Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)
Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):
Mr. Chairman, the committee have been given the latest information on the expansion of our armed services and have been brought up to date on the production of the materials and facilities for war.
Man-power is basic to all accomplishments, and my colleagues, I believe, will be the first to agree that the work of the Department of Labour is an integral part of the story of achievement which they have been privileged to tell.
In my opinion the true yardstick of a successful man-power policy is the degree to which the armed forces are mobilized for the job of fighting and the material resources organized for maximum output of munitions, food and all the other things necessary.
At the end of 1943 we had more men and women in our forces than at any previous time in our history. Despite this, production for war was on an unprecedented scale.
It must be realized that as new types of war equipment are required, or as the emphasis of military requirements changes, we must revise our man-power allocation to meet the new needs.
I have before me a table which shows that
5.057.000 or 57 per cent out of a total population of 8,820,000 aged fourteen and over were in the armed forces or at work at December 1, 1943. From the beginning of the war to that date there was a total increase of 1,317,000 or 35 per cent in the number at work or in the armed forces; from January 30 to December 1, 1943, we added 177,000.
Growth in the number of women in employment and in the services has been phenomenal, increasing from 638,000 in August, 1939, to
1.075.000 as of October 1, 1943, a gain of
437.000 in the four years.
The strength of our armed forces has gone up by 759,000 since war began; 124,000 joining the forces in the ten months ended December 1, 1943. The number of workers of both sexes in war industry alone was 1,104,000 at the same date.
We have arrived at our present position by constant adjustment of the selective service machinery capable of putting the most workable plans into effect.
Every effort has been made to bring into our man-power pool the skill and services of all our people. We had, as we know, a breathing space in the early months of the war. We were able to study the problems of man-power control, in which we had little experience on this continent. After the fall of France in the summer of 1940 Canada was looked to as an arsenal of supply in the battle for world freedom. Compulsory calls for military training were introduced. We took stock of our human resources through national registration. We buckled down to the task of augmenting our skilled man-power, notably through the war emergency training programme. Many other measures were adopted to effect a general mobilization of our industrial and man-power assets.
Selective service was introduced through orders in council which became effective on March 23, 1942. Under P.C. 2250 permits to enter certain classes of industries and occupations were required. P.C. 2251 stabilized employment in agriculture. These two orders in council were the basis of operation for two months.
P.C. 5038, passed in June 1942, ordered every person, male or female, regardless of age, to obtain a permit for any employment. There were a few minor exceptions to this broad rule.
In August, 1942, P.C. 7595 replaced P.C. 5038. Under this order:
Permits to seek and enter employment were required;
Employment could be terminated only on service of notice of separation;
Employers had to report vacancies;
A basis for a labour priority schedule was established.
Advertising for help was controlled. Compulsory direction of unemployed persons to employment came into effect.
Provisions were made for reinstatement in employment and supplementary allowances.
These selective service regulations continued in force until January 19, 1943, when the present order in council P.C. 246 took effect. This order consolidated all the selective service regulations relating to civilians, includ-ings those dealing with technical personnel and labour exit permits. Major developments in the regulations since then have been in the way of compulsory transfers of civilians.
Selective service also was given authority to direct to any suitable employment persons who had been found unfit for service in the armed forces.
In September last, it was decided that no person employed in a "designated establishment" could leave his employment without the permission in writing of a selective service officer. Correspondingly, the employer could riot discharge an employee in such an establishment without permission. "Designated establishment" means an establishment which has been given an "A" or "B" labour priority rating.
Our major problem on the civilian side is to maintain an adequate working force in the high priority industries. The system of separation notices has done much to maintain man-power in war production.
The rules are not inflexible, being administered in a practical sense as a control rather than a prohibition. Where good reason for termination of employment either by employee or employer is shown, the selective service officer gives approval and an attempt is then made to place the worker in other high priority employment. In order that the local office may do the job assigned to it, it must have a complete picture of both supply and demand. It must have available information regarding all existing vacancies and knowledge of the men and women available to fill those vacancies. It then is in a position to make use of the labour priority schedule and continue the movement upward of available employees into the higher labour priority brackets.
During 1943 some 1,944,026 placements were made by our employment service offices.
The national selective service advisory board was reconstituted in March, 1943. No significant regulations concerning man-power are issued, without approval of this board. It is one of the major instruments for consultation and collaboration between government, employers, workers and farmers.
Next is the national selective service administration board, over which the director of national selective service presides. This board is composed of the associate directors of national selective service and carries the burden of the day-to-day administrative problems. As members of the administration board are also members of the advisory board, coordination of advisory and administrative functions is as complete as possible.
