James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)
Hon. J. L. ILSLEY (Minister of Finance):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to take this opportunity to advise the house that, after a careful review of all elements in the problem, we have reached the conclusion that it will be necessary to introduce meat rationing in Canada at an early day.
Canada is normally a meat exporting nation, and during the past three and a half years we have greatly increased our exports of meat products as one part of our contribution to the united prosecution of the war.
During the past year the total production of meats in this country has been even greater than in previous years. Notwithstanding considerable increases in our exports we had available for domestic consumption in 1942 supplies of meat which were approximately equal to the supplies available in 1941. Increased incomes, increased spending power on the part of large sections of the community, however, have resulted in an increased demand for meat, with the result that during the past eight or nine months spasmodic distribution shortages of meat have occurred in several parts of the country. These shortages have occurred chiefly in large urban areas in central Canada and in those parts of the country where local production is less than local supply.
It is estimated that the total civilian meat consumption in Canada in 1941 averaged 2-5
pounds per person per week. In 1942 the per capita consumption was about the same, but the increased desire and ability to purchase meat resulted in apparent shortages. In 1943 the domestic supply, after allowing for existing export commitments, will be no greater than in 1942 and may be somewhat less, while the potential consumer demand is almost certain to be greater. With an increased potential demand, and a stationary or decreased supply, there are bound to be serious difficulties of equitable distribution, and the spasmodic distribution shortages of 1942 would become chronic shortages over considerable parts of the country. This consideration alone would constitute a sufficient justification for meat rationing.
There is, however, another reason for rationing, and that is the necessity of maintaining an adequate flow of supplies overseas, where the members of our forces, as well as our allies who are in the front line of battle, must be fed.
There is an advisory committee on nutrition to the foods administration, which consists of the following members: Dr. E. W. McHenry, School of Hygiene, university of Toronto; Dr.
D. L. Thomson, Department of Biochemistry, McGill - university; Dr. J. Harry Ebbs, Pmdi-atric Research Foundation, Toronto; Dr. L. B. Pett, Director of Nutrition Services, Department of Pensions and National Health, Ottawa; Wing Commander F. F. Tisdall, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.
I wish to quote this committee as follows:
After careful examination , of the various nutritional implications of meat rationing, the advisory committee on nutrition to the foods administration has reached the following conclusion:
"A ration allowance of twTo pounds of meat, plus customary and available amounts of milk, eggs, cheese, fish and poultry, gives more protein from animal sources to satisfy nutritional requirements than is required for a person of any occupation."
The advisory committee on nutrition is unanimously^ of the opinion that differential meat rationing, on the basis of occupation, is unnecessary from the viewpoint of nutrition.
The wartime prices and trade board proposes, with the government's approval, to establish a weekly ration for all persons at approximately two pounds.
Prospective supply statistics on meat are in their nature not as accurate as we would like to have, but it is estimated that after taking care of our present bacon contract, and the requirements of our armed forces and such priority needs as the Red Cross, ships' stores and certain special war projects, there will remain after rationing, a balance to augment the supplies now being sent overseas. These
additional supplies are needed because of an unavoidable reduction in shipments from other sources, and will be used, not to increase the-British ration of meat, but only to assist in. maintaining it at its present low level.
In brief, the proposed meat rationing plan-will result in a moderate reduction in the total consumption of meat in Canada, but will still allow a quantity of meat which is-safely above the minimum nutritional requirements of an active adult male worker. It will result in a more equitable distribution of supplies and will make it possible to increase the quantities which we can make available for shipment overseas.
I do not propose to go into details of the rationing plan, except to say that after consultation the wartime prices and trade board has been authorized to proceed with the necessary planning as quickly as possible. Accordingly, the details are now being worked out by the wartime prices and trade board, and the plan of rationing to be adopted, together with the effective date, will be announced by the board as soon as the programme is ready. I can, however, indicate one or two points which have been decided:
1. It is proposed that the plan go into operation early in May.
2. It is not proposed to put burdensome, restrictions on the slaughter of live stock by farmers for their own use and consumption. We shall appeal most earnestly, however, to all farmers who slaughter their own meat to live well within the spirit of the ration. In order to control the supply of meat entering into the channels of trade, there will be restrictions on the right of farmers and of other persons to slaughter for sale.
3. To conserve meat supplies and to avoid discrimination against those who do not make frequent use of restaurants, it is proposed to establish meatless days in all restaurants, hotels and public eating places. This will, of course, be in addition to the usual restrictions on supplies to such establishments that go with all forms of rationing.
4. Steps will be taken to see that those who hold space in private cold-storage lockers are not allowed to use such space to evade rationing or to secure any special advantage in obtaining meat supplies.
It is expected the wartime prices and trade board will be ready to give full details of the meat rationing plan within the next two weeks. This will give sufficient time to the public and the trade to familiarize themselves with the details of the plan and thus contribute to the smooth functioning of the ration.
In conclusion I want to emphasize that meat rationing in a country like Canada is a difficult and complicated task. It will be made less difficult with the wholehearted cooperation of all groups in the community. We have had that in a large measure in the past and we confidently count upon it in the future. We attach a great deal of importance to the success of meat rationing, and I should like to say that once the programme is introduced a very serious view will be taken of any attempts as fraudulent practices, which might lead toward the development of "black markets".