May 6, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)



Per 112 pounds, a quintal. Last year it was $3.75. This decline in production is due to the loss of markets, which had been almost exclusively foreign, and that restriction in markets was in turn the result of the contraction of purchasing power in the consuming countries. It was attributable also in a measure to new economic policies adopted by those countries in the way of quotas, high tariffs and restrictions in various ways against imports of Canadian fish. Another factor that has contributed more than anything else to depress the dried fish industry has been the increasingly severe competition the producers have had to meet from foreign countries. Before the great war Europe exported very little fish to South America, the West Indies and the United States, which constituted up to that time our best and almost exclusive market. After the war, some countries induced their people to enter the dried fish industry on a large scale and public funds were provided to increase production and keep down the cost of such production to individuals. Norway and Newfoundland have displaced,

Salt Fish Board

by the means of subventions, subsidies and bounties, our Canadian product in markets which were formerly enjoyed by our exporters.
No one in Canada is responsible for the existence of the present conditions in the salt fish industry. Nevertheless we have to meet a condition under which about twenty thousand people have to depend for their livelihood, and that of their dependents, on the returns of a trade which to-day does not return the cost of production. It may be said that these twenty thousand Canadians should turn to some other occupation. But everyone who is familiar with the geography and the economic conditions of the Atlantic coast knows that it is impossible to absorb that number of people into industries which do not exist. In the localities where these fishermen are situated, the land is not adaptable to profitable farming. There are no manufacturing industries of any kind and there are no natural industries that could take care of these people.
For the last five years the annual return to those who have been engaged in the production of salt fish averaged about $190 to each fisherman.

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