Abraham Albert Heaps
Mr. A. A. HEAPS (North Winnipeg):
Mr. Speaker, a good deal has been said during the course of this debate with regard to coal, iron, steel, apples, onions, potatoes and tomatoes, but in carrying on the discussion I do not intend to deal particularly with the question of commodities but rather with what I would term the human factor. We are apt to gauge prosperity, if such exists in this Do-fMr. Veniot.l
minion, by the yardstick of how much is being produced in a given period. The mere fact that production has increased is taken as an indication that prosperity is general throughout the length and breadth of this country. When the Minister of Labour (Mr. Heenan) spoke in this house the other day he said that there were some people who were loath to believe that prosperity really existed in the Dominion of Canada. I am one of those persons, and there are many millions of people in the country who are of the same opinion. In his effort last year to prove that we had prosperity in Canada, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) called the bankers, financiers and industrialists to his assistance. He does not bring those gentlemen forward as witnesses this year to prove that there is prosperity in this country, but satisfies himself with the term "we are prosperous." I would like to know who the Minister of Finance believes is the "we." There may be some people who will say that there is a certain prosperity, but it is w*hat I would term a one-sided prosperity. I would like to know if the minister, or those who agree with his statement, would say that the men engaged on the farms, the mechanics and labourers, are prosperous at the present time. I do not think anyone will deny the statement that the banks, financial institutions and railways are prosperous, but the fact that they are prosperous does not mean that the general body of the people are sharing in that prosperity. Most of the shareholders in those institutions live outside of Canada, and if there are any juicy melons to be cut they are the ones who receive the portions. I do not know what portion of the melon the average man or woman in Canada would receive, but all the average workingman, labourer or agriculturist would get out of the melon would be just the pip. The Minister of Labour quoted figures to show that the volume of wages paid to-day to the men employed on the railways was greater than that paid a number of years ago. I feel constrained to reply to that, because of the fact that a statement made by a minister of the crown may, and probably will, receive wide circulation through the various avenues of publicity which a minister commands. He said that the wages paid on our railways in the year 1923 amounted to $253,320,000; in 1927 to $254,386,000; and that for 1928 the estimate was $276,000,000. In other words, there has been an increase in the wages paid during that period of approximately nine per cent. But the minister neglected to point out one fact. The official Year Book shows
The Budget-Mr. Heaps
that 157,771 were employed on the railroads in 1923, and that that figure had decreased to 144,176 in 1927, or a reduction of 13,595 in the number employed during that five-year period. The question arises in my mind: What has become of those men who are not now required by our railroads? It is quite true that more money is being paid out in the form of wages, but the fact that a comparatively large number of men are receiving a slight increase in wages does not offset the fact that there are a large number of men who are without employment to-day. According to the figures of the minister, the wages paid on the railways in 1923 amounted to an average of $115.50 per month, and this average had increased to $126 per month in 1926. According to the figures submitted by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm), the number of cars of freight loaded in 1923 was 2,851,000, and in 1928 that had increased to 3,696,000; in other words, there had been an increase in the number of cars loaded amounting to 845,000, or approximately 30 per cent. If we take into consideration the fact that a larger type of freight car is being used at the present time, it would not be out of place to say that there has been an increase of approximately 40 per cent in the freight haulage, and yet wages have only gone up 'nine per cent in the same period.
The Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) was good enough last year to give some advice to the people of Canada. He said the people should work and be thrifty; that was the sure road to success and prosperity. Unfortunately or fortunately, I do not know which, the people of Canada have not heeded altogether the advice given by the Minister of Finance, because, since the budget speech of 1928 the gambling that has been indulged in by the people of Canada has been unparalleled in the history of this Dominion. Consequently I can well understand why he is not offering any advice in his budget speech of 1929. But the minister -I do not know whether it was because they did not accept his advice-has this year gone so far as to tax those people who gamble in stocks and bonds and I heartily agree with his action in that regard.
When, however, the Minister of Finance tells the people that there is a wave of prosperity throughout the length and breadth of the Dominion, I feel constrained to take issue with him. One can go from the Pacific coast right to the Atlantic and have great difficulty in finding traces of that prosperity amongst the masses of the people. I know it is quite true that when we consider the figures of banks, railroads and
other large institutions, there is prosperity; large dividends are being paid. But that form of prosperity in the way of dividends and the clipping of coupons is not shared by the great masses of the Canadian people.
