June 30, 1951

LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

After arrival in Canada they may call for a short period of time at one or other of the hostels. If they should be ill at that time it is the responsibility of the federal authorities. However, when they are placed in employment, in common with other Canadians, they become the responsibility of the provincial authorities.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

I understand this item

includes an amount to be spent in assisting

Supply-Labour

the movement of immigrants to Canada to work in the sugar beet fields in, for example, my own province of Manitoba. If that is so, I should like to ask a question of the minister. As he knows, the question as to the welfare and continuing employment of these people has been the subject matter of some concern and even some controversy in my province. I understand federal money is expended to help bring these people over, and that it is done at the request of the Manitoba Sugar Company.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

At the request of the province, so far as we are concerned.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

All right, at the request of the province; but I believe it is correct to say that so far as Manitoba is concerned the province is simply passing on a request made to it by the Manitoba Sugar Company. I understand that as a rule these people are brought over at the season of the year in which they are most needed in the sugar beet fields, and that when the fall comes along and there is no further need for their services in that connection, in places where there are contracts with the Manitoba Sugar Company, these persons find themselves having to report to the employment offices in Winnipeg which come under the jurisdiction of the minister. It would seem that this does present a problem.

I quite approve the policy of aiding immigration to this country, particularly when it is on a selective basis or when it is on humanitarian grounds. But it does seem to me that, if we are going to spend federal money assisting a company like the Manitoba Sugar Company to get over here employees whom they need, that company has some responsibility to see to it that these people are continued in employment and not thrown back on the various governments when the company has no further need for them. In the spring the company may want them back. If the company is going to act that way I do not think they should get any financial assistance from the public. On the other hand, if we do provide assistance I suggest that some responsibility rests upon the company. I should be glad to have some comment from the minister on this matter.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

I know of the matter to which my hon. friend refers. We have had no serious complaints from those brought in or from the municipal authorities that people had been left on their hands. The information I have had so far is that after they are through working for the sugar beet company, in the main they find employment in some other field of activity. I shall be glad to look into the matter during the recess.

Supply-Labour

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

In other words, they come to the minister's officials to ask for employment. It would not appear to be accepted as the responsibility of the company, despite the fact that they have had a definite form of assistance. .

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

They come to the national employment service to see what openings there are, just the same as other Canadians who might be seeking employment anywhere in Canada.

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LIB

Auguste Maltais

Liberal

Mr. Maltais:

Has there been any request for outside labour in connection with the development on the north shore of the St. Lawrence at Seven Islands? -

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LIB
PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Following the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, the minister stated that so far there had been no protests from the municipalities. I do not suppose any municipality would protest if only a small measure of assistance was being required. The fact is that we have been going through a period of fairly full employment. These seasonal employees are being quite readily absorbed, but I am thinking of the situation which caused' me to make some extended remarks when we were discussing the unemployment insurance regulations earlier in the session. If we had even a minor recession many of these people would become a definite charge upon the municipality, because the provinces do not enter into the picture. I do not want to speak at any length on this matter, but I feel we must take this question under consideration.

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Item agreed to. Unemployment Insurance Act. 1940- 201. Administration, including expenditures incurred in connection with the activities of the national employment service as delegated by the Minister of Labour in accordance with section 88 of the act, $23,847,199.


PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

When, the unemployment insurance advisory committee reported for the year ending March 31, 1950, they stated:

The committee has considered the advisability of Instituting a new actuarial investigation.

After remarking that the time for this *eemed inopportune, they went on to say:

The committee does intend, however, to have partial investigations made on the basis of information on a sample of contributors from which it hopes to obtain guidance in its future recommendations.

Can the minister say whether any progress has been made along that line?

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

The report has not finally been dealt with, but is being carefully considered. I have nothing to report on that as yet.

iMr. Gregg.]

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

There is another point I should like to bring up in connection with the unemployment insurance commission, the unemployment insurance advisory committee and any other committees which may be set up. I notice that item 714 of the supplementary estimates refers to an advisory committee. Some time ago I asked for information with respect to the number of male and female employees in the unemployment insurance commission. I find that there are 3,900 male and approximately 3,000 female employees. As all hon. members know, there is a large female labour force in the country.

Without attempting at all to upset the present standing of the commission, I suggest to the minister that if and when there is a vacancy consideration should be given to the appointment of a woman.. If there is no prospect of a change in the near future, I suggest that a woman be appointed as an additional commissioner. I suggest also that there be a woman member on the unemployment insurance advisory committee. I think it goes without saying that no one understands the problems of women workers better than a woman, and I believe the large female labour force should have representation on each of these bodies.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

Under the present statute one member of the unemployment insurance commission is appointed after consultation with the national labour organization; one member is appointed after consultation with the national employer organization, and the chairman is appointed by the government. I shall be glad to give consideration to the suggestions of the hon. member. I think our advisory committees generally have woman members.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

It might be difficult to

enlarge the commission when it is appointed in that way. I know a commission may be, made unwieldy because of persons appointed to represent specific segments of the population; nevertheless these problems present themselves from time to time for and on behalf of women, and I think there should be a woman commissioner.

