April 7, 1930

CON

Harry Bernard Short

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SHORT:

The country will decide.

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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):

We are quite willing to let the country decide; we will take our chances with the country. May I say to my hon. friend from Fort William: in the past this government, in connection with old age pensions, farm loans-and these are in the very immediate past-adopted a policy of cooperation with the provincial governments. As regards unemployment, if we are to hand money of the taxpayers of Canada over to the provinces, surely we have a right to make some inquiries as to its disposition.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Or as to their politics.

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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 say nothing about their politics.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The Prime Minister said that.

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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):

Generally

speaking, I think it is a safe and sane policy for any government to pursue to spend under their own direction the money they collect from the taxpayers. No one can quarrel with that, and I think it is a safe and sound proposition. That has been the position of

1318 COMMONS

Unemployment-Mr. Stewart (Edmonton)

the government in the past and I have no doubt it will be the position of the government in the future.

Having dealt with the question of immigration, I want to suggest what I think would assist very materially in relieving the seasonal unemployment which we have for at least, three months of the year. During the winter season the government has carried on in almost every large city of Canada public works under its control, in this way giving employment to men who would otherwise have been out of work. We followed out the policy suggested in the conference of 1923. I should like to see that enlarged. I believe it is possible under modern conditions to carry on in almost every part of Canada building construction during the winter months with very little added cost. I would suggest that the provinces, the municipalities and the railway companies who are large employers of labour, could very well decide that one-half of the money expended in building construction should be expended during the three months that I have mentioned, the off season.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Would the federal government be prepared to pay a share of the additional cost of winter construction?

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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):

We have to bear the responsibility of our own winter construction. Why should my hon. friend ask the federal government to assume one-third of the cost of construction of a public building for a province which is doing exactly the same thing as the federal government is doing in a country like Canada? I do not follow his argument.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Only because the minister suggests it is their policy to ask the provinces to carry on winter construction.

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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 suggesting this merely as a remedy. If someone does not suggest a remedy, no remedy will be forthcoming. The same thing may apply to municipalities. Is there any reason why municipalities should not construct their sewer works in the winter time? We have all seen them doing this. In Ottawa we have had no difficulty in employing men all winter in building a cement wall along the Rideau canal, which is outside work. We have done this every winter for the past four or five years, giving employment to 100 or 125 men during the cold weather. If it is costing a little more money, the federal government has to pay the bill. Very much more could be done in the way of winter employment if the municipali-

ties, the provincial governments and particularly the two great railway systems were to extend their building programs. A large proportion of the outside construction of the Confederation building was carried on during the winter, but I do not believe it has cost the contractor very much more because of that. That kind of thing can be applied all over Canada and it will help a great deal toward absorbing the unemployed in these various activities.

The National railways were requested to give employment to many men who otherwise would have been discharged this winter, and I hope it has not cost the National railways any considerable amount of money to carry out that policy. These men were largely out of employment because our wheat crop did not move and a large proportion of that crop has still to move. The government requested the National railways not to discharge those men but to keep them on during the winter season, and this has helped very materially to relieve the unemployment situation.

If I can speak quite apart from my ministerial responsibilities, I would respectfully suggest, if I may put it in that way, that the municipalities and the provincial governments might go so far, if it were necessary, as to enact legislation so as to carry out the program I have outlined. If this were done it would mean much to the country. A more adequate system of registration will have to be inaugurated and that is one of the matters I want to bring before the conference with respect to immigration. In this way, if men who have settled in any given municipality or any particular part of the country, move from that locality into a city, as they frequently do from farms, railways and elsewhere, it will be possible to fix the responsibility of the municipality from which they come. Something of that kind would help materially to prevent some of the cities from being made the Mecca of many of our unemployed who do not rightfully belong in them.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

This year in my

city of Winnipeg hundreds of men were discharged from the Canadian Pacific who had to be maintained by the city. The city went so far as to send a bill to the Canadian Pacific. Is there any reason why the federal government could not legislate so that the railways would have to take care of their own employees during those three or four months?

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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 was coming to that very point. I know how impossible it is to say to a farmer, for example: You

must do something for the men you dis-

Unemployment-Mr. Stewart (Edmonton)

charge in the fall and do not need until next spring. Perhaps it is a little difficult to say to the railroads and other large employers of labour: You must provide continuous employment for your workers. I think I am safe in saying that generally in our merchant marine in Canada we hear very little about unemployment, and yet the sailors who make up that splendid body of men must be out of employment for four months every year. It is possible that the wages they receive in the summer months carry them through the winter season. I am not familiar enough with the circumstances to know, but I do know that we hear very little from them, and I see no reason why the same conditions should not apply on the railways and with other large employers of labour, who have of necessity to employ a larger number of men during the summer than during the winter season.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Would not that

require legislation?

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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 unable to answer my hon. friend with respect to that. I am not attempting to cure the unemployment situation but am suggesting attacking it first where it is most acute, with our municipalities and within the provincial arena, and of course, as it applies to the railway companies. So far as we are aware, no serious situation exists in eastern Canada. The serious situation, if it can be called such, exists from here westward. While it may be said that the situation is a little more acute just now than in other years, both in the United States and Canada, the fact remains that ever}' year in both countries there is a considerable degree of unemployment during the off-season, and it is to cover the off-season period that I am offering these suggestions to the house.

As I say, we will have a conference on immigration, which is one of the things that it is claimed has some effect on unemployment, and I see no reason why this question should not be discussed at that conference. It might be well to bring together the presidents of the two railway companies and other large employers of labour, who are interested in this question as we are interested, and are desirous of alleviating what is a more or less serious situation for some of those who are unemployed every winter. The provinces will also be represented at that conference. The municipalities largely will not. I do not claim that it is the responsibility of the federal government, but we wish to be helpful as far as we can in this matter, as in other matters, and to have the question discussed, to see how far we can go in proposing schemes that will

be effective in reducing unemployment in this country, having regard particularly to the industries that are employing a large number of workers, some of whom find themselves out of employment during the three months I have mentioned.

That is all that I have to contribute to the debate, Mr. Speaker. I feel that it has wandered very far afield. I have been sitting here listening for some practical suggestions that would cure unemployment, but so far very little has been said along that line. I offer these suggestions, not as something entirely new, but as going further perhaps than has ever been proposed before in connection with making it obligatory that work that can be performed during the winter seasons shall be done then. May I say, in conclusion, that if the debate continues, I do hope that hon. members who speak will remember that this is not a political question, and that they will not speak with the hope of getting some political kudos out of it, but will rather confine themselves to what they believe will be practical remedies for a situation that we shall find existent in this country for three months every year.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

Who does the minister

think should bear the expense of maintaining the deportees while they are awaiting deportation? Secondly, when did the government insert the words, "Unable to bear the cost"? As it was before, it said that when an emergent condition exists the Dominion government would step in. The wording now makes it very different.

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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 confess

that I do not see very much difference. There may be an emergent condition and the provinces may be able to take care of it, but when a province admits that it is unable to take care of it, it is apparent that it is a very emergent situation.

With respect to deportees, the moment that we are notified and take action for the deportation of an individual, we pay the expenses, and in some cases we have paid them where it would appear that there may have been some laxity on our part in dealing with the matter.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

In these deportation

cases, we do not get one cent until the men leave the station. We have to maintain them up till then.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The question I desire to ask the minister is this: What legislative

body would have the authority to compel construction to be carried on during the winter?

Unemployment-Mr. Ernst

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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):

It would

only be provincial in character, and anything effective in that connection would have to be enacted by the province.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Could the province possibly enact legislation that would affect control of the railroads?

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April 7, 1930