The hon. member for Victoria (B.C.) (Mr. Plunkett) told us some days ago of conditions in the city from which he comes. The minister himself visited Victoria last year during a by-election and in order perhaps to give a little more prosperity to the people of British Columbia or more particularly of the city of Victoria he had to make them very large promises. One thing I think the government ought to be thankful for was that the Liberal candidate was not elected in Victoria.
The members from Alberta have told us of conditions in their province. In fact, the discussion which took place in the house in regard to the grain act just prior to the Easter adjournment was in itself sufficient indication of conditions amongst the agriculturists in western Canada. The Minister of Finance did Winnipeg the honour of paying it a visit last summer. I do not know whether he found evidences of prosperity amongst the masses of the people there, but I am glad he visited Winnipeg because I heard that during the time he was there he was introduced to the Seven Sisters.
I come now to the province of Ontario What do we find there? We find amongst industrial workers as well as amongst the farmers the same conditions as we find in western Canada. We have had in the house instance after instance of the conditions that exist there, of the conditions of industrial workers and of the strikes that have taken place. One instance to which I wish to allude at this time is the condition that now prevails in the city of Oshawa. Last year I brought to the attention of the house conditions in that city where the men had been out on strike and where they had had their wages reduced to the extent of approximately 40 per cent. On that occasion I tried to show how little that 35 per cent protection we give to the automobile industry really means to the men employed in that industry. This year, according to statements I have had given to me and letters I have received, I find that wage cuts have been made by the General Motors Corporation; that men have been discharged for no other reason than that they happen to belong to an industrial organization, and that men have been brought in from Germany and other parts of Europe to take the place of men who have worked for that company during the past twenty
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years. As I said a moment or two ago, I have received several communications and I am going to read extracts from one or two that have come to me within the past few weeks. This one, which is dated Oshawa, March 13, reads:
Instances can be proved where Canadian citizens have been let out of their jobs and these imported Germans being put into their places. One reason for this is probably due to the fact that the Germans have agreed to pay back to the company the full amount of their passage money at the rate of $25 per month.
That is an indication that the passage money for these people was paid by the company to bring them from Germany so that they could take the places of men employed at the Oshawa factory of the General Motors Corporation. The writer continues:
With reference to wage reductions throughout the plant, it is a fact that there have been wage reductions ranging from around 20, to in some cases, 50 per cent. The speed-up in some departments is so bad that men working in the paint department, the stamping plant, the assembly lines, the enamel plant, in fact the whole plant is speeded up to a point where the men are showing signs of physical exhaustion. In spite of the fact that the company agreed not to discriminate against union men, they have persistently followed a policy of intimidation and victimization and have in every instance denied the men any opportunity to clear themselves of such charges that might have been put against them.
I have in my file of correspondence a communication from a man who has worked in the General Motors Corporation for twenty years. He was discharged at a moment's notice and we are powerless in the house to do anything in regard to the whole situation. There is another case of a man who worked there who, when he was told his services were no longer required, was informed that he should go and see Jimmy Simpson who happens to be vice-president of the Trades Union Congress of Canada.
This is the case of a man who worked there for quite a long time and who was told to go and get his discharge slip. This is what he writes in regard to what happened when he went to the office:
I was given a gold badge for long and satisfactory service, and was told that my services were no longer required.
Another man who had been there for three years was hired again by the company, and when they found that he had been formerly employed by them, his services were also no longer required. In the Oshawa papers and in papers in other parts of the country, you do not find a word being published in regard to conditions at the Oshawa plant.
I come now perhaps a little closer to Ottawa than. Oshawa in order to examine some of this so-called prosperity with which members of the house are being continually regaled, and in which I am loath to believe. We are meeting here within a stone's throw of the city of Hull. Speaking in the Quebec legislature not many weeks ago, the provincial member for Hull Mr. A. Guertin had this to say about the prosperity in the city he represented in that legislature:
The minister did not tell us that barely a month ago the Eddy Company warned the city of Hull that it could barely carry on unless reduction of civic taxation was granted. It formerly employed 2,000 hands, whereas it now has only 1,025, of which difference the abandonment of the match industry only accounts for 500. There are 2,000 unemployed in the city of Hull under the era of perfect prosperity boasted of by the government.