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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hatfield:

Has the minister considered the payment of allowances for sickness?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

Before the minister answers perhaps I may be permitted to say a word. I suggest that along with the study of annuity matters that the minister told us this morning was to be made between now and the time parliament meets again, he might also consider amendments to the Unemployment Insurance Act to extend the coverage, at least under certain circumstances, to periods of illness.

The minister knows from debates that have taken place in former sessions that

some of us, the hon. member for Vancouver East and I in particular, have emphasized how unfair we feel it is, and how unfair the workers feel it is, that a worker on unemployment insurance, because there is no work for him, is cut off benefits if he happens to take ill, even though there is still no work for him. There are still wider changes that some of us might advocate, but it seems to me this is an immediate request that should be met, namely that when a worker goes on benefits and qualifies for them in the usual way, he should not have those benefits cut off because he takes ill. It has happened to a good many workers who have been on benefits and have not known of this regulation that on a certain day of the week when they were supposed to report they have sent their wives to collect the benefits and the wife is asked where her husband is. She says that he is at home ill, and immediately he is cut off unemployment insurance benefit, at a time when he needs it more than ever, despite the fact that there is still no job for him.

We have developed that argument so fully in previous debates that I do not need to go into it in detail now, but I say hopefully that I trust the minister will give the matter very active study during the recess. When he consults his departmental officials on the matter I am sure he will find that it has been studied by his officials and there must be quite a body of material on it.

One other supporting argument I should like to make is that away back in the November, 1944, issue of "Canadian Affairs", a pamphlet put out by the wartime information board which was sent mainly to the troops overseas to tell them what was going on back home, this question was dealt with as follows:

Unemployment Insurance only covers the worker who has lost a job and is still available for employment. If you are sick, you aren't available for employment-so you don't get unemployment insurance. Once health insurance is finally put into operation, it probably won't be long until the Unemployment Insurance Act is amended to provide for payment of benefits during the period of a workman's illness. If that happens then a worker off for sickness would get unemployment insurance sickness benefit to make up for lost wages and would have his medical and hospital expenses met out of the health insurance fund-to which he has been contributing.

I recognize that we have not yet the health insurance which that very pamphlet forecast as something to be expected in the near future. But I suggest that if the Department of National Health and Welfare is too slow in proceeding with health insurance, the Minister of Labour might give a lead in this field by bringing in the kind of amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act that was

Supply-Labour

forecast in that "Canadian Affairs" pamphlet sent overseas to the troops in November, 1944.

I need not go into the matter further, because the records of Hansard are full of arguments on the point. In this corner of the house we have felt at times that we had sufficiently made our point to hope that the amendment would be forthcoming soon. I hope the minister's study between now and the fall will bear fruit.

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LIB

Milton Fowler Gregg (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Gregg:

I can assure my hon. friend of a study at least.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

I should like to point out that considerable study is necessary on the point raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. For example, in many industries the worker pays into a sick benefit fund. He pays for that insurance against a time of unemployment because of sickness. At the same time he contributes to the unemployment insurance fund which provides for benefits during a period of unemployment. When the worker takes ill he is entitled to collect the insurance for which he has been paying because he is not able to carry on his regular work. The sick benefit that he draws amounts to perhaps ten per cent of what his normal wages would be. Under the circumstances, with the worker away from work because of sickness and collecting insurance that he has paid for, I think he is also legitimately entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits for which he has already paid, because he is only receiving about ten per cent of his normal wages.

I refer particularly to the steel and coal industries in my part of the country. The worker is placed in the position that if he applies for unemployment insurance under the circumstances I have described, the company will immediately take the stand that he has severed his connection with them as an employee, and his pension rights are affected. He has a pension plan, and if he ceases his employment then he loses his pension rights.

This subject has been a controversial one for a number of years in my part of the country. I am questioned about it all the time. I think the worker is entitled to the unemployment insurance for which he has paid. I think he is entitled to collect the sick benefit insurance for which he has paid. I am asked whether a man should apply for unemployment insurance, and I have to warn him that if he does, it is taken as an indication that he has severed his connection with the company, that he is no longer an employee, and that he will lose out on the pension scheme in which he has participated to protect his future.

Supply-Labour

There has been a lot of wrangling about the matter. When the minister is making an analysis of the problem, I think something should be done to correct the situation. In the first place the worker is entitled to the sickness insurance for which he has paid, and which amounts to about ten per cent of his earnings. Second, the worker is entitled to collect unemployment insurance benefits, because he has already paid for them. Some understanding should be reached also with these large companies that a worker's pension rights will not be affected if he applies for unemployment insurance under circumstances such as I have described.

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June 30, 1951