reduction in the price of the cars?
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
I will let
my hon. friend answer that, he is an authority on that question. In the steel industry, to which reference was made by the hon. member who preceded me, seven men now do the work of sixty in the casting of pig iron and two men do the work of 125 in its loading. One man replaces forty-two men in the open hearth furnace. In the machine and repair shops of the railways you will find the following condition: One man replaces 25 men, using
five to ten semi-automatic machines; four men in five to seven hours can do what it took eight men three weeks to do in the repairing of locomotives. This latter change is due almost entirely to the introduction of the acetylene torch. In 1914, which is the basic year with which most of these comparisons are made, it took from fifteen to thirty hours to turn one pair of locomotive tires. To-day, in eight hours the same man power can turn six pairs of locomotive tires. Why, Mr. Speaker, I could go on almost inimitably illustrating the extraordinary change in production capacity which machines have made in our modern human life. One more illustration: A single machine in the city of Chicago produces 40,000 bricks an hour. Formerly it took one man eight hours to produce 450 bricks.
Can the hon. member tell us anything about the man power the combine has saved in the west?
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
Some four years ago I think western Canada had three or
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
four combines; we were just beginning to be interested in them. I think last year it was estimated-I am not certain of these figures, but they are approximately accurate-that there were between 5,000 and 6,000 combines. Each machine is estimated to displace from five to ten men, depending upon its size.
Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):
More than that.
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
we will say ten men to the combine on the average. In other words, we need 60,000 harvesters less each year, or a number equivalent almost to the entire harvester excursions which formerly moved from east to west. That alone is a significant fact in connection with this whole discussion.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I turn for one moment to Great Britain. I find that one of the greatest authorities there, Mr. Arthur Kitson, who is a manufacturer, an authority on financial questions and also president of the British Banking Reform League, says:
It is quite certain that the need for labour must become less and less with the growth of inventions and the increase in industrial efficiency. Indeed the real problem we have to solve is not so much that of finding constant employment for our people as our supplying them with life's necessities and comforts out of the abundance of goods created. Even to-day the labour of less than 10 per cent of the population will readily suffice to maintain the entire inhabitants of this country in a high state of comfort. Suppose discoveries and inventions during the next half century result in the displacement of all manual labour by machinery, must the bulk of the 'world's inhabitants then perish?
Is work to be the sole basis of living, Mr. Speaker? We will have to answer that question sooner or later. Sir Charles Sykes, a Yorkshire manufacturer, says:
The problem of unemployment or its cause is not due to a defective system of production, but to a defective system of distribution.
As I said, I could continue almost endlessly with illustrations of how jobs are vanishing from under the hands and eyes of the workers of the world. We find a striking illustration reported by the United States department of labour, whose report, referring to the copper refining industry, says:
The figures show that during this period of nine years,-
That is, from 1918 to 1927.
-the number of men employed was reduced from 578 to 233, with a coincident increase of about 10 per cent in total output.
Then you find another in the automobile business as a whole; you find since 1922, that 1,400 per cent more cars are produced with
only ten per cent more men employed. It would be unfair for me to conclude this part of my discussion without reference to a newspaper which has done much to educate the public with regard to this question. I refer to the Ottawa Citizen. In an editorial appearing some time ago it dealt with this situation, and hon. members might compare this editorial with the statement of Sir Charles Sykes, the Yorkshire manufacturer, with that of Mr. Arthur Ivitson, or with any other authority dealing with the question, and a striking similarity in their conclusions will be found. The editorial states:
If every able-bodied adult in Canada were set to -work eight hours a day at productive labour, there would result such a surplus of production that the factories would be closed clown in a very short time, even if the goods were given away, simply because the power to produce is greater than the- power-but not the capacity-to consume.
That the increase of purchasing power among the masses of the people is a necessary first step towards industrial prosperity is recognized by students of up to date economics. So far as unemployment is concerned, it seems logical that the one solution is to find some way of diminishing the hours of labour without reducing the purchasing power of the individual.
That is only a part.
Whether the present industrial system can be reorganized on this basis is a question for discussion and solution. The fact remains, however, that only along this line does improvement seem possible. It is not debatable that improvement should be made, if possible, by orderly rather than violent means.
