June 20, 1936

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

This gentleman is said

to have been disbarred. That evening, after the discussion, the leader of the opposition was kind enough to send to me the name of the individual. I did not know the man. I had never heard of him, as a matter of fact. Not having heard of him I was quite satisfied he was not in charge of the administration of anything. So I wired Regina in order to get the facts. On the night of June 12, 1936, I sent this wire to the Hon. T. C. Davis, Attorney General, Regina, Saskatchewan:

Mr. Bennett stated in house to-day that a member of the legal profession who had been debarred because of embezzling funds had held or now holds an important position in the administration of relief funds in Saskatchewan.

He also stated there were two other employed who were in the same unfortunate position. Kindly wire me any information possible. If such persons were employed, give details re time of debarring and present standing.

I received a reply to that wire from Mr. Davis. The wire is dated Regina, June 13, the following morning, and reads as follows:

Statements made by Mr. Bennett are not true and the facts are as follows. Former solicitor in employ of relief department in minor position of correspondence clerk at salary which barely provides existence. This man was at one time a practising lawyer but was accused of failure to account for some funds and was struck off the rolls of law society. Since then he has made complete settlement of claim against him and I am satisfied that if he applied for reinstatement he could secure it, but he has never had the funds wherewith to do this. No profession in this province more hard hit through depression than that of law. Two other former practising solicitors employed in connection with northern settlers' reestablishment in minor clerical positions. One is still solicitor in good standing.

I have had information since that this gentleman who was still a solicitor in good standing is not practising because his practice practically disappeared because of the hard times. The wire continues:

The other was suspended for three months for irregularities and subsequently voluntarily filed statement of non-practice with law society and therefore is not on the active rolls.

I am informed, on applying for further information, that this gentleman while not on the active rolls at present, was reinstated, had not sufficient practice to be able to get along in the community where he was, and then ceased to be a practising lawyer.

These three gentlemen have been given employment in very inferior positions, not in the administration of relief, but merely clerks in the office in charge of distribution. They are not handling any funds whatsoever. After a man in Canada has met with a difficulty which has been brought upon him by the situation through which our country is passing, after he has got into some difficulties that probably he would have been wiser had he not got into, and after he has had his punishment, whatever that punishment may be, is anyone going to say that that man is never again going to obtain employment in this country? Is any man going to say that governments must see to it that he is passed up every time he makes application for a job? Is anyone going to say, if that man can write letters properly and be a correspondence clerk, he must, instead of taking that kind of work, go into a relief camp or some other place to find an existence?

I do not think even the leader of the opposition would take that position. I can

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Unemployment-Relief Expenditures

quite agree with him that had any of these gentlemen been in positions such as the .eader of the opposition must have thought they were in from the correspondence he has obtained, he would probably have been justified in raising the question, but I think all of us, before raising questions about individuals who find themselves in difficulties in these days, should be very careful to get all the facts with regard to them; and if I had not all the facts with regard to these men, I would very much prefer to err on the side of not knowing all that is to be known about them than to err on the side of coming into this house as a representative of the people, even as a humble member attending his first session, and raising the matter on the floor of the House of Commons. I think we have much bigger matters to talk about, much bigger matters to discuss, much bigger problems to settle. I regret that the right hon. gentleman found it necessary to bring up this matter on three occasions in order to elicit some kind of reply to the question. I hope that the incident is closed.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I wish to bring to the attention of members of the committee another aspect of this problem. I think nothing could be more dangerous than to allow the impression to go abroad that members of this house are not entirely sympathetic with the plight of those whose welfare is being discussed. It would be equally dangerous to have the impression go abroad that we are more interested in what might be termed the political aspects of the problem rather than in the rehabilitation of Canadian homes and the lives of matiy of our Canadian people.

I am not disposed at this stage to indulge in any criticism of the government's policy. We must, I assume, adjust ourselves as best we may to the plans outlined. I appreciate the magnitude of the problem and the difficulties facing the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) and in the name of those who are suffering misery and distress at this time I hope that we may achieve in the ensuing months some appreciable degree of progress towards the solution of this problem.