A little further on the same provincial member says:
Continuing, the member for Hull deplored the many restrictions visited on the Gatineu district, whose inhabitants might no longer hunt game, carry firearms, enjoy freedom in fishing, or other liberty. All that they were offered in exchange was work in the shanties of the International Paper Company at a wage varying between $25 to $40 per month. Contract work was no better and generally ended in overwhelming debt for the man that took it on.
I have no need even to go to the city of Hull. I think of tihe statement made by the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot) in this house only a few minutes ago. When we are boasting of a surplus in the budget this year of approximately $70,000,000, the Postmaster General informs us that some of the lowest paid men in the Dominion of Canada, postal employees, cannot have a slight increase in their pay. Will the Minister of Labour (Mr. Heenan) or any other minister tell me that these postal workers are enjoying some of this so-called prosperity? Yet the government sits there hopeless and powerless to intervene in a simple case of that character.
I feel satisfied that if the government were determined to give tihese postal employees decent and reasonable wages they could somehow or other find ways and means of overcoming the civil service commission.
I will leave this part of the country now, and discuss conditions in Nova Scotia and . the maritime provinces. I do not think that any member of this house, no matter on which side he sits, who has seen conditions in the [DOT] maritimes with his own eyes, will say that there is prosperity in those provinces. I was in the maritime provinces myself just a few months ago, and I saw conditions in cities like Sydney and in towns like Glace Bay
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and I want to say to this house that any Canadian who sees for himself the conditions of the masses of the people there is bound to bow his head in shame to think that such conditions can exist in the Dominion of Canada, where we are boasting of our so-called prosperity. When you go into a place like Glace Bay and see young children ill-fed, ill-clothed, going about in the mud in the streets, with the sewage running down a little gully made right in front of the homes of these people, I say tve have no right in this house to talk about prosperity until such conditions are remedied. We all have a responsibility in this matter, and I would go a long way myself to see that conditions in the maritime provinces are remedied in a real and proper way.
What are some of the conditions in the maritimes? Last year a committee of the ministerial asociation of the maritime provinces investigated conditions in the Dominion Iron and Steel works, and on the 5t'h day of November, 1928, they published their findings. I will read just one or two brief extracts from their report, and then perhaps my good friend the Minister of Labour will understand why I am one of those who are loath to believe that there is prosperity in the Dominion of Canada. The report says:
The ordinary work day at the D.I.S. Co. plant is ten hours-from 7.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., with thirty minutes at noon for lunch. For night duty there is a twelve hour term, with thirty minutes at midnight for lunch. For the continuous operations, consisting of the coke ovens, blast furnaces and open hearth departments, involving approximately 1,000 men, the day term is eleven hours and the night thirteen throughout a seven day week.
That is, the men in this department work an average of eighty-four hours every week, sixty-six hours during the week on day duty, and one hundred and two hours for the week on night duty. A little further on the report says:
Your committee cannot help feeling that this is a very cautious and moderate statement. We believe that the plight-it can scarcely be called other
of the some 1,000 men in the contimious operations is a scandal and a shame. To be on night duty, under the most favourable working conditions, from eleven to thirteen hours were trying enough, but when we know the necessarily almost intolerable conditions in which these men have to work, heavy manual labour in gas, smoke, heat, and in some cases, exposure to the elements summer and winter, the situation is nothing less than appalling, and their treatment utterly abhorrent to the dictates of humanity.
I will give my last quotation from tihis rather lengthy report: [DOT]
For the year ending June 30. 1928, as gleaned from the published statement of the corporation, there was an operating surplus of $2,200,000,
as compared with $1,500,000 for the previous year, a total for the two years of the receivership of $3,700,000. (This before anything was set aside for interest on bonds or depreciation.) Now, of that amount, $2,000,000 has been retained for depreciation, $1,000,000 per year, the balance presumably being available for interest charges on bonds, and so forth.