At this stage perhaps I should draw just one more comparison. Not long ago I picked up a United States publication called Labour, coming from Washington, under date of December 14, 1929. In that publication I find the following editorial:
Fewer Workers, Less Pay-And More Work
Some figures in the last report of the Interstate Commerce Commission are very important if not wholly pleasant reading for railroad workers.
The average number of rail employees in the United States during 1928 was 1,656,411, and their total pay was $2,826,590,000.
This is a drop, in round numbers, of 79,000 employees and of $84,000,000 in compensation as compared to the year 1927.
At the same time, the reduced force of workers in 1928 handled 4,073,000,000 more ton-miles of revenue freight than the larger force handled the previous year.
Hon. gentlemen may reply, "But that is the United States, we do not have that terrible situation existing in this country." In order to give a comparison in this country I will quote Senator Robertson, the former Minister of Labour in the Meighen cabinet. That gentleman points out that the Canadian railways
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
employed 9,000 fewer men in 1927 than they did in 1920, and paid them 123,000,000 less in wages. This in spite of the fact that there was an increase of 1,500 miles of railways operated during that period and an increase of about 30 per cent in the volume of traffic handled.
I think these facts speak eloquently for themselves. I wish I had the striking delivery and verbiage of some of our older statemen. No finer picture could be drawn of what is actually taking place at this moment, and of what has existed for the past twelve years, than the picture drawn by Disraeli himself of similar conditions which existed in his day. Over eighty years ago these words were uttered by Disraeli:
A spirit of rapacious covetousness desecrating all the humanities of life ... is our besetting sin.
The words used by Disraeli were "England's besetting sin." The quotation continues:
The altar of mammon has blazed with triple worship. To acquire, to accumulate, to plunder each other by virtue of philosophic phrases, to propose a Utopia to consist only of wealth and toil, this has been our breathless business for the last twelve years, until we are startled from our voracious strife by the wail of intolerable serfage.
The hon. member for North Winnipeg and his colleague represent the wail of intolerable serfage; the rest of you may place yourselves where you will.
Perhaps sufficient has been said regarding immigration and its effect on unemployment in Canada, but I wish simply to point out one fact which may be of interest. During the last two years there is no doubt that unemployment has existed, and that it has been known to the Minister of Labour and to the Minister of Immigration. During that period 331,775 immigrants were brought into Canada. The unemployment condition was such, particularly in the west, that protests were registered. Western cities sent delegations to Ottawa, and correspondence took place between the premiers and the Minister of Labour. But has there been a cessation? Have the gates been closed until unfortunate Canadians have found jobs? Not a bit of it. During the one month of January, 1930, 290 immigrants were admitted to Canada, destined for the province of Alberta alone. This has been done in the face of protests which have been lodged with the federal government. Is there one industry in Canada in which there is at the present time any shortage of labour? If there is not, then for heaven's sake let us close the gates at least a little while until employment can be given to the men already here.
What about the 8,000 who are coming in?
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
Let us hope that we may be able to stop them.
They are coming.
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
That then is most unfortunate. Mr. Stuart Chase has treated this subject most eloquently. He asks the question, "Have you ever hunted a job, and if so, have you ever hunted a job when you were over forty years of age? If you have not done that, you do not know the tragedy of unemployment and you have no conception of what it does to the heart and soul of a human being, of what it does to his family." Have you ever heard a wife say, "Well, Jim is lucky if he can hold his job," or "John does not know when he will be out of work, perhaps to-morrow or maybe the day after." There is no permanency or no continuity offered to our workers under the present economic system. Without saying that it is the deliberate voracious rapacity to which Disraeli referred, it is evident that there is something wrong with a system which denies to the labouring man a permanency of employment. He does not know from day to day or from week to week whether or not the job upon which his family depends is going to continue. Such conditions are a disgrace to any civilized country. The whole thing is wrong, and Professor Soddy sums it up as follows:
_ On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays science invents new methods of abolishing labour, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays new labours to relieve the consequent unemployment. This farce should cease.