I have on previous occasions stated my views with regard to the government's policy, and I cannot admit to any optimism as to the outlook. I cannot see any hope of the reabsorption into productive employment of any substantial number of those now on relief. But at this moment I would rather plead with the Minister of Labour to give his most earnest consideration to some aspects of the problem that in my humble opinion seem to be most important. When the Minister of

Labour was dealing with the unemployment situation on a former occasion, in committee on the bill, he gave statistics of those now unemployed and on relief but he did not have an opportunity to give the statistics on employment. I notice in our journals in Canada several attempts to analyze the situation and to give the impression that the number of those on relief is not decreasing as might be expected from the statistics given as to the increase in the number of employed, and propaganda is abroad that the majority of those out of work are out of work because they won't work and that relief should be severely reduced accordingly. I think the most effective answer to that propaganda was given by the Minister of Labour himself this afternoon when he stated that 8,700 men in the relief camps had accepted work on the deferred maintenance work of the transportation systems. Nevertheless this opinion is abroad, and I would ask the Minister of Labour, in administering the measures under his supervision, and also the Minister of Transport, to attempt to convince the single men and the married men on relief that it is the earnest desire of the government to give all these people a square deal.

There is on the part of many officials dealing with this problem what is sometimes called a hard-boiled attitude. Without question there is the occasional chiseller, the result being a tendency on the part of some to judge all the unemployed on relief as being a class of human beings quite different and apart from the rest of our people. It must be held in mind very clearly at all times that even if a man is down and out, even if he is unemployed and on relief, he is still a human being; those whom we classify in general terms as the army of the unemployed, the jobless and so on, we must never forget are human beings, and unemployment is doing terrible things to human beings. These people are part of our nation. We cannot divide our nation into a number of water-tight compartments. These men live in a separate world, for those on relief do live in a separate world. But they have the same aspirations, the same ambitions and the same desires as other people and these things are being denied them. . The denial of these natural ambitions and natural aspirations over a prolonged period is bound to have a terrible influence upon human beings, and the results of a prolonged period of unemployment with inadequate relief measures must be taken into very sympathetic consideration. There must be some effort made to gain an understanding of the problem, from this point of view.

Unemployment-Relief Expenditures

I urge the consideration by the Minister of Labour of the problem of our single, homeless young men, to whom reference was made this afternoon. It was said that some of these men would not accept work when it was offered to them. The minister has said that no medical examination was provided to determine the physical fitness of these men for this arduous, manual labour, or their aptitude for this kind of work.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Perhaps I should have

said that I had no knowledge of such an examination having been made.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I am sorry if I have misquoted the minister. My information is that no medical examination was conducted. May I remind the minister that in every large relief camp which I have visited there was a sick bay or hut. At all times there were a certain number of men requiring medical attention in spite of the physical examination they had received upon admission to camp. I have personal knowledge of men who were quite incapable of undertaking maintenance work such as is being arranged for them with the transportation systems. There are also a number of elderly men in these camps. I met men of the ages of sixty and sixty-five years, and it is quite obvious that they would be unable to do this arduous manual work. I ask the minister to investigate the cases of men alleged to have refused work, and to ascertain whether or not their reasons for refusal were valid. I am very sure that all but a small percentage who did refuse to work did so for justifiable reasons. From my personal knowledge I know there are a considerable number of these men who are wholly unfit for this work.

I bring to the attention of the minister the question of clothing, a problem now facing these men on maintenance work. It is quite true that they were permitted to retain the clothing they had in the relief camps, but very little of that clothing is of the protective nature necessary for the work in which they are now engaged. Many of these men are working in swamp lands and some of them are working in rough country where, for instance, they require gloves. If we consider the work they are engaged in, a pair of gloves would last only a week or ten days.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Boxing gloves?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I am talking about work gloves to be used in clearing work. I am endeavouring to gain a sympathetic consideration of this matter. Any one who has done work of this kind will realize the truth of what I am saying.

Another point to be considered is the conditions under which these men are living. We all know that men engaged in construction work must endure a certain amount of hardship, but these men are of the opinion that they are being treated as coolie labourers. Very often they are housed in box cars which are not clean, and sometimes through lack of a sufficient supply of water they are unable to keep themselves clean and observe the ordinary decencies of life. I ask the minister to exercise the most careful supervision and try to Obtain the best possible living conditions for these men under the circumstances. What is more important, the men should be convinced that the federal government is endeavouring to give them a square deal. I speak feelingly of this subject.