What suggests itself is this-Should $2,000,000 of the profits of the industry which the men at least had helped to make, be set aside, not for repairs (these were taken care of in course of the operations and charged to them), but for future replacements, while not a cent of this amount has been allowed for the better condition of the human element in the industry? It does cost money, doubtless a great deal, to replace the machinery of steel making. Unfortunately, it costs the industry little or nothing to replace men-there is nearly always a surplus of labour.
These are the wages paid in Sydney in the month of November last: The labourer, who we have just heard works from eleven to thirteen hours a day, receives 33 cents per hour; helpers, 36J to 38J cents per hour, and their hours are ten, eleven and thirteen hours per day, according to the shift they happen to be working; handymen, 42J to 50 cents per hour; mechanics, 52 to 57 cents per hour. Mr. Charles Schwab, of the United States Steel Corporation, said recently before the United States investigating committee that the average wages in the United States for a similar class of labour averaged about 63.08 cents per hour.
It has been pointed out by several of the ministers and others that there has been an enormous increase in production in the Dominion of Canada. That is perfectly true. I do not think anybody will deny that there has been a great increase in all lines of industrial and even agricultural activity, but, of course, that does not mean that the people who have produced those commodities are necessarily any better off than they were previously, and I shall try to prove that in a moment or two. Labour efficiency has increased enormously in the last few years. About three years ago I placed figures on Hansard which showed that over a period of about eight or nine years the individual industrial efficiency had increased by approximately 40 per cent. Professor Michell, of McMaster university, Toronto, has made some rather interesting calculations along the same lines, and he arrives at somewhat similar conclusions to those at which I arrived when I made this study a few years ago. He points out that from 1890 to 1900 the value of production per worker increased 15.5 per cent, or 1.55 per cent per year on the average; from 1900 to 1910, the increase was 58.5 per cent or 5.85 per year; from 1910 to 1920, the increase
The Budget-Mr. Heaps
was 7.3 per cent, or 0.73 per cent per year; from 1920 to 1927, the increase was 52.8 per cent, or 8.8 per cent per year.
Now, he shows further that from 1920 to 1927, while production had increased by 52.8 per cent, on the average wages increased only 13 per cent. But even those statistics are not complete in themselves and therefore I shall add a little to them. According to our year books I find that the total wages paid in 1917 to men and women employed in industry was $420,094,869; in 1925, $452,958,655; an increase in dollars-not necessarily in purchasing power -of $32,863,786. In that same period the cost of living increased from 100 in 1917 to 116 in 1925. Therefore if we compare the purchasing power in 1925 with that in 1917-and these are the latest figures available in the Canada Year Book-we find there has been actually a reduction in purchasing power to the disadvantage of 1925; and if the purchasing power of the wages were calculated on the 192o basis real wages would be considerably less than in 1917, the figures, as I make them out, being approximately $34,551,000. In that same period the number of persons employed had decreased from 552,968 to 466,602-a difference of 86,366.
It is quite true, as has been pointed out, that wages may have increased to the individual, but I might give a very simple illustration of how they have been increased. Let us imagine, for instance, a factory employing ten men, paying out ten thousand dollars a year in wages, and producing, say, forty thousand dollars' worth of commodities annually. At the end of one or two years let us assume that two men have been discharged, the remaining eight producing, say, forty-five thousand dollars' worth of commodities, but receiving nine thousand dollars in wages. Then there would be a relative gross reduction in the wages paid, and the general purchasing power would be correspondingly reduced, with the result that the ten people could not purchase the same quantity of commodities as before. This would leave the ten men, in a relatively worse position than at the outset, while those who owned the factory would be getting the benefit of the increased productivity, and the reduction of staff.
Now, Mr. Speaker, a word or two in connection with the amendment to the amendment that was moved by my hon. friend from Battle River (Mr. Spencer) and seconded by myself. In this subamendment it is suggested that we give an increased preference to the people of Great Britain. I believe that is a policy that ought to commend itself to prac-
tically all the members of this house. The Conservative party have been preaching that doctrine for a number of years. We in this corner of the house, who have so often been accused of unfriendliness towards the mother country, to-day desire to give practical expression of our true friendship for the people of Great Britain by extending to them the benefits of a much increased preference.
