Warner Herbert Jorgenson
Mr. W. H. Jorgenson (Provencher):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to take just a few moments in which to deal with this bill inasmuch as it affects the people in my constituency. If we were to listen to the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Bryce) perhaps I should not get up and talk here at all, because he stated that lawyers should not be talking on farm bills. If that is true, I have no right to talk on a labour bill. But this bill does affect the people I represent, and therefore I should like to make a few comments on it.
I am sure the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) is quite sincere in his desire to help the people he represents, and I am equally sure that his colleagues, particularly the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue), who has been a very able spokesman in this house for the farmers, is equally sincere.
But there are some difficulties, as I see the situation. I fear this bill is going to create an imbalance between industry and agriculture. There are real problems which exist in agriculture today. The price of the things we have to buy is increasing, while the price of the goods we have to sell is falling. This is a real problem and the disparity has been growing apace in the past few years. I would not suggest for a moment that wage increases are the only course of price increases. Indeed in these days of automation and organization wage increases in industry represent a very small portion of those price increases. But to the small businessman in towns in rural areas this presents a problem.
I should like to give the house just one example. I know of a businessman in my local town who wanted to hire extra help for the fall months. I think most hon. members will know that the margin of profit in most of these small businesses is very small. This individual managed to secure the services of an old age pensioner who was very happy to supplement his meagre pension, and they agreed on a salary, but the businessman was later informed that he was violating the minimum wage law of the province. Consequently he had a choice of increasing his wage or of letting the man go. He chose the latter course.
Now this was a disadvantage for both, and I am sure that this bill is not going to help
the situation. In the result, the old age pensioner lost his opportunity to supplement his income, and the businessman could not provide the type of service that he wished to provide for his customers who were mainly farmers, without increasing the cost of what he had to sell. He could, of course, have complied with the regulations, but that would have meant increasing the cost to the farmers.
This appears to be the confused philosophy of the C.C.F. group-playing both ends against the middle; giving a great deal of lip service to the needs of the common man, yet advocating policies which would prevent him from making decisions which are rightfully his. I do not deny to organized labour the opportunity or the right of collective bargaining, or the right to achieve for themselves the highest standard of living possible, but I do believe that we should not assume the responsibility for arbitrarily determining what wages should be.
I, for one, would be interested to hear what the farmer members of the C.C.F. party will say about this bill. I note they have been strangely silent up to now. I feel that the passing of this legislation will be another stage in increasing the disparity between conditions in industry and on the farm.
Subtopic: PROVISION OP MINIMUM RATE OF WAGES FOR EMPLOYEES