There has been a disposition in the past to treat these men as cattle. Some time ago a young man from a relief camp was killed on the railway in the Rocky mountains, and I am told that when they were gathering up the boy's remains, the official in charge complained of having to go to Vancouver to attend the inquest and referred to this boy and his companions in profane terms as being cattle. That attitude has been communicated to the men and I leave it to hon. members to realize that there can be only one result when men believe they are being treated as cattle.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Would my hon. friend give me the particulars of that incident, when it occurred and where? Perhaps not now, but if he would send me a letter.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I was not making any charges, I was using this incident to illustrate a general attitude.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I would not for the world have my hon. friend leave the impression that that is typical of railway officials, and least of all of any official of the government.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I assure the minister that it was not an official of the government; it was an official of the railway. I am merely illustrating the attitude.

Reference was made this afternoon to the unfortunate occurrences Which took place in Vancouver and Regina. I am not attempting at this time to fix the blame, but I want to say that I have an intimate knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the most unfortunate occurrences in the city of Regina last Dominion day. I also had knowledge of the facts long before the men invaded the city of Vancouver. Time and again efforts were made to make representations to the authorities that certain action

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Unemployment-Relief Expenditures

was necessary to prevent any disorderly occurrence. All that was necessary was a frank man to man negotiation in this matter. The men finally came into Vancouver and I had daily contact with them. I knew the men who were designated this afternoon as communist agitators, and I also knew a large number of other men who came to me day after day and told me that they had no sympathy with the communist leadership which was directing the movement. They told me that all they wanted was a chance to present their views. I think I am fair when I say that during the earlier stages of the negotiations, which were conducted on behalf of the men by many representative business men in Vancouver, the attitude of those in authority and in close contact with the problem was arbitrary and high-handed. The result was that some of these men, decent men and some well educated, told me that they would rather take the bull whips in the gutters of the streets of Vancouver than return to the conditions they had had to endure in the relief camps.

Time after time we pleaded with them not to engage in any disorderly action, and they told us that they had no intention or desire of challenging constituted law and authority. On the other hand, they contended that they had been denied the processes of reasonable negotiation. Time went on, and I was personally present in the streets of Vancouver when these men were beaten up in a most brutal fashion by the city and provincial police. I ask any hon. member: If you had been present on that occasion, would you regard those occurrences any differently? The attack made upon these men on that occasion was unnecessary, unjustifiable and unprovoked. They were ousted from their quarters where they had been holding a peaceful and orderly meeting. When they scattered through the streets, they were followed and beaten up with bull whips. However, this is all past and ancient history. I point to it in the hope that we may profit by the mistakes which have been made.

If I know anything about the situation, as I think I do; if I know anything about the thought processes of these men whose interests are at stake, as I think I do, I fear for the situation that will arise next winter when these men are released from this maintenance work. It is for this reason that I urge upon the minister at this time the necessity of taking, through the very capable men 'he has around him in his department, such action as will make clear to these men that he is endeavouring to give them a square deal.

fMr. MacNeil.]

May I point out that there is a great deal of confusion with regard to the wages paid to these men, and the general tendency or influence of that schedule of wages set forth in the agreement is to alarm other recipients of relief who are working for their relief that the rate of wages secured by them while on relief projects will be lowered. The Vancouver Daily Province of June 15, 1936, in an article from Victoria, has this to say:

When the federal government agreed to finance half the cost of the work and loan the province the remaining half, it was understood at the labour department that men would be paid at the rate of twenty-five cents an hour with a ten hour day. This is the rate which the department is informed will prevail on railway maintenance work under the federal government and it was understood the federal authorities would insist on the same scale in provincial work. This rate was considered far too low here. It has been arranged now that the current wage rate shall be paid and this, while varying in all districts, is much higher than $2.50 a day.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

There is no foundation

whatsoever for that statement in so far as it pertains to the agreement between the dominion and the provinces.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I appreciate that, in view

of the minister's statements in the committee, but I bring to his attention that a great deal of confusion and alarm resulted from this misunderstanding. The article goes on to say:

Wages usually average about 40 cents an hour for an eight hour day.