Until he is placed in employment again he must remain a stranger to the buying market. In the meantime the community must care for him and his family in much the same way as though he were a steady permanent worker. But the unemployed are not cared for in any permanent way. They sometimes receive miserable charity, a thing which degrades and demoralizes their morals and reduces them to the miserable condition of almost industrial serfage. Public confidence is shaken and I say to the Prime Minister that his own government even is feeling the 'tremors of uncertainty caused by this unemployed situation.
There follows upon it immediately a curtailment of credit which deprives further numbers of employment, resulting in a greater decline of buying power which leads to a further reduction of credit and so on. The whole thing is a most extraordinary, uncontrolled, vicious system, governed only by the profits which those who control credit can make, and this is
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
the fundamental factor which governs the system under which we are to-day operating. I say to the Prime Minister that until he and his colleagues appoint a body to make a survey of economic and social conditions, a commission capable of intelligently analyzing this situation, he has not taken any step in the direction of a real solution of this problem. Unemployment and under-employment are two of the most destructive diseases which can visit any community, national or international. They render a human being physically unfit; they weaken his moral as well as his physical fibre so that when work does offer the man is unable to compete with those who have been in steady employment. One wretched condition leads to another. If this thing is permitted to go on it will sap the whole vitality and vigour of all nations; for this thing is not confined alone to our country. Children brought up under such conditions must inevitably be less virile, less conscious of their possible powers, than those brought up under privileged circumstances. Can the child in a home where they do not know from day to day where tomorrow's bread is coming from; can the child in a home dependent upon some form of charity, have the same self-respect as have your own children? The words are not at my command to bring home as I would like to this House of Commons and to the country the misery of this appalling cancer of unemployment and its effect upon the country.
I do not think it would be unfitting to state that I have no desire to make any political capital out of this matter, but perhaps it would not be out of place if we had a little cynical amusement at the expense of the Minister of Labour. I hope hon. members have recognized that I have made this an absolutely non-partisan question. It is a nonpartisan question and must remain so. It is a problem the solution of which will require the massed intelligence of the people, the best brains we can procure. It is going to be worth while trying to find a solution. But here let me glance back to 1925 and read the following words:
I am sure there is no need for me to argue that unemployment prevails on a very large scale. We have had delegations to the government at Ottawa, and we have recently had a delegation to this government at Toronto. Up to date, there does not seem to have been very much done to relieve the situation, other than one body "passing the buck" to another party.
These, Mr. Speaker, are the words of the Hon. Peter Heenan, M.P.P.,speaking before the members of the provincial legislature of Ontario. At that time he deplored any attitude of 2419-77
"passing the buck." He referred to it in terms of contempt. I ask him frankly, as one member of the community to another, as one who is anxious to cooperate with him: Does he not
think he to-day is "passing the buck"? And to the Prime Minister I say: Would it not
be rather the part of courage and statesmanship to start out now and say definitely: We will accept the responsibility for initiating a scheme of unemployment insurance? I will give the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour all my support in any program they wish to outline that will offer some relief- and that is all it would be at the moment-to this wretched unemployment problem.
But I continue. The Minister of Labour in the same address made a most eloquent appeal. He referred to the vast power of the country to produce, to its great resources, to its great plant capable of producing 20 per cent more than it was producing. He referred to the financial conditions, the amount of money there was in the country, and he almost wept tears because we were unable to solve the problem of unemployment. But he comes down to this towards the close of his speech:
Men are out of work here because of irregular and uneven demand for labour. Some definite step ought to be taken now. Any government, which fails or refuses to help its people to procure the necessities of life, cannot hope to retain the loyalty of its people.
I am afraid the minister's statement at that time was but prophecy. Any government which neglects this appalling problem and fails to make some constructive contribution towards its solution, will undoubtedly lose the loyalty of the people of this country. The hon. member concluded with the following:
I have dwelt at considerable length in connection with this question, because to my mind it is the most important question we have to contend with, and T sincerely hope that the time I have consumed will not be in vain and that some definite and systematic policy will be laid down by the governments of this country to meet this economic problem.
