CAUCHON, Robert, C.M.

Personal Data

Beauharnois--Salaberry (Quebec)
Birth Date
September 10, 1900
Deceased Date
December 17, 1980

Parliamentary Career

June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Beauharnois (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Beauharnois--Salaberry (Quebec)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Beauharnois--Salaberry (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 3)

November 27, 1957

Mr. Cauchon:

Mr. Chairman, by now the hon. Minister of Labour must be well aware of the unemployment situation as revealed by the dominion bureau of statistics. It has been reported both in the press and in this house.

As my riding is primarily industrial, I too feel it my duty to draw his attention to the rapid increase in the numbers of unemployed. For instance, in the Montreal area alone the increase is 14,000, according to figures released from the Montreal unemployment insurance commission to the Montreal Star, of November 22. In the country at large, as reported by the hon. Minister of Labour on November 21, 1957, there were 188,362

unemployed last year, as at November 8, 1956. As of November 7, 1957 the number stands at 327,388.

What has caused this sharp decline in employment and how does the hon. minister explain it? I refer to Hansard of October 16 this year. Here, in reply to a question put 96698-101J

Unemployment Insurance Act by the member for Burnaby-Coquitlam, the minister says, and I quote:

Mr. Speaker, we are aware that there will be seasonal unemployment this winter. We have stepped up our winter program to take care of winter unemployment. We have also advised our national employment service offices to step up their tempo in obtaining jobs for people as soon as they become unemployed. I might say also, on behalf of the government, that we have curtailed for the balance of the year the influx of immigrants which swelled our total labour population. In addition we have channelled $150 million into our economy for the construction of houses. These are the things the government has done so far in order to cope with unemployment this winter.

How can the rise in unemployment be attributed to the usual seasonal decline? It has doubled within the year. Furthermore the minister assured us that the national employment bureau has been requested to find work for these men and women. I do not understand this, sir. Does the bureau now await the minister's order before it does the task it was set up to do? If jobs had been available surely the bureau could have filled them among the registered unemployed.

As far as the $150 million for the construction of houses is concerned, I would like to read what the president of l'Association des detaillants de bois du Quebec has to say about that. I quote:

( Translation):

Mr. Paul A. Durivage, of Montreal, will preside over this two day congress that will deal with several matters pertaining to the building industry. Ways and means will be sought to spur construction. For some months lumber dealers have been particularly concerned over the drastic slump in house building and delegates to the congress are planning representations to the federal government asking for other funds in addition to the $150,000,000 already made available.


Moreover, certainly none of those presently unemployed will be able to benefit from that if they had been planning to build. The applicant for such loans must be able to show an increase. Here and there, however, the construction workers may temporarily benefit.

Now, coming back to the cause of this problem of increasing unemployment I contend that uncertainty and fear resulting from the Mont Tremblant conference are powerful factors. Industry became uneasy, afraid of the free trade policy proposed, and started to reduce capital expansion. For example, the Aluminum Company of Canada has halted construction on two smelters at Kitimat with the subsequent lay-off of 1,000 men. I quote from an article which appeared in the Gazette on November 1 which says:

Aluminium Limited does not see much point in making a capital investment of $30 million creating productive capacity for which there will be no demand.

Unemployment Insurance Act

Slowdowns in the manufacturing of electrical appliances and clothing have also contributed to the increase in the numbers without work as have those in the Canadian textile industry. Not only is management becoming reluctant to take a chance on expansion it is also reducing stocks. But I venture to say that unemployment would not be so severe now if business and industry had the same sense of security that was given them by the Liberal administration. On several occasions since I have been in the house I spoke on the subject of employment especially on the employment of older workers. In my opinion there are three categories of unemployed. First, there are those who are out of work because of lay-offs. Second, there are those who are out of work because of age, that is those who are age 40 and over. Third, there are those forced to retire at the age of 65.

On April 17, 1951 I outlined in this house measures that I believed would help prevent discrimination in employment because of age. The present Minister of Labour will probably then ask, "Why was nothing done by the previous administration?" In reply to that question I would point out that it did seek the co-operation of management through its film "Date of Birth" but prejudice and pension schemes are not changed nor overcome easily. Today, against the background of ever-increasing unemployment, the matter is even more urgent. As I pointed out in January 1957, "It is the workers over 40 who suffer most when production methods change". It is this group which also suffers most during periods of unemployment but workers of all ages want security of employment.

