June 15, 1943

SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

About 1,400 I believe. I am inclined to think the water is about the same

kind all through that country, and I do not believe that any citizen has died yet. Be that as it may, I will take the minister's answer. Will he answer one other question? He failed to say what kind of pipes are being used in piping that water a distance of six miles.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I shall be glad to obtain the information.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

He did not say anything about the house and barn, but they are demolished. He was not there, but my friends were. I spoke with men who saw it done. So that -that is all there is to the bam and the house.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I wish to discuss for a few minutes with the minister a matter which I think he considers of urgent importance as indicated in his statement to the house when making the presentation for his department. He said at that time that coal was one of our most pressing supply problems. Consumption has increased by more than forty-five per cent since the outbreak of war, and he goes on to set out a statement which clearly indicates that he recognizes the seriousness of that problem and its relationship to the general war production.

I am not going to be critical to-night, but I want to point out to the minister the problem as I know it and as it relates to fuel in Nova Scotia. I shall not attempt to discuss the situation in either British Columbia or Alberta, because I am not familiar with it. The major part of our coal comes from Nova Scotia, and in the light of that statement by the minister, showing that he recognizes the necessity for increasing production generally across the country, I hope that something will be done; otherwise there will be during the next year a serious domestic problem in the matter of fuel.

I am pleased that -this matter has been placed under the Department of Munitions and Supply. My experience with the minister has been that he likes to get things done, and his report to the committee indicates that he has done a very successful job in the organization of the industry generally in Canada. I know that since 1940 this matter of fuel and the fuel policy has been discussed in season and out of season in this house, by myself and by others, and it has been handled by many different departments. Labour had it, and it went to the Department of Finance. Various controls were set up, and much assistance given to industry, from the operators' point of view, by way of cash from the treasury. But the fuel situation in Canada indicates that assistance of that kind- does not

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increase production. That is the position to-day. There are fifteen orders in council that provide subsidies for the movement of coal across the country, and there have been several more with regard to controls that have been set up for emergency purposes since the outbreak of war. Personally I cannot see that very much has been done to date to increase production in the country or to take care of that problem. I think the problem so far as Nova Scotia is concerned is much more serious than the minister realizes, and also much more serious than is realized by those who head his war emergency production board. I believe the government is directly concerned in the matter in view of the assistance it has given and the financial obligations it has undertaken in connection with the industry, as indicated in this return, which is sessional paper 145E dated Monday, May 24, 1943.

According to this return the government has paid out some 84,850,000 in freight subventions and so on. In addition, assistance has been provided to meet part of the cost-of-living bonus paid to coal-mining employees, in the amount of approximately $7,000,000. Assistance has been provided to enable operators to pay certain wage scale adjustments authorized by the national war labour board, to the extent of approximately $500,000 per annum. Production and development subsidies are provided by the emergency coal production board to enable existing operations to be maintained and, where possible, to enlarge the production from existing mines, or to develop new operations. The estimated cost of this assistance for the fiscal year 194344 is about $6,500,000. So that the government has accepted financial responsibility to a considerable extent in connection with the coal-mining industry of Canada. Along those lines I think it has done a good job, but I am sceptical of the machinery that has been set up to bring about that increase in production; I think there are factors entering into it with which this board is not familiar. I am not so sure that they will be able to increase production in the mines of Nova Scotia by releasing men from the army and turning them back to coal mining, or by taking them from other industries and putting them back into the coal mines of Nova Scotia. The entire operation in that province is such that it is doubtful whether production can be increased to any appreciable extent without making new openings, and it takes a considerable time to develop new openings to the point where coal is produced. That will not help us out next winter; and if there is an immediate shortage and a serious situation, [Mr. Gillis.l

as was indicated in the minister's statement, then I think other steps will be necessary in order to obtain that production.