I fear that the measures employed by the government to achieve economy have been misunderstood by municipal and provincial authorities, and a series of repressive measures that are quite unnecessary is being brought to bear upon the unemployed. The result can be only bitterness and discontent, and I think something should be done to allay this uneasiness, otherwise the ministerial chair in the months to come will be a very warm and uncomfortable seat. I think we should address ourselves to this problem with the idea of stabilizing this situation, and one way of stabilizing it is to create an altogether different atmosphere with regard to this problem, having in mind at all times the depression, misery and degradation endured by those who must accept relief. May I ask the minister to do what may be done to bring to the attention of the public the factors that are maintaining the number at present on relief? As each day goes by there are people who are reaching the end of their resources. Prior to this period they have been able to maintain themselves, but now they must,

Vnemployment-Relief Expenditures

very reluctantly, apply for relief. Only this week I have had no less than a dozen men, all of them ex-service men, call at my office in this house. They say: We have managed so far to get along without accepting relief; God knows we do not want to take relief; we have done this, that and the other thing to secure employment; do you know of any employment we can get in any way? The only alternative before them is that of applying for relief. That illustrates in a degree, I think, how people who have hoarded their resources through these years, with the help of casual employment, are now coming on the relief rolls. In addition, there are the young people-a new draft each month, of course-and besides them, an increasing number of people suffering from impaired physical health. I am not placing the blame entirely on the federal government; rather I am asking the government to do what may be done to avoid the sort of thing that is illustrated in a notice I have before me. For obvious reasons I shall not mention the town, but I notice, in a newspaper published in that town-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

What newspaper?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Unless the hon. member insists, I would rather not give it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

We should have it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Well, it is in the Pembroke Advertiser, "Notice I Change of Relief Regulations," addressed to the "relief recipients and ratepayers of the town of Pembroke." Among these "changes" I find the following clauses:

3. All clothing allowances of 20 cents per head shall be cancelled after March 31, 1936.

6. No fuel allowance will be granted during the months of May, June, July, August and September.

7. The rate of 20 cents per hour shall be used in computing the amount of time to be worked for relief granted for the month of March, 1936, and thereafter.

8. Any relief worker not doing an honest day's work while on the job may be discharged by the foreman or town engineer in which case he will be cut off relief.

10. All families who have wage earners in the home earning in excess of the relief schedule for such a sized family are struck off relief.

11. All relief recipients 70 years of age are to be granted no further relief after March 15. 1936. Also, anyone upon attaining age 70 will be automatically struck off relief regardless of whether they have applied for an old age pension or not.

12. All deserted families are to be cut off relief March 1, 1936, and advised to secure support from their fathers or husbands. No "grass widow" will receive relief while her husband remains at liberty.

13. Single persons who marry and apply for relief will not be granted same until they have been married at least one year and a half.

14. Single persons will not be granted relief unless they are physically or mentally incapacitated; in such cases arrangements will be made to transfer them to an institution.

15. The following food allowances are

effective after February, 1936:

Monthly

food

Number in family: allowance

Man and wife (2) $ 8 67

Man and wife and 1 child (3).... 10 83

Man and wife and 2 children (4) .. 13 00Man and wife and 3 children (5) .. 15 17Man and wife and 4 children (6) .. 16 25Man and wife and 5 children (7) .. 17 33Man and wife and 6 children (8) .. 18 42The maximum monthly food allowance shall be $18.42. , .16. Any family applying for relief m Pembroke who have not established their residence here (12 months' continual residence previous to application) must arrange with the municipality responsible for them to have the cost of same relief charged back to the municipality they moved from.17. All relief recipients who are unable to work for their relief shall receive ten per cent less than those that work.

20. All relief recipients who are not satisfied with the relief distribution after publication of this notice and who create any disturbance whatsoever will be cut off relief entirely.

That is about the general trend of these regulations.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
LIB

Robert Emmett Finn

Liberal

Mr. FINN:

Will the hon. member say who signed them?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

They are signed by the Pembroke Relief Committee, A. E. Cockburn, Chairman; D. W. Blakely, Secretary; G. E. Doran, Administrator. I understand Mr. Cockburn is the mayor of that town. Taking all these regulations together one may get some picture of what must result in that particular municipality or town. It is apparent that such regulations can only lead to disorder, for the very obvious reasons that they result in dangerously lowering the living standards of those on relief; they make it practically impossible to live decently; they deny all responsibility for those who reach the age of seventy, and for the wife who has been deserted.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is the old age pension.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink
CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

I point out to the leader of the opposition that the regulation states that at the age of seventy relief recipients will be cut off relief whether the old age pension is paid or not.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
Permalink

June 20, 1936