According to a survey conducted by the institute of public opinion and reported in La Presse on November 20 this year, 87 per cent of those questioned preferred steady work to increased wages. That demand has resulted in some cases in what is known as the guaranteed annual wage. Together with the demand for steady work is the demand for opportunity to work. Again I say that this latter is more often denied to the man of 40 or older. Those aged 65 have no chance of competing in the labour market. In this connection I was glad to see that in its policy declarations and resolutions for 195758 the Canadian Chamber of Commerce referring to employment of older workers had this to say:

Population forecasts indicate that the proportion of older persons will be increasing. The problem of the older worker must be faced if we are constantly to raise our national product, not place an unfair burden on the employed population, and enable those older competent people who wish to do so to remain in productive and useful employment.

Studies have indicated that the older worker if properly placed can compare favourably in performance with other workers and can make a considerable contribution to the production of the country. Furthermore, the older worker group represents a reservoir of skill and experience that the country can ill afford to waste. The addition of older workers to our labour force would enlarge our productive capacity.

The chamber is of the view that Canadian employers should give full consideration to the desirability of employing older workers in suitable employment to the fullest extent practicable.

And notice especially its recommendation:

The chamber urges that Canadian employers recognize the skill and experience of older workers and give consideration to the suitable employment of this group to the fullest extent practicable.

Surely if the problem is now recognized by an influential national body such as the Canadian chamber of commerce it is time for government to take steps to solve it. Much information regarding this class of workers, their capacities and abilities can be obtained from a book called "The Golden Years" by Senator Desmond of New York State. The state of Massachusetts with its anti-discrimination board has almost abolished discrimination in employment practice. What that state has done, Canada can do.

I maintain that the government at this session should set up a committee to study the causes of the increase in unemployment, ways of checking unemployment and ways of preventing discrimination against both those aged 40-plus and those now automatically retired at age 65 without regard to their skills, health or efficiency. It is only after a study of these questions and the establishment of a vested pension plan such as I outlined in January 1957 that we shall be able to assure our older workers of employment and avert unemployment in the future.


Full View Permalink

January 10, 1957

Mr. Robert Cauchon (Beauharnois-Sala-berry):

Mr. Speaker, I wish first to congratulate the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona (Mr. Hanna) who has most ably moved the address in reply to the speech from the throne.


Also, Mr. Speaker, my sincere congratulations to the hon. member for Gloucester (Mr. Robichaud) for having carried out his task equally well when seconding the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

The Address-Mr. Cauchon

At the time of the great fire in the town of Salaberry of Valleyfield, on December 30, last, the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) sent a message of sympathy to the families who had lost their homes. On their behalf and also speaking for myself, I want to express our sincere appreciation to him. It is comforting to realize the spirit of good-will that is shown in such circumstances, for without the heroic efforts of our firemen and of those who volunteered to help in one way or another, our town would certainly have had to deplore a much larger misfortune.


As in speeches of former sessions, Mr. Speaker, the speech from the throne has expressed the Liberal government's policy of promoting social welfare and economic development and of effecting the continuance of the prosperity our country has enjoyed under the wise guidance of its capable Liberal leaders. An outstanding example of this guidance applied internationally was the plan submitted to the United Nations by the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) at a time when that body was, I would say, nearly paralysed by war in the Middle East and Hungary. As one Canadian newspaperman said, "This week Canadians at the United Nations in New York have good reason to be proud to be Canadians." Never, Mr. Speaker, was constructive leadership more needed than at that moment and the Secretary of State for External Affairs and his Canadian delegation gave that leadership.

Although the opposition may refuse to our administrators the credit so justly theirs, it cannot deny that Canada has had prosperity; nor can it deny that foresight, good administration and sound financing have resulted in unprecedented progress within the last two decades. What is more, steps have been taken to assure Canada's continued prosperity. Think, Mr. Speaker, of the two great projects now under way, one to give the west eastern markets for its great resources of natural gas, the other to develop the great hydro power resources of the east and at the same time to give the lakehead direct access to the Atlantic seaboard.

These gigantic undertakings, together with the ever increasing amity among Canadians of different national origins, have served to convince all Canadians that the Prime Minister (Mr. St'. Laurent) has done more to unite, both tangibly and intangibly, the people and the geographical units of this vast country than has any other Canadian. In the annals of of Canada I am sure he will be accorded that honour for all time.

In justice too, I must pay a well merited tribute to our Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) who has so skilfully led the house in its deliberations and the country through a time of dangerous inflationary trends. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) and other ministers have also, with courage and fortitude in the face of determined opposition, taken measures to assure Canada's economic development.