There are certain factors which militate against the whole situation so far as Nova Scotia is concerned. I have made it my business to get some figures in this connection, and I have gone into the matter with the reconstruction committee and other bodies for months past, in an endeavour to show them exactly what is the situation. I am not going to go all over the matter, but I wish to point out to the minister that the vice-president of Dominion Iron, Steel and Coal was here recently, and we discussed' this whole matter with him. He tried to make the point that the drop in production resulted from the men leaving the various collieries. I questioned him on the basis of the figures I have here, which were obtained from his own offices and which are fairly well up to date, going up to December, 1942. Take the Dominion Coal company, for example, which is the largest operating company in Nova Scotia. The number of men employed by that company in 1938 was 9,500, and at that time they were turning out 19,000 tons of coal a day. In 1942 the number of men employed had dropped to 8,000, and the production to 12,000 tons a day. That much production has been lost in the collieries of the Dominion Coal company; and all the men who have left the employ of that company have not enlisted. I took the vice-president of that company over the trail, colliery by colliery. I pointed out to him where No. 11 colliery, for example, had 950 men on the payroll in 1938, while to-day only half as many are employed. They did not leave their jobs there to go into the armed forces. There has been a constant fight to keep that colliery open for the last four or five years. It is folding up; it is practically worked out, and if the war stopped to-morrow we could not put these men back at work there.

That is one point. Then there is the reserve colliery of this company, which is now closed down. It employed some 450 men. There was a development at No. 25 colliery, which employed a few of those men; only recently that colliery was flooded, and work there is stopped. In 1938 there were 700 men producing coal in that colliery; it is out of production to-day and that production cannot be replaced. Then you could go along to No. 2 colliery, which a couple of years ago was producing 4,500 tons of coal per day. Now the production in that colliery is down to practically 1,000 tons per day, for the reason that the colliery is worked out. It is a pillar operation to-day; they are backing up on it,

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and you are not going to put any -more men in there when the war is over. You might be able to shove in a few to-morrow and push up your production a little, but not to anything like the extent that is necessary according to the statement made by the minister. All the collieries of the Dominion Coal company are in that position; they are old operations; they are long hauls, and they are on the wane. Coal mining in Nova Scotia, so faT as Dominion Coal is concerned, is folding up, and I do not want the illusion built up in the mind of the minister that by passing along these subsidies to the operating companies the problem will be solved, or that by taking men from the army and from other industries and putting them back in these mines the necessary production will be achieved.

I think the solution in that regard can be found only in new openings. I emphasized that point in 1940 and 1941; I pointed to the developing crisis in fuel and outlined the steps which I thought were necessary. Had those steps been taken at that time, we would have had producing mines now, but it will take some time to develop any new mines now. The same situation exists in the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal company, or the old Sydney collieries. It also exists right through that province, and what I am trying tOi prove to the minister now is that throwing subventions into the laps of the operating companies will not solve the problem of fuel production. Do not make any mistake about that.

There is another matter I should like to bring to the minister's attention, and I want to place responsibility for this problem where it belongs. I mentioned a moment ago that No. 25 colliery was opened in 1938 or 1939, which absorbed about 250 of the men who had been employed in the reserve colliery. That mine is flooded to-day; they brought another old mine into it. That was on account of faulty engineering on the part of the Dominion Iron, Steel and Coal company. I remember distinctly when they were talking of opening that No. 25 mine, just a few years ago. The men who lived in that district, who knew mining from a practical point of view, and the executive board of the mine workers fought with the coal company to develop their new slope, and to tap the old mine from the top and pump it out. In that way they would have obtained immediate production by routing quite a number of men into the old colliery, getting coal from that colliery while they were developing the new slope and tapping another section of it. They emphasized the fact that the mine should be tapped at the top and pumped out; otherwise there was a chance of running into it and flooding the new

development. That is exactly what happened. Two men lost their lives in that operation. And it is owing to the stupidity of the engineers of the Dominion Iron, Steel and1 Coal company; because the men knew better, and made a fight for it. You have lost all the production you had in that particular mine. I do not know how soon it will be over. It will have to be completely pumped' out.

You also have a fire in the largest producing colliery of the Dominion Iron, Steel and Coal company. I refer to No. 12 colliery at New Waterford. I wish to place the responsibility for that fire directly at the door of the Dominion Iron, Steel and Coal company. It was caused by a long wall belt. It was a rubber belt which ran through these workings for some 1,500 feet. The men had been emphasizing continually for the past year that that section should be cleaned out, and that the belt should be free. Reports were written on it. Had attention been paid to the reports of the safety committee which travels through the mines every three months, the results would have been different. Had they been listened to with respect to cleaning up that section, and freeing the belt, the fire would not have happened. Two more men lost their lives in that colliery. There is now a fire at that point, which is displacing some 1,100 men.

