June 2, 1942

CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

I say that looking over the

figures given in the Sirois report for many years past, when a farmer on 100 acres of land gets only $400 to $600 actual annual income from his farm he is not getting sufficient to keep him and his family. It is not a fair balance between agriculture and other sections of the community.

I have no wish to carry on the debate, but I think the minister should not have taken quite so much credit for the higher prices which exist, because they would have existed in any event. I am certain that if there had been no price ceiling on farm products, there would be closer parity to-day between prices of farm products and prices of other commodities that the farmer has to buy.

There is no doubt that the labour situation on the farms to-day is serious. Recently a survey was made in my own county by the federation of agriculture assisted by officials of the provincial government. I have just received a second report which shows that out of 1,207 farms in the county, averaging 130 acres each, there was only an average of 1-2 male adults on each. That is a mixed farming community, and I say without fear of

War Appropriation-Agriculture

contradiction that with practically one man to a farm it cannot be operated successfully to get the largest production that we should be getting in war time.

Moreover, the average age of those males was fifty-three years, showing, as the minister mentioned, that there is a large number of farms where the sole operator is between sixty and seventy years of age. In times of peace it may be that we have kept up production through having implements and mechanized farming and have been able to increase production along certain lines; yet that cannot continue indefinitely. The harvest is coming, and it is going to be very hard indeed under conditions as they are to-day. The minister and the government will be well advised to give careful consideration to means to remedy the labour situation at least during the period of harvest. After all, we are all anxious to see that production is carried on. We do not want to have it fall down, particularly in war time. I am afraid, however, there will be a good deal of waste on the farms in Canada this summer, and particularly in harvest time, unless the labour situation is remedied in some way or another.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

Would the hon. member permit a very friendly question? I sympathize with a good deal of what he has said. What would he suggest as a remedy for the shortage of labour on the farm?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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CON

Mark Cecil Senn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SENN:

I am not prepared to say just what that remedy should be. Perhaps the time has to some extent gone by when the remedy should have been applied. I do not agree with the minister's statement, made a little while ago, that if there had been selective service at an earlier stage, men could not have been induced to stay on the farms to carry on operations there. I know a great many of them would be more useful on the farms than they would be in any other place they could be put.

Farming has become an industry where skilled labour is needed, just as much as it is in the factory or anywhere else. One skilled labourer on the farm can do more work by far, and do it more efficiently than two or three unskilled men can do. I do not wish to go back to discussions which have taken place earlier, but it seems to me that while perhaps the voluntary system of enlistment has not fallen down in getting men to enter the active service, it has fallen down very badly in taking men out of more industries than agriculture- although I may be speaking of agriculture particularly at the moment. It has taken men out of those industries who would be more useful in industries than they are to-day in the active service.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Thomas Bruce McNevin

Liberal

Mr. McNEVIN:

With respect to the matter of boards, which includes the dairy products board-

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The hon. member suggests that we are now dealing with boards. Is it understood that we are now to proceed to the five boards, one by one? I agreed this afternoon that we would deal first with the item of $5,477,760 contained in the upper items, and that when we had completed those we would proceed to the others.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

This afternoon I asked one or two questions in connection with flax. At that time the chairman thought my questions were not in order. I should like to put them now. The minister stated that there were twenty-five or thirty flax mills in the combined provinces of Ontario and Quebec; is that correct?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB
LIB
LIB
LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

Would he get that information for me, and communicate it to me by letter?

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LIB
LIB
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Yes; there has been since the beginning of the war. I cannot say exactly what it is, but it is around $5 and up, depending upon the grade.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I understand that some arrangement has been made to finance those who own flax mills so that they may purchase modern machinery and equipment; is my information correct?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

The facts are that we did assist two or three persons or companies -one in Quebec, I believe, and two in Ontario-before the war, to get certain equipment for their plants. But since the war started we have taken a machine, of which I believe there was only one in the country, dismantled it and made drawings of the parts. The Frost and W]oodl company are now making those machines for us, at a cost of about $10,000 each. Ten of them have been made up and are in use, and five others are to be put into use. We have about fifteen at the present time. The government has the machines made, and they are sold to the companies desiring to use them.

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LIB
LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

No; scutching machines.

War Appropriation-Agriculture

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

Is the department registering a claim against those scutching machines?

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Where possible, the machine is being sold outright, and in other places it is sold :on terms.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

Are there any flax companies or individuals operating flax mills, and owning this modem equipment, which have been financed by the minister's department?

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
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June 2, 1942