There is another and perhaps a more important reason why we should give an increased preference to the people of Great Britain. At the present time both the public men and the press of the United States are expressing their intention of raising the tariff against commodities manufactured or grown in Canada. Well, if the people of the United States are not anxious to deal with us, then at least we can transfer our trade to those who are willing to trade with us. And Canada has no better customer than Great Britain. Indeed, our Conservative friends have been telling us in season and out of season, in this house and throughout the country, that we are buying many hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of goods from the United States in excess of what we are selling to them. For this reason it is claimed we should erect a barrier whereby the adverse balance of trade will be reduced if not entirely wiped out. If that doctrine of the Conservative party holds good in relation to the United States, then certainly it must hold good in relation to Great Britain. We sell to Great Britain far more than she sells to us. That being the case, I think Great Britain would be justified in complaining against this adverse balance of trade with us just as insistently as hon. members of the Conservative party complain about our adverse balance of trade with the United States. Therefore one means of overcoming that difficulty would be to grant an increased preference to Great Britain. In this way we in turn may become one of the best customers of the mother country.
In this connection, however, I wish to make one statement that I regard as of particular importance. It has been freely stated in the press, without any denial by any member of the government, that Canada might enter into a trade arrangement with the United States by bartering away our rights in the St. Lawrence waterway. I hope and trust that statements of such a character are entirely without any foundation. If we are to negotiate with the United States on matters of tariff, then we must confine the negotiations to tariffs. The waterway question should in no way be made a bargaining point between the two governments. If the United State*
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wants to use water-powers which may be international in their character, that question must be settled on its merits, and no extraneous question must be allowed to interfere in any such negotiations.
If the United States does not want to deal with the Dominion, then we must find other avenues of commerce. I think my colleague who moved the amendment pointed out one of the avenues of trade now undeveloped is Russia. This country to-day is doing practically no business with Russia; whereas Great Britain, in spite of her diplomatic difficulties with the soviet government has still, I am informed, about twenty-three trade agencies doing business on behalf of the Russian people. Now, Canada has not within its confines one single trade representative of Soviet Russia.
I cannot understand why our Minister of Trade and Commerce, who seems so anxious to develop our trade in all parts of the world, has allowed the occasion to slip by of adding a Canadian representative to the British trade delegation which is now visiting Russia.
A moment or two ago, Mr. Speaker, I referred to our trading with the United States. As I said, if the United States is not anxious to trade with us I am not anxious that we should trade with them. On the other hand, I view with considerable misgiving our entry into negotiations with the government of the United States for the joint development of the St. Lawrence waterway. Let me give my reasons for this disquietude. Two years ago, speaking at a banquet of the United Press in New York, the then president of the United States, Mr. Coolidge, made the following significant statement:
The person and property of a citizen are a part of the general domain of the nation, even when abroad.
One well known citizen of the United States, Mr. Yanderlip by name, commenting on that opinion used some rather caustic language in condemning the speech then delivered by the president of the United States. I should hate to think that where there is United States capital in this country the United States government might claim it to be a part of the United States domain. If that were the case then a great part of Canada would be to-day a portion of the domain of the United States. However, I do not believe that to be the true voice of a very large section of the people of the United States. Nevertheless, when the president of the republic uses language so emphatic, and we witness the subsequent actions of that country in places like Nicaragua, Haiti and elsewhere, we in this country ought to be
extremely careful before bartering away any of the rights and heritages we may have in this Dominion. I rather prefer the United States of Abraham Lincoln, as represented by him on many occasions, and perhaps I might be allowed to quote a few sentences of his spoken on one famous occasion when he referred to labour in his country. I much prefer the United States of Abraham Lincoln to the United States of ex-President Coolidge, and as my time has about expired I will conclude by quoting this great American:
Labour is prior to capital and deserves much the higher consideration. Who and what is labour? You are labour, if you work for a living. You till the soil, you mine the coal, you write the books and spin the yarn. You invent cunning machines, you serve and sell across counters and you build the dwellings of men, all the world over.
In America you are the great majority. All that serves labour serves the nation. All that harms labour is treason to America! No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America yet hates labour, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labour, he is a fool. There is no America without labour, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE