June 20, 1936

?

An hon. MEMBER:

It is not paid if it is not applied for.

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

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

The regulation applies to all persons seventy years of age.

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

Richard Langton Baker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAKER:

If they are cut off relief they would be eligible for the old age pension.

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Unemployment-Relief Expenditures

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

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

The point I am objecting to is that-*

-anyone upon attaining the age of 70 will be automatically struck off relief regardless of whether they have applied for an old age pension or not.

There are lots of cases where, for obvious reasons, under the regulations, such as residential restrictions, those people cannot immediately obtain the old age pension. In my humble opinion such regulations provoke disorder. They create the impression that no responsibility is assumed for the welfare of those who are helpless, under these circumstances, to fend for themselves. These regulations are restrictive and coercive. I would urge upon the Minister of Labour at this time that he exercise as far as possible the supervisory powers conferred upon him with regard to the expenditure of federal moneys through provincial governments, insist that reasonable standards of living be maintained, that the utmost freedom be allowed to enable people to live decently, and assure them that there is some hope that as quickly as possible the federal government will institute projects which will enable them to obtain a secure and decent livelihood. I feel that at this time these considerations are important in order that we may avoid many of the unpleasant and regrettable occurrences which we have experienced in the past.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, I must make a few observations in reply to the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture, and I shall endeavour to do so without being offensive to certain gentlemen who have been mentioned.

As far as the supervision of expenditures is concerned, under the drought relief act it is quite clear that provision was made to deal with it; that Major Barnett did deal with it and 'that there was an auditor who dealt with it under the directions of the treasury department, also endeavouring to check up expenditures made by other branches of the public service. That, I think, goes without saying from a perusal of the records.

As to the other point, with regard to the extent to which bonus payments were made in connection with farm placements, if the hon. member had read the whole of the letter written by Mr. Dickson to the deputy minister of finance, which I assume the hon. gentleman will lay on the table since it is a public document, it would have been clear that there were also difficulties in the auditor general's office, and that because of certain attitudes taken by the Saskatchewan government Mr. Gordon, then Minister of Labour, directed that payments should be made through the Regina

representatives of the dominion government, one of them being the auditor whom I have mentioned. Receiving that list from the Regina government, of 5,134, the representatives of the dominion government were able to trace only 3,828 persons. That is what I said was the difficulty, and I did not say it was in any sense a matter of criminal intent. It was a fact, however, that payments were thus being made to something like 1,300 more people than the auditors could ascertain. That is why I suggested to the minister that it was desirable that some steps should be taken to see that the public purse was safeguarded.

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

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

If I may say just a word here, which will probably save quite a bit of discussion, all the men were cut off on the 31st day of -January, and the Department of Labour at Ottawa naturally did not come into the field until two or three weeks later. In the interval some of these men who had been cut off had gone away from their jobs before the work was taken over by the dominion government.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I simply say there were 5,134 on the list and the representatives of the dominion government found less than

4,000 when they made the payments for the months of February and March. That is what I said originally, and it seems to be borne out by what the hon. gentleman has said.

The other question is not so easily disposed of; the reply received from the Attorney General of Saskatchewan would seem to indicate that unfortunately there must be more than three of these gentlemen. The first gentleman to whom I referred and whose name I gave the minister, because I do not intend to use his name in the course of this discussion, was known as commissioner of urban relief. That was his title.

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

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

According to this telegram, which is the only information I have, that is not so.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am saying that is his title; that is what he calls himself, and that is not hearsay at all. I have that information from a source that had to deal with him. That is that. One of the other two, unfortunately, was a registrar of land titles, and he was convicted of theft and sentenced to the penitentiary.

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

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

He is not connected with this service at all.

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He was, when I spoke

of it; he was in the relief service.

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

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

No, not at any time.

Unem.ploymerit-Relief Expenditures

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

At least he put it in that way; perhaps he is doing something else now. The other had embezzled funds belonging to private persons.

The only reason I mentioned these three was because people who have had their moneys embezzled now find themselves in an impoverished state, and they raise the question as to why these men should be retained in positions connected with, the administration of relief to those who, by their actions, they have compelled to be on relief. That is a very serious situation. I have-and I suppose as long as I live I shall continue to do so-tried to assist men of the legal profession who have found themselves in that unfortunate position. I have paid large sums of money for that purpose, and I have no regrets for having done so. But I suggest that when a government desires to assist such men- and I have no objection to a government doing so-it should not be done in that branch of the service having to do with the administration of relief. That brings these men into contact with those who have suffered by reason of their actions and who are now denuded, of their moneys and their properties. These people see these men enjoying such positions; they write down and ask: "Is it possible that, going on relief, I must suffer and be placed in this position because my money has been embezzled, and the person who embezzled, my money is now employed in the administration of this very relief?"

That is the position, and I have been very careful not to mention names. I do not intend to dio so, though the provocation is great. I hold that men have every right in the world to another chance, but they should not be given that chance in such a way that their person is obtruded upon the attention of those who have suffered by reason of their action. That, I think, is a pretty elementary rule and one which should not be departed from. For the reason that I do not desire to do any harm to these men I have not mentioned their names, but with the' influence the minister has, I trust he will suggest that they be kept ip positions in which they will not have anything to do with the administration of relief.

There was an observation made with respect to persons occupying high places. That gentleman had not been disbarred. There is a power of punishment possessed by the courts of the country with regard to members of the legal profession who may be thought to have committed offences against the ethical rules of the profession. That is an entirely

different matter from having embezzled moneys. In the case in question the gentleman was suspended for six months for the offence which the judges thought contravened the rules of the profession. That is the story as far as that is concerned. I know of men who have held very eminent positions, on the bench of the country finally, who in earlier days had been guilty of offences which brought upon them the punitive power of the courts. That is an entirely different matter from the embezzlement of moneys that impoverishes and brings suffering upon people. It was with great hesitancy, notwithstanding what the Minister of Agriculture may think, that, having been appealed to, I brought the matter to the attention of this committee without mentioning names, because I believe it is a bad thing for society-using the word in the broad sense-to have men obtrude their activities upon the attention of those whom they have defrauded. That is the real truth of the matter; they have brought themselves to the attention of those whom through their criminal acts they have brought to a position of poverty. In any help I have endeavoured to give to men thus situated I have tried at least to keep them out of the sight of those who have suffered by reason of their conduct.

That is all I have to say about the matter. I shall give the minister the other two names, as I gave him the first name, without mentioning them in public, because I have no desire to do any harm or injury to these men. I wrote to the persons who were complaining to me and said that I had always taken the opposite view, that men must be given a chance. But do not obtrude them upon the attention of those who have suffered by reason of their conduct. That is the story. The other part of it was that apparently they were fairly active politically, which makes the matter a little worse, and that is one of the difficulties. The reason I mentioned the fact of the commissioner of census for one of the counties being a disbarred practitioner in Manitoba, was that it was stated in the newspaper that he had been disbarred. Notwithstanding that fact, however, that man was appointed a commissioner, and the very persons who suffered by his defalcations are now in such an impoverished condition that they wonder whether they cannot do something to garnishee the moneys which he is to receive in order that they may be kept from relief and obtain the money of which they were defrauded. That is the

4024 COMMONS

Unemployment-Reliej Expenditures

reason I bring these matters to the attention of the committee, without mentioning names, in the hope that sufficient has been said to bring a remedy for the conditions to which I have referred.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Just one matter to which I think I should refer, not in any controversial way. Frequent reference has been made by the leader of the opposition to the removal of what he describes as certain checks which were formerly exercised by the Department of Finance. The position in that regard was, as I think my right hon. friend now knows, that in connection with Saskatchewan, because of the special arrangements made in respect to the drought area, there was a degree of supervision the complete effect of which I need not repeat-

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

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

But there was a representative of the treasury there who supervised other matters in respect to drought.

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

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

But I see no reason for undertaking any different method of supervision. in Saskatchewan from the method now obtaining in connection with all the other provinces of Canada. The audit of the auditor general is available in that case just as in all others.

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

Harry James Barber

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARBER:

Statements have been made to-day in regard to there being a considerable percentage of men in the camps who are unable to work. I have visited these camps for some time; I have fourteen in my district, and have kept in close touch with them. I cannot agree with the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) as to the conditions, because I think the conditions are as nearly ideal as they can be in any camps, and I have visited lumber camps and other camps. The camps were clean, the food wholesome, and the men in charge were ideal. I do not think a better class of men than the foremen and superintendents could have been found in Canada; they were sympathetic, always willing to help the men, and taking a paternal interest in them.

Is it the intention of the government to dispose of these camps, or do they intend to keep some of them open so that some of these men who are not capable of working may be taken care of?

I should like to ask another question, which I believe has already been answered but as to which I should like to put in a plea. As to those foremen and superintendents who have been so faithful in that work during the last few years, many of whom are not prepared now to step out into the cities and get a job, some of whom are engineers, very

capable, I should like to know if something could be done to employ them. I understand the minister said that he has had something under consideration or at least might make provision for some, but I should like an answer to the other question in regard to the future of these camps; is the government going to dispose of the buildings or to put someone in charge by way of a caretaker?

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:

My hon. friend, of course, will realize that the disposal of the physical equipment is a matter to be determined by the Department of National Defence. It is not the intention of the government to continue to maintain these relief camps as such after July 1. I quite appreciate the point raised by the hon. member with regard to those in the camps who perhaps are no longer employable because of age or of temporary illness. We are looking into that side of the question and taking the most humane measures possible to meet it. As my hon. friend will understand, the camps were designed for physically fit men and there was no assumption of obligation to care for men who are not physically fit, that is apart from giving them hospital care. If they are unemployable we must consider that question with the provinces in which the camps are situated. But I again assure my hon. friend that we are not indifferent to the various important considerations which he has raised.

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

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

We hear much about single unemployed men, and a good deal has been done to take care of them, whether it has beem well done or no't, by way of

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:

I am not sure that I can do more than recognize as fully at this time as I have before the importance of the question raised by the hon. member. As she is

Supply-Harbours and Rivers

aware, we have appointed a woman on the national employment commission, and also propose to set up a special committee of the advisory committee to deal with the employment of women. It is a phase of the problem which so far has received inadequate attention. I can only hope that as time goes on we may be able to make some amends for this lack of attention.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES
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June 20, 1936