Not the Ontario government nor the Alberta government, nor any provincial government did he refer to specifically; he said: "The
governments of this country." If we are to wait until provincial governments take the initiative, I am afraid we shall have to wait for a long time. At this particular point let me say this: I cannot strain or stress too
vigorously the thought that this problem is a state problem and that the federal government as a major element in the state cannot reject its responsibility.
The Russell Sage Foundation, which by the way is an organization that was formed in
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
order to make an inquiry into the social and economic conditions of the United States and Canada, has this to say:
The study touched seventy cities and thirty-one states and Canada:
Widespread unemployment is now a constant phenomenon with far-reaching economic social, psychological and moral bearings. It found that from one to six millions each year were out of work for weeks and sometimes months at a time. In Great Britain unemployment had become so general for several years before the war that the government had been compelled to inaugurate an unemployment insurance policy in order to relieve the suffering caused by the so-called captains of industry being unable to manage the industry of a nation in the interest of the whole.
Now I turn to one who might be regarded as an even greater authority than the Russell Sage Foundation. This authority says:
The sacredness of human personality is more important than all other considerations. Without infinite regard for individual life, however obscure or deformed, impressions of social values are meaningless. Estimates of national power, pride in industrial growth, forecasts_ of world expansion-any and all of these which reckon material gains apart from human losses they involve, mistake for life itself the course texture of but a part of the garment of life.
The same authority goes on, and this is particularly relevant:
When idleness is the fault of the social order rather than of the individual concerned, it places the onus on the state to safeguard its own assets, namely, human beings.
That authority is the Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada. He himself placed the responsibility on the state and he cannot now relinquish his share of the responsibility. If this problem is not tackled we admit that the law of the jungle prevails.
I might refer to other authorities who have made much the same statements. We have Brandeis, Couzens; we have the Minister of Labour in the United States and dozens of others who are steadily recognizing the state's responsibility to its own citizens.
But I must conclude. In this section of the house we are, so far as I know at the moment, unanimous to this degree; we ask that the government immediately initiate some sort of unemployment insurance which can be applied to all the provinces and which will depend upon concurrent legislation by them, involving, if you will, contributions by employer and employee. That is just one phase of the question. I now formally ask the Prime Minister to institute this year a survey into the whole economic and social structure of the country, a survey by Canadian economists-he will not have to go outside of Canada to find suitable men-in order that they may advise him as to a permanent solu-
tion of the problem. It is an honour to second the resolution of the hon. member for North Winnipeg.
Mr. ADSH'EAD: Does my hon. friend not
think that the statement made by the Minister of Labour in London bound the cabinet and the government to something?
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
I have not read the statement, I say frankly, and so I cannot tell.
Mr. THOMAS CANTLEY (Pictou):
Mr. Speaker, I take it that it is not necessary to enter into any argument to prove that there is a very large amount of unemployment in this country. I wish to thank the hon.. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) for having brought this matter to the attention of the house. With a great deal of what he has said I am in complete accord. With some of his statements, however, I cannot agree. For instance, he made this statement:
It is claimed by economists that during the past twenty years production has approximately doubled, but wages, that is, real wages, have remained almost stationary. That means that the position of the workingman has become relatively worse instead of better. When production becomes greater and greater, when we are able to produce more of the things of life, the position of the workingman should be better, but we find that it is exactly the reverse.
Speaking broadly, I think it will be admitted that the position of the working man and his family as regards not only the necessities of life but also its comforts and its sources of enjoyment is better to-day than it was, say ten, twenty or thirty years ago. As to that I do not think there can be any argument. I have lived all my life among a working people, coal miners, steel workers, artisans of various kinds. I know their scale of living is better and their opportunities for recreation are greater now, I am glad to say, than they were thirty years ago.
Again, the hon. gentleman stated:
It requires to-day a smaller number of men to produce a given quantity of commodities and that is why less labour is required and why therefore the amount of unemployment should become greater and greater.
To overcome that difficulty of growing and increasing unemployment, he suggests that what is required is a decreased working day and an increased purchasing power on the part of the masses. I fully agree that a shorter-working day would give the workmen of this country more time for social enjoyment and self-improvement, and I believe that the great majority of our workmen would take advantage of such opportunities and would benefit very greatly thereby.
With his statement that this question is not provincial, but national in character, I am also in complete accord, as well as with his statement that we cannot expect provincial governments to deal with this vitally important matter, which is really a matter of trade and commerce, and should therefore come within the purview of the federal government, not the provincial authorities.
The Minister of Labour is reported as making the following statement in his recent address in the city of London:
I believe during the time of depression the workers have some claim to the portion of profits made by their labour during favourable years.
I would like here to ask the Minister of Labour this question: How can the labourer obtain, or how can the minister obtain for the workers of Canada, a portion of the profits that they have made by their labour during past years-during say, 1929, or 1928, or during any past year? Does the Minister of Labour propose confiscation? If not, how does he suggest that the labourer can get his share of the fruits of his past labour? There is not much use in the Minister of Labour putting before the working people of this country suggestions of a kind which are absolutely impossible of being carried out.
.So far as seasonal unemployment is concerned, we in Canada, due to climatic conditions, are bound always to have that problem with us to a greater or lesser extent. Such is preeminently the case in the mining centres of Nova Scotia, also elsewhere in Canada, in regard to some other occupations. But the question is much wider than simply one of climatic conditions; it is infinitely more serious than that.
In the matter of the coal output of the Dominion of Canada, I find that for February last, the output was 26 per cent below that of the previous month-January-and 11 per cent below the monthly average of the last five years. On the other hand, I find that our import of coal during February, 1930, was 1,043,041 tons-a substantial increase over the corresponding month of last year, and this notwithstanding the well known slackening up of trade and present unemployment.
While our domestic coal production during February last was 11 per cent below that of the monthly average of the five year preceding period-and many of our coal miners are on short time-the imports of Soviet coal, which began in 1928, increased during 1929, and it is said that they will be still further greatly increased during the coming season. For it is claimed by the coal dealers that a quarter of a million tons of this fuel will be by them 2419-77J
imported into Canada during the coming season. What does that mean? It means that we are asking our miners in the east in particular-it does not apply so much to the west-to compete with Soviet labour. I shall not go into any lengthy disquisition as to what that means, because every man of intelligence in this house knows exactly what it means and what it involves. Should our miners in Nova Scotia be asked, and they are being asked, to compete with Soviet labour under all the degrading conditions that prevail in regard to that particular class of labour in Russia? That Soviet coal is admitted into Canada into Montreal, and to-day lies on the docks of Halifax without paying a cent of duty. It has been coming in, in very considerable quantities and will continue to come in larger quantities unless this government takes action to restrain it of which frankly I have very little hope in view of their past indifference.
Out of this question of unemployment, Mr. Speaker, arises one of the saddest tragedies of life that I know of. That has already been referred to much more ably than I can depict it by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Garland), who has just taken his seat. I know of no experience that is sadder than to see men, the fathers of families with small children at home, men who are able and willing and anxious to work and daily going out to seek it, being unable to find employment; while they and their families are suffering, in consequence, privation and want and distress. Unfortunately, such conditions do prevail in Canada to-day, and men in this condition are to be seen in scores in every considerable town and in all centres of population throughout Canada-from Sydney in the east to Vancouver in the west. I doubt if there was any time during the last fifteen or twenty years when unemployment was greater in Canada than it is to-day, speaking generally with respect to the whole country, and I do not think that the unemployment is confined exclusively to the industrial towns and cities.
One of the most depressing experiences that I have had in recent years is the meeting of a constant stream of men, both heads of families and young men, who besiege my door almost every day while I am home, pleading with me to find employment for them or to intercede on their behalf with the heads of local industrial establishments; and to see, as I have seen day after day for months past, scores of men of the army of the unemployed standing in groups outside the gates of our collieries, steel works, and ear-building plants, looking for employment which is not to be
had. I suppose the same conditions can be seen in other industrial centres in Canada, though I cannot speak of my own knowledge as to that.
Again, consider the scores of young men who, after years of study, graduate from our universities each year, not one-fifth of whom, if indeed, one-tenth, can or do find suitable or congenial employment within the country of their birth, and must perforce go to the United States in search of employment which is denied them in their own country.
Unemployment insurance would probably help a little those who are temporarily unemployed, but at best it is only a palliative. It is no cure. It may help temporarily, I admit, but it is not the cure for unemployment in Canada. Unemployment in Canada is both agricultural and industrial and it is largely due to our vicious fiscal system. Inasmuch as the fiscal policy of the country is under the control of the federal government, who alone can determine the terms on which foreign agricultural and manufactured products may compete with our agriculturists and artisans, the prior obligation as to matters of relief during times of unemployment lies with the federal government, not with the provincial authorities. In my judgment the only effective cure for unemployment as also for the matter of immigration is the inauguration and vigorous application of a national policy which will protect the Canadian producer on the farm and in the mine, and the workers in our manufacturing establishments by damming back the flood of products coming in from other lands where the workers are not enjoying the standard of living which we should like to see generally adopted, and which to a large extent to-day prevails in this country.
Mr. Speaker, I ask the house to consider for a moment the fact that we are importing iron and steel products from the United States alone to the value of over $1,000,000 a day. Now, I state, and I think with some reasonable basis of authority, that seventy-five per cent of those products could be and ought to be produced in Canada, and would be so produced had we reasonable protection. Did such conditions now prevail, it would mean that an army of 200,000 men would find employment during every working day in the year at wages as high as $2,000 per annum. Those facts should be faced, taken into account and definitely dealt with. Why do we send over $1,000,000 a day to our well-to-do steel producing friends across the line, while Canadian furnaces are standing cold and our workers are idle? Why create such a balance of trade against ourselves?
There is but one reason why we do not make the great bulk of that material in Canada, and that is that our fiscal policy is absolutely and stupidly wrong. Again I would point out that responsibility for unemployment rests primarily upon the federal government. My hon. friends opposite may treat this matter lightly, but I want to tell them that they have entirely failed to remedy the situation. For years they have refused to take any effective action. This is not the first time this matter has been brought to their notice, it is not the first time that I and others have called attention to this situation. The government has done nothing. This matter of the iron and steel duties, we have been told, has been before the tariff board for more than three years. We have protested at the lack of definite action, but nothing has been done. What the government now propose to do I do not know; they will not tell us until after the recess and when the matter is dealt with it will, I fear, be in a way that will fail to produce satisfactory results, or the results which I am confident the people as a whole greatly desire. For that reason, and others to which I have referred, I confidently believe that just so soon as the electorate of Canada are given an opportunity to express their views in regard to the continuance of this government in office, they will express themselves in terms which will be unmistakable and which will result in others being called upon to take up the work in which this government has so signally failed.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, in the policy of Canada for Canadians, and that the most effective cure for unemployment is by the introduction and maintenance of such a fiscal policy as will ensure the production in Canada of the largest proportion of our consumptive wants which under a reasonable protective tariff policy our own people can supply, and which will thereby contribute to the greatest good to the greatest number of the people of this Dominion.
Mr. CAMERON R. McINTOSH (North Battleford): Mr. Speaker, since it is within a few minutes of six o'clock, may I move the adjournment of the debate?
All right. May I say
I have listened to the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Cantley) with considerable interest. I was expecting that he would give us a solution of the unemployment problem. I also expected that the hon. member
for Bow River (Mr. Garland) would offer a solution. I regret that neither of these hon. gentlemen put forward any solution.
What solution did the Minister of Labour give?
I will come to that a little later if the hon. member will be patient. The hon. member for Pictou spoke about the results of the coming election and intimated that when the electorate gets an opportunity to express itself upon the issues of the day the party which he supports will be in the majority.
I am glad to hear some hon. members thumping their desks. ,1 realize that that appeals to them. But perhaps they may not be so demonstrative after I have explained the situation from this side. I believe when the electors get an opportunity to express themselves on the issues of the day the result will not be as predicted this afternoon by hon. members opposite. I am confident that after the issues of the day have been discussed from coast to coast and the people have had an opportunity of studying them they will return the present government with a still greater majority than it has at the present time.
You are only fooling yourself, you don't think anything of the kind.
You will be the one who will be fooled when the ballots are counted.