I am sometimes a little bit sceptical as to whether certain operators do not accept all the financial assistance the government will put in their way, and at the same time use everyone with whom they come in contact as sales agents, while they make their money-by subventions or in some other way.

There is a loss of production in two collieries which can be placed at the door of the Dominion Iron, Steel and Coal company. It is owing to faulty engineering, and to neglect through not keeping that section of the workings, with a belt running through, free and clear. Had it been kept clear, the fire would not have happened. That has been a matter of controversy for some time. We hope that before this matter is closed the provincial government and the mine workers will place the responsibility where it belongs-and we know who is responsible. There has been a loss of four lives, and a serious crippling of an industry which is now essential. It is to be hoped that something will be done about the matter.

We have that problem to contend with, and I want the Minister of Munitions and Supply to understand it, because it now comes directly under his department. As I said before, I think he tries to get things done, and I believe he will do so in this instance.

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That is the gloomy side of the picture; that is the actual situation. I would strongly urge the minister that he immediately take into consideration the matter of setting up some kind of organization similar to that in Great Britain. We know that when in 1917 Great Britain had a fuel crisis she had to take things over. She gave to men employed in the industry, and who knew the problem of production from the practical point of view, some responsibilities on the boards administering the order in council. That was done in order to have increased production. I shall not go into that matter in detail. She has had to do it again, during this war. That was done in July, 1942. At that time the British government set up a board composed fifty per cent of operators and fifty per cent of the men themselves. They are working together, and the matter of profit is subordinated to the interests of the state.

Then, Great Britain l\as stepped a little farther. She has declared that all mineral developments after July, 1942, in that country will be under government ownership and operation. Collieries are still operating and producing on a government-management plan. The important thing is to get the men in who understand the problem from the practical viewpoint, men who can give some practical advice as to how coal is to be produced. After three years of experimentation in the matter of assistance and subsidies, and things like that, surely we have arrived at the point where we have conclusive evidence that procedure of that kind does not solve the problem of production.

There are other factors which militate against the best results. I discussed this matter earlier with the Minister .of Munitions and Supply. Provided production on the island of Cape Breton were increased tomorrow-and that is where one finds the major coal production in Nova Scotia-provided it were increased by 100 per cent, it could not be taken off the island.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Why?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

For the simple reason that the minister has not the shipping facilities. Secondly, it cannot be moved by rail because at the strait of Canso there is a definite stop-lock in getting across that strait. Only so many cars can be taken across per day.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I am very much interested in this. But I would say to my hon. friend that if he will give me the ways and means of stepping up production, producing another three or four millions or more tons in Cape

Breton, I will take full responsibility for moving it from there, even if I have to put our entire merchant fleet on the job.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I am glad to hear the

minister say that.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

We will provide labour to that extent.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

And I believe the minister w'ould do it. But at the same time, in the interests of Canada to-day, and definitely in the interests of post-war production, the building of a bridge or causeway across the strait of Canso is something which should be undertaken. However, I shall not go into that matter now. That is something which is before the committee on reconstruction. A lot of cold water has been poured on the idea by the engineers of the Department of Public Works, and by the representatives of the Canadian National Railways. I have reports on it which evidently they have not seen.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Before we leave the other subject; as I have said, I am very much interested in the views of the hon. member, because I realize he knows a great deal about mining on the island of Cape Breton and I know nothing about it whatsoever. What would be his suggestion for getting another two or three million tons of coal out of that country in the next twelve months?

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I am not so sure the minister could get that within the next twelve months. As I said before, I do not see any solution in the operating collieries. They are old. You cannot step up production in those collieries to any great extent. The only chance of getting additional supplies of coal from the island of Cape Breton is to make new openings. As the minister knows, it takes some time to drift a slope or sink a shaft or tap a coal seam, before the product can be taken out. If a drive is put on, it might be done in seven or eight months. Openings might be made in certain places from which production could be obtained. Perhaps it could be obtained within six months.

For example, here is one proposal contained in a letter from a man in the town of Inverness. This man, Mr. J. H. Henderson, is thoroughly familiar with coal mining, and particularly mining in the county of Inverness. The mine there is producing very little. It is old, and is to-day operated by the government. For some time it was operated as a relief project. Mr. Henderson says this:

There is lots of coal in Inverness yet. and a little money and good management will yet

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put Inverness producing 500 tons a day without any difficulty. And as to the quality of the coal for domestic purposes, you know there is nothing better in Nova Scotia.

It is really a crime how this mine has been worked here. The sinking was down to 13 level when Mr. MeOoll came here, with a face of coal seven feet of the very best coal Inverness ever produced, and there was every evidence that the seam would flatten just as the late Norman McKenzie said it would. Of course the haul was long, but that could easily be overcome.

If I bad the money and a free hand I would have Inverness producing 500 tons of coal a day in six months, and a thousand tons in two years.

Wish you could prevail upon the emergency coal producing board to investigate and I am sure they would be encouraged.

I know this man, and he is familiar with coal production. He knows that area and that particular mine. There is a chance that with the expenditure of a little money, and with someone to take responsibility, the minister might get out as much as 400 or 500 tons a day, in six months.

Here is another one. On the north side of Sydney harbour is a mine known as the Jubilee mine. In the late twenties this mine was fully equipped and a million dollar bankhead was built. The people from that particular area are urging the reopening of this colliery. The equipment is there and I think this mine could be made to produce in a very short time. The minister should examine into this and perhaps he will find that he can get production even more quickly than I anticipate. The bankhead was never used; perhaps it was another investment made to keep wages from the miners.

I have suggested on one or two occasions that there is coal at Thorburn in Pictou county. This is one of the best seams of coal to be found, and people who reside in that area tell me that production could be had very shortly. The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. McCulloch) probably knows of this operation and he could give the committee more information. But they claim that the slope there taps a good seam of coal, and perhaps production could be commenced in three or four months. In the Port Morien area on Cape Breton island is a good seam of coal which is close to the surface. If there is an emergency, you could go in there and make an opening and get production quite quickly. There is a small opening in the field a few miles out of Port Morien which produces 100 or 150 tons a day. This is capable of enlargement and it could possibly turn out 400 tons a day. At the present time they are handicapped by a lack of transportation facilities. The coal is taken out in trucks some seven or eight miles, and the road is in very bad condition. They have no power available,

which retards their surface operations to some extent. Representations have been made to certain authorities, particularly in the provincial government, to have this road fixed up and to provide additional power so that the operations can be increased. It is a small operation now, but production could be stepped up and you could get some relief immediately.

These suggestions should be investigated immediately and something should be done. Again I want to emphasize to the minister that if he hopes to get the full cooperation of the men in any of these undertakings, he must recognize the fact, as was mentioned to-night by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), that he is dealing with human beings. The coal miner's life is a miserable one, and in the past he has had little encouragement to buckle down and cooperate with anyone. The reverse has been the case; he has been the goat every time. It would be well to examine into what has been done in Great Britain. Perhaps a board of the type set up there, with regional representatives right on the spot, could be set up here. The men could be given some responsibility in connection with production. They must be shown that you are prepared to cooperate with them. They will go all the way with you if that is done. It is no good just paying a subsidy to the operator and expecting the fellow who produces the coal to slave and sweat without getting anything in return except the knowledge that he is helping out in an emergency, an emergency which was largely created by the people who have made money in the past.

There should be an incentive to the men in the collieries to produce more coal. If this is to be done, there should be a check-up on the income tax arrangements. Just prior to the Easter recess I discussed this matter with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Usley) and pointed out that on the basis of a forty-eight hour week, when a man is asked to work an extra one or two shifts it puts him in a higher income bracket. Then the whole thing is levelled back on his total weekly earnings, and the result is that while he has worked overtime to produce an extra sixteen or twenty tons of coal, he does not get anything; the whole thing is taken up in the income tax.

