April 7, 1930

LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Minister of the Interior):

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

Would the minister mind

telling us whether those figures include all the men employed in industry in Canada?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

No; it is

impossible to get a record of all the industries in Canada. These figures refer to industries employing fifteen men or more, and any computation of this character of necessity must be brought in>

its application. At any rate, we have improved the employment situation, although I do not mean to argue that we have had and will not continue to have unemployment during the winter season.

We have a very peculiar situation in Canada which does not exist to the same extent in the country to our south. There they have not a cessation of all, or at least a great many, of the agencies of employment, as is the case in Canada. Perhaps I might enumerate some of the difficulties we have to face. Let us consider agriculture: I will venture the

assertion, which I think cannot be contradicted, that at least three-quarters of the men employed upon the farms of Canada will be out of work for three months during the year. Consider the shipping fleets on the great lakes, and our fishermen on inland waters; every one of these men will be out of employment during the winter months, except for a very small number who may continue

fishing through the ice. All the sailors in Canadian bottoms are out of employment for at least three months during the year. In building construction from one end of Canada to the other the same thing applies, and a great many of the employees of the railway systems are affected by this situation also. All maintenance of way men; all those men working on improvements to road beds and other men doing similar work, whose numbers are very large during the summer season, are thrown out of employment for at least three months during the winter. So I think it must be agreed that these large employment agencies throughout Canada must of necessity throw men out of employment during three months of the winter, because of our dlimatic conditions.

Let me repeat that this condition always has prevailed in Canada and I doubt if it can be changed to any considerable extent. The question has occasioned considerable thought by all men who are engaged in the problem of supplying employment to those who desire to work in this country. I do not think any hon. gentleman will deny that while we are perhaps the most favourably situated country in the world with respect to employment, we have the handicap of a seasonal condition of this character, and it is worthy of note that the situation is not worse than it is at the present time. In the United States and Australia, two countries with which we can reasonably make comparison, the situation is very much worse and, as I have pointed out, both countries adopted the remedy suggested by our hon. friends opposite in the hope of improving their economic conditions and thereby improving their labour conditions.

I do not know that I need go very much further into the question of why we happen to have seasonal unemployment in Canada. I am not able to give the number of men who will be unemployed during the season I have mentioned, but I do not think that is material; I think every one must realize that during that three month period a very large number of the men engaged in the industries I have mentioned will be out of employment.

In 1923 we had a conference at which we discussed this very question, and at that conference some suggestions were made which have been adopted by this government. One suggestion was that the government of Canada should, so far as it could conveniently be done, extend its building construction programs into the winter season. I am going to make the suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that that be done to a greater degree, but before I do so may I deal with the matter of immigration.

1316 COMMONS

Unemployment-Mr. Stewart (Edmonton)

I happen to be for the moment the acting minister of that department, and have to do with immigration matters. It has been suggested by hon. gentlemen opposite that the federal government should step into the field of provincial activity and assist in dealing with unemployment because it has brought into this country during the past few years immigrants from the various countries of the world which has added to the difficulty we find ourselves in during the winter seasons. There is no doubt that in any given community the stranger will be the first to suffer from unemployment. He is the first man to be out of work because he does not know conditions; he is not acquainted with the avenues through which he may seek employment and for that reason he is very liable to be found in reasonably sized numbers in any body of unemployed. After he is established and becomes a citizen he is in a better position to provide for himself during the winter season. I do not think it should be said that because of these conditions no one should be allowed into a country like Canada with its sparse population, or that we should say to the world, as some of our sister dominions have said, that we cannot accommodate any more people within our midst. I think that would be going a considerable distance, but I do believe that we should reduce immigration to the minimum in order to be able to face our present and future difficulties.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

What would that minimum be?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

That is a

very difficult question to answer. If my hon. friend were minister of immigration, having to deal with individual cases where good reasons are given for the entry of friends and relatives of people already in Canada, people who are comfortably off and in a position to take care of their friends, and who are prepared to take care of them so that they would not drift into the ranks of the unemployed, I-

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

The minister is not contending that there has been any drastic opposition to that class of immigration?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

I am simply stating my position to my hon. friend. The doors cannot be closed absolutely as there is that class of immigration to be considered. A considerable number of immigrants would come within that class, and I for one believe that it is right and proper that they be admitted. I shall continue to admit them until we

have an arrangement with the provinces which I hope will be brought about, whereby they will undertake the responsibility of saying who shall and who shall not come into their midst.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

What about the entry of those outside of relatives and friends?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

The answer I made the other day to a question raised during the orders of the day still stands. We have an arrangement for the admission of 1,100 or 1,200 trainees, but the greatest difficulty is being experienced in placing even one half of that number, and we are asking that it be reduced to the very minimum. We are also insisting that they be placed where they will not take the place of labour which could be supplied by Canada itself, and they are all being placed on farms.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

What about the 8,000 Europeans coming into Canada?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

I cannot

give a definite answer to my hon. friend except to say that this agreement was made a year ago by my predecessor, when the present situation was not anticipated. The agreement, so far as the bringing in of people is concerned, will expire on May 31. Where people in this country decide to bring friends or relatives from central Europe and where they are in an economic position to take care of such immigrants, I permit them to come in.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Regardless of the financial position of the immigrant?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

In every

case they have some financial backing themselves.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

Does the department

have certain knowledge as to where those people will go after they enter the country?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Yes, they are all going on farms. We have been endeavouring to make an arrangement with the provinces whereby they will accept the responsibility of stating to us the number and the nationality of immigrants which they can absorb into their communities. As far as the federal government is concerned, we are putting no bar in the way of people coming from the old land or from the preferred northern countries provided they are physically and mentally fit, are able to pay their own passage and have sufficient money to maintain themselves for a reasonable time after arrival in this country. I do not believe that the provinces will put any bar in the way of immigra-

Unemployment-Mr. Stewart (Edmonton)

tion of that character. The deputy minister of the department has visited practically all the provinces of Canada, as a matter of fact he is to-day interviewing the Premier of Nova Scotia. He will then have completed interviews with all the provinces, which so far have expressed a willingness to accept the responsibility provided the federal government will undertake to carry on recruiting, to deport when necessary, and to provide the machinery for the securing of such immigrants as are desired by the different provinces. The provinces, on their part, will give us the number and classes of people which they can absorb.

Largely at the request of the provinces, a conference was arranged to discuss this matter. It is to be held early in June so that arrangements may be completed in ample time for application to next year's immigration. I hope that the charge will not be laid at our door that we are contributing to the difficulties of any given province by the bringing in of immigrants. It seems to me that this arrangement is the logical, reasonable and sound thing to do, having in mind that the federal government will no longer have control of the lands and the natural resouces of the western provinces.

I am not unmindful of the fact that the resolution of my hon. friend (Mr. Heaps) calls for immediate action with regard to unemployment. It is unnecessary for me to reiterate the stand of the government which was given to the house by the Prime Minister, and which was stated last fall by the government, that this government stands ready to assist any province which finds itself in a position where it is unable to cope with the situation. No such request has been made to this government, and may I say that I agree most heartily with the statement of the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) who stood in his place the other day and stated most emphatically that he realized that while the initial responsibility rested upon the municipalities and the secondary responsibility was upon the provincial governments, he felt that the federal government could not as well escape responsibility. Upon that occasion he appealed to the federal government to come to the rescue of the poor unemployed. I hate to call such a suggestion absurd, but no one expected the federal government to hand its moneys over to the provincial government in order that the latter might spend them. I am just as much interested as any other hon. member in the welfare of any individual who is out of employment, but no one has so far suggested that the municipalities and the provincial governments are not taking care of the situation, nor have the provincial governments so far stated that owing to their inability, people are not receiving needed assistance.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

What does the minister mean by "inability"? Where is the limit?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

That is a matter for the provincial governments themselves to decide. The federal government stands in exactly the same position as it did last fall; we believe with the hon. member for South Wellington that the matter is a municipal responsibility. If it is too great for the municipalities, then the province must come to the rescue. If it becomes too great for the province, under existing conditions they appeal to the federal government, and in the past when the matter was dealt with in this way, it was dealt with on the basis of one-third from the municipality, one^third from the province, and one-third from the federal government.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) the other day, what would be the use of any province under a Conservative government appealing to this government?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

All I can say to my hon. friend is that he will have to judge us by our past.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Not by your statements.

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April 7, 1930