Decentralization has been provided for by the appointment of regional directors and regional national selective service advisory boards in Quebec, Ontario, the prairies and the Pacific. An advisory board for the maritimes will be constituted in due course.
These regional boards are under the chairmanship of the respective regional directors and include the chairmen of the mobilization board and the regional employment committee, the regional employment superintendent, one or more representatives of labour, representatives of the wartime prices and trade board and the Department of Munitions and Supply.
These boards act in an advisory capacity to the regional director in the same wTay that the national board assists the director of national selective service. To these boards I am adding representatives of the Departments of National Defence and Agriculture.
It was extremely fortunate that unemployment insurance was inaugurated in 1940 as this led to the creation of a national employment service. Thus we laid a solid foundation for our war-time man-power machinery. Up to 1940 there was no wholly dominion employment service. Now there are 242 offices in five regions across Canada, staffed by some 5,200 persons.
It is in the nature of things that complaints are given publicity, whereas the praises of our employment service are seldom heard. An incident comes to my mind which suggests the other side of the picture. It concerns the work of the Edmonton office. The American authorities called the manager of the local office one Saturday morning requesting 250 men for a construction camp to leave for Waterways on the following Monday. When the manager inquired what they wanted in the way of men, the reply was to the effect, "You know what we want-superintendent, foremen, carpenters, labourers, cooks, handymen-everything that goes to make up a camp, and we want them on the train Monday morning." When asked whom the men would be working for the reply was, "We don't know yet-you will have to coin a name for the contractor because we haven't let the contract yet or formed any company to handle it." To cut a long story short, the local manager got busy with two radios, sending out calls at intervals on Saturday afternoon and evening. He opened the office at 6 a.m. on Sunday, kept it open all day, opened again at 6 a.m. on Monday, arranged for a special train and at 11 a.m. on that morning the train pulled out for Waterways with 250 men on board.
When I addressed the committee in June last only two compulsory labour transfer orders had been issued and our experience in the problem of compulsory direction was limited. We have now seven orders which are applicable to every male person who has attained the age of sixteen years and has not attained the age of forty-one years. The orders issued to March 15 have involved an examination of the employment of no fewer
than 99,453 individuals who have been personally interviewed. There have been 15,359 transfers. It is worth noting that very few of the 15,000 raised any objection and in the extremely few cases which did arise, forty or so in number, there were adjustments without having to resort to prosecution.
I do not mean to imply, Mr. Chairman, that national selective service regulations in general would be of value if there was not some power of enforcement behind them, but it was recognized that time should be given to allow for public education.
As of August 1, 1943, only a small number of prosecutions had been commenced. It was then decided to take a more serious view of instances of non-compliance and contraventions. A vigorous policy of enforcement has since been carried on.
At the present time, the machinery of the department includes an extended enforcement organization operating in our five regional divisions. From July, 1943, to the end of February of this year, 14,765 cases of reported contraventions were investigated and studied. Apart entirely from the number of actual prosecutions much constructive work is being accomplished in the adjustment of complaints and settlement of disputes.
It will be noted that the number of reported contraventions indicates that a very important work is being done in adjusting and settling disputes in the field, in fact over ninety-five per cent of the cases are settled without prosecution. The general acceptance of these wartime rules and restrictions by employer and employee alike indicates a spirit of cooperation on the part of the great majority of those affected.
Steps have been taken to protect the personal liberty of the individual against what might be felt to be an arbitrary ruling of a national selective sendee official. Any man who is directed by a selective service officer to leave his employment for higher priority work, or who is directed to remain in his present employment, or any person who is affected by the ruling, order or direction of a selective sendee officer, has the right of appeal to a court of referees.
These courts were originally established for hearing appeals regarding unemployment insurance benefits. They have an equal number of employer and employee representatives on them, with an impartial chairman, are constituted on a district basis, and are not subject to administrative control. The result is that an appeal is heard by a court whose members are familiar with labour conditions in the district. Here is democracy in action. These courts have heard over 2,500 appeal cases up
[Mr. Mitch ell.l
to the 31st March, 1944. Considering the tremendous volume of work which has fallen upon selective service officers it is of considerable significance that such a small number of their decisions have been appealed. The fact that less than one-third of the total number of appeals heard were allowed, is also strongly indicative of the soundness with which selective service officers have made directions, rulings and orders.
I should like now to deal with the specific branches, particular problems and achievements of the Department of Labour's wartime activities.
Women's division. I am glad to record here the magnificent part played by the women of Canada in all phases of our war effort. They have come forward voluntarily to accept all kinds of work at a rate and with a spirit that is nothing short of spectacular.