Edward Joseph Garland
United Farmers of Alberta
Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
That then is most unfortunate. Mr. Stuart Chase has treated this subject most eloquently. He asks the question, "Have you ever hunted a job, and if so, have you ever hunted a job when you were over forty years of age? If you have not done that, you do not know the tragedy of unemployment and you have no conception of what it does to the heart and soul of a human being, of what it does to his family." Have you ever heard a wife say, "Well, Jim is lucky if he can hold his job," or "John does not know when he will be out of work, perhaps to-morrow or maybe the day after." There is no permanency or no continuity offered to our workers under the present economic system. Without saying that it is the deliberate voracious rapacity to which Disraeli referred, it is evident that there is something wrong with a system which denies to the labouring man a permanency of employment. He does not know from day to day or from week to week whether or not the job upon which his family depends is going to continue. Such conditions are a disgrace to any civilized country. The whole thing is wrong, and Professor Soddy sums it up as follows:
_ On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays science invents new methods of abolishing labour, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays new labours to relieve the consequent unemployment. This farce should cease.
Until he is placed in employment again he must remain a stranger to the buying market. In the meantime the community must care for him and his family in much the same way as though he were a steady permanent worker. But the unemployed are not cared for in any permanent way. They sometimes receive miserable charity, a thing which degrades and demoralizes their morals and reduces them to the miserable condition of almost industrial serfage. Public confidence is shaken and I say to the Prime Minister that his own government even is feeling the 'tremors of uncertainty caused by this unemployed situation.
There follows upon it immediately a curtailment of credit which deprives further numbers of employment, resulting in a greater decline of buying power which leads to a further reduction of credit and so on. The whole thing is a most extraordinary, uncontrolled, vicious system, governed only by the profits which those who control credit can make, and this is
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
the fundamental factor which governs the system under which we are to-day operating. I say to the Prime Minister that until he and his colleagues appoint a body to make a survey of economic and social conditions, a commission capable of intelligently analyzing this situation, he has not taken any step in the direction of a real solution of this problem. Unemployment and under-employment are two of the most destructive diseases which can visit any community, national or international. They render a human being physically unfit; they weaken his moral as well as his physical fibre so that when work does offer the man is unable to compete with those who have been in steady employment. One wretched condition leads to another. If this thing is permitted to go on it will sap the whole vitality and vigour of all nations; for this thing is not confined alone to our country. Children brought up under such conditions must inevitably be less virile, less conscious of their possible powers, than those brought up under privileged circumstances. Can the child in a home where they do not know from day to day where tomorrow's bread is coming from; can the child in a home dependent upon some form of charity, have the same self-respect as have your own children? The words are not at my command to bring home as I would like to this House of Commons and to the country the misery of this appalling cancer of unemployment and its effect upon the country.
I do not think it would be unfitting to state that I have no desire to make any political capital out of this matter, but perhaps it would not be out of place if we had a little cynical amusement at the expense of the Minister of Labour. I hope hon. members have recognized that I have made this an absolutely non-partisan question. It is a nonpartisan question and must remain so. It is a problem the solution of which will require the massed intelligence of the people, the best brains we can procure. It is going to be worth while trying to find a solution. But here let me glance back to 1925 and read the following words:
I am sure there is no need for me to argue that unemployment prevails on a very large scale. We have had delegations to the government at Ottawa, and we have recently had a delegation to this government at Toronto. Up to date, there does not seem to have been very much done to relieve the situation, other than one body "passing the buck" to another party.
These, Mr. Speaker, are the words of the Hon. Peter Heenan, M.P.P.,speaking before the members of the provincial legislature of Ontario. At that time he deplored any attitude of 2419-77
"passing the buck." He referred to it in terms of contempt. I ask him frankly, as one member of the community to another, as one who is anxious to cooperate with him: Does he not
think he to-day is "passing the buck"? And to the Prime Minister I say: Would it not
be rather the part of courage and statesmanship to start out now and say definitely: We will accept the responsibility for initiating a scheme of unemployment insurance? I will give the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour all my support in any program they wish to outline that will offer some relief- and that is all it would be at the moment-to this wretched unemployment problem.
But I continue. The Minister of Labour in the same address made a most eloquent appeal. He referred to the vast power of the country to produce, to its great resources, to its great plant capable of producing 20 per cent more than it was producing. He referred to the financial conditions, the amount of money there was in the country, and he almost wept tears because we were unable to solve the problem of unemployment. But he comes down to this towards the close of his speech:
Men are out of work here because of irregular and uneven demand for labour. Some definite step ought to be taken now. Any government, which fails or refuses to help its people to procure the necessities of life, cannot hope to retain the loyalty of its people.
I am afraid the minister's statement at that time was but prophecy. Any government which neglects this appalling problem and fails to make some constructive contribution towards its solution, will undoubtedly lose the loyalty of the people of this country. The hon. member concluded with the following:
I have dwelt at considerable length in connection with this question, because to my mind it is the most important question we have to contend with, and T sincerely hope that the time I have consumed will not be in vain and that some definite and systematic policy will be laid down by the governments of this country to meet this economic problem.
Not the Ontario government nor the Alberta government, nor any provincial government did he refer to specifically; he said: "The
governments of this country." If we are to wait until provincial governments take the initiative, I am afraid we shall have to wait for a long time. At this particular point let me say this: I cannot strain or stress too
vigorously the thought that this problem is a state problem and that the federal government as a major element in the state cannot reject its responsibility.
The Russell Sage Foundation, which by the way is an organization that was formed in
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
order to make an inquiry into the social and economic conditions of the United States and Canada, has this to say:
The study touched seventy cities and thirty-one states and Canada:
Widespread unemployment is now a constant phenomenon with far-reaching economic social, psychological and moral bearings. It found that from one to six millions each year were out of work for weeks and sometimes months at a time. In Great Britain unemployment had become so general for several years before the war that the government had been compelled to inaugurate an unemployment insurance policy in order to relieve the suffering caused by the so-called captains of industry being unable to manage the industry of a nation in the interest of the whole.
Now I turn to one who might be regarded as an even greater authority than the Russell Sage Foundation. This authority says:
The sacredness of human personality is more important than all other considerations. Without infinite regard for individual life, however obscure or deformed, impressions of social values are meaningless. Estimates of national power, pride in industrial growth, forecasts_ of world expansion-any and all of these which reckon material gains apart from human losses they involve, mistake for life itself the course texture of but a part of the garment of life.
The same authority goes on, and this is particularly relevant:
When idleness is the fault of the social order rather than of the individual concerned, it places the onus on the state to safeguard its own assets, namely, human beings.
That authority is the Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada. He himself placed the responsibility on the state and he cannot now relinquish his share of the responsibility. If this problem is not tackled we admit that the law of the jungle prevails.
I might refer to other authorities who have made much the same statements. We have Brandeis, Couzens; we have the Minister of Labour in the United States and dozens of others who are steadily recognizing the state's responsibility to its own citizens.
But I must conclude. In this section of the house we are, so far as I know at the moment, unanimous to this degree; we ask that the government immediately initiate some sort of unemployment insurance which can be applied to all the provinces and which will depend upon concurrent legislation by them, involving, if you will, contributions by employer and employee. That is just one phase of the question. I now formally ask the Prime Minister to institute this year a survey into the whole economic and social structure of the country, a survey by Canadian economists-he will not have to go outside of Canada to find suitable men-in order that they may advise him as to a permanent solu-
tion of the problem. It is an honour to second the resolution of the hon. member for North Winnipeg.
Mr. ADSH'EAD: Does my hon. friend not
think that the statement made by the Minister of Labour in London bound the cabinet and the government to something?