My suggestion was that either this overtime should be tax free or the tax on the overtime earnings should be worked out separately. These men are not objecting to being taxed on their forty-eight hour week, but a man feels that if he stays out to-night and punishes himself to the extent of working an extra

War Appropriation-Supplies

shift or two-they do not want to do it, but they do it because there is an emergency-he should be exempt from paying the tax on those earnings, or at least they should not go back over his total weekly earnings. The thing is absolutely unfair. This applies not only to mining but to practically every industry. Men and women everywhere are adopting this attitude.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I would not call it absenteeism ; it is simply a lack of incentive. In many cases these men lose money when they work overtime.

Another thing to be considered is the physical factor. The hours underground are too long. It is almost a physical impossibility to work a six-day week underground, and then follow with a five-night week. When you do that for three or four months you find you are getting pretty draggy and are feeling the need of a few hours rest. It should be recognized that people working under those conditions are entitled to a two weeks' vacation each year. That would give them something to look forward to. They have nothing to look forward to now. Every official, the man who merely checks up and travels the mine, who is not twisting his spine at the end of a shovel, gets a two weeks' vacation every year, but there is no vacation for the man who slaves and sweats. If the man in industry, particularly the man in coal mining, knew that he could look forward to a vacation for himself and his family, that there was something for which he could save and enjoy, there would be less absenteeism. When there is nothing to look forward to, you have more men taking time off during the week-ends.

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NAT
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Certainly they are. If you

are going to try to get production, you must give the men responsibilities and recognize the fact that they are human beings. You must Check the hours of work and go into the question of vacations with pay. You must also probe the possibilities of industrial medicine. I called this matter to the attention of the ^Minister of Pensions and National Health and asked him to look into it. The Canadian Car and Foundry company, Montreal, have done wonderful work in this field. They have a doctor who specializes, and they have certain arrangements with their employees. I am told that absenteeism has been cut fifty per cent by this system of industrial medicine. It

has proved beneficial. This is another matter the minister should look into. I urge him to check the social conditions under which miners are working if he wants greater production.

I rose to make these few remarks, because in the past this business of getting production in the coal mines has been very much a matter of wishful thinking. You have been placing your faith completely in people who in my opinion have done a very bad job of organizing the fuel industry in Canada. There is too much absenteeism, on the part of management. Take the Nova Scotia coal industry, for example. Every decision that has to be made is made in Montreal. The local manager, who knows the mine, knows the employees and knows the operation, whenever a grievance comes up cannot make a decision. It passes through his hands and travels all the way to Montreal if it is a matter of any importance, and after the head office in Montreal have taken two or three weeks fiddling with something they know nothing about, you have trouble on your hands. That machinery is too cumbersome. I would give the mine manager in the local colliery responsibility to deal with the employees in the mines and settle small matters on the spot. These small matters develop into major grievances if they are allowed to drag on for weeks and months awaiting a decision by someone in Montreal, and that has happened many times in the past. Things that could have been settled promptly by the mine manager go to Montreal and are allowed to drag on, and in the meantime the men get tired of waiting for a decision and a colliery stops working here to-day, and another one there to-morrow, on account of this absentee management. If you want to get production you will have to set up regional boards as they have them in Britain, and put on those boards men who know the operation of the mine, competent coal officials who work underground and have grown up with the industry. I have a lot of respect for those fellows. They know their job, but as it is now, they cannot exercise responsibility because grievances have to be referred to Montreal. I would also have on the board some of the miners themselves who know how to get production. Other things that slow up production are a lack of compressed air, a shortage of timber, a shortage of machinery. All these things enter into production. The last time I was home I travelled the local unions and heard man after man discuss these matters and point out these things which militate against production, and which could be cured in fifteen minutes if only someone took hold and went after them.

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The minister likes to get things done. He is an engineer and is used to getting things done. If he -will take hold of this realistically and work dosely with the men and check up at once on whatever is slowing up production, I think production can be increased to a great extent in Nova Scotia.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Several days ago there was a question asked with reference to the water supply for Mossbank, Saskatchewan, where there is an airfield and aerodromes. The minister whose estimates were before the committee at the time said that the question did not come within his department but under Munitions and Supply. As I understand it, the water supply of Mossbank is supplied from Moose Jaw.

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LIB
NAT
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

From Johnston lake, seven and a half miles away.

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June 15, 1943