In this connection, Mr. Speaker, one immediately thinks of the Hon. Lionel Chevrier and the seaway authority. In April, 1951, I spoke to him of my constituency's interest in the work to be undertaken and voiced our objections to lift bridges at St. Louis de Gonzague, on Larocque road and at Meloche-ville where increasingly heavy traffic would be dangerously impeded. At that time he promised to study the matter and, Mr. Speaker, as a result I was pleased to be able to announce last year that we could be assured of a tunnel at Melocheville. I hope also to be able to announce that something will be done at the other two points. On behalf of my riding of Beauharnois-Salaberry I wish to thank the Hon. Mr. Chevrier and the Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler).

That part of Quebec which I have the honour to represent now has, as I have formerly intimated, unrivalled industrial sites. The tremendous combined navigation-power project now under construction together with power now available, a skilled reliable labour force, a productive countryside, almost unlimited water supplies and an excellent situation in respect to markets should be most attractive both to light and heavy industries seeking new sites or working out plans for decentralization.

My foregoing remarks were preliminary to the introduction of a subject that has been of sincere concern to me for some years, that is, the practice of discrimination against the older but employable worker. Though I have no intention of reiterating the facts I presented in 1951, I feel it my duty to say that this discrimination continues and seeks justification for the same reasons as then. Proof of my assertion may be found in the advertisements of our daily newspapers.

We must concede that evolution of a population through the complex stages of its economic development and the continuing industrial revolution with the resultant increase in automation give rise to many difficult problems, but problems nonetheless necessary of resolution.

Then too we must accept the idea that a nation's progress depends upon (1) higher production with a corresponding rise in living standards for all and (2) new outlets for the

investment capital which provides new jobs and skills not only for the young but for those still employable who have been thrown out of work by changed production methods or similar causes.

All workers should and must share equally in job opportunities created by our present economic growth. Canada's citizens, even those 41 to 60, should have equal opportunities in its labour markets; that is, of course, if age is not a bona fide occupational limitation. Both government and private enterprise, therefore, have the task of anticipating and resolving problems arising from this continuing evolution, especially problems pertaining to the unemployment of any section of Canadian labour.

Because I have kept myself well informed regarding the employment situation in my own industrial community, it is clear to me that workers over 40 are most frequently the sufferers when production methods change. Consequently I have followed closely the attempts of various governments to check discrimination because of age. Recently I have read "New Channels for the Golden Years", a document issued by the New York state joint legislative committee on problems of the aging, under the chairmanship of Senator Thomas Desmond. Among the recommendations made on page 7 of the report there are two of particular interest. They are:

That the state encourage industry to establish vested pension plans and move in that direction itself in connection with the state retirement system.

That the state recognize the greater difficulty older persons have in finding jobs by providing an unemployment insurance differential for those over 40.

On page 10 the advantages of a vested pension plan are thus described:

Our committee believes that vested pension plans hold forth promise of

(a) increasing likelihood of employers hiring workers at ages 55, 60 and over;

(b) preventing indigency in later life resulting from workers changing employment in firms which grant pensions only after lengthy service;

(c) reducing pressure on government to take drastic action such as adopting an old age pension act.

The British national advisory committee on employment of older men and women after studying the problem also has emphasized the need of "preserving pension rights on change of employment." The committee later in the report makes a recommendation that the state expand its anti-discrimination law to include age, as does that of the state of Massachusetts. Moreover, the following recommendation is also made as found on page 23 of the same report:

To give further emphasis to our belief that the state should move to end discriminatory practices

The Address-Mr. Cauchon

in employment of the 40-plus, we recommend:

That the state should bar any company from bidding on state construction, equipment, service or other contracts if it discriminates against the 40-plus;

The burden and stigma placed on our free enterprise system by the crude, raw, unscientific policy of banning the employment of the 40-plus by modern industry, particularly big industries, and especially new industries, warrants society, through its elective officials, in taking steps effectively to prevent such personnel policies.

To the contention, "But it costs industry more money to hire the 40-plus", we reply, "These are costs industry and society must bear".

If the cost of employment of the 40-plus is increased prices, we need to add that to our costs, just as we have added to the cost of production the cost of sanitary, safe factories, social security taxes, shorter work week.

However, we have seen no evidence that hiring the 40-plus will increase the cost of production. We have seen figures indicating that workmen's compensation costs rise, but these have been disproved.

We have seen figures that group insurance costs rise, but these do not appear significant.

We have seen figures that pension costs rise when the 40-plus are hired, but we have not seen them balanced against any compensating figures reflecting lower absenteeism, the greater loyalty, the greater stability, the lower turnover rate, the increased know-how of the older worker.

Nor have we seen what the cost to industry would be if vested pensions were adopted so that the employer hiring a man at 55 would not have to feel he had to provide "a suitable pension" for him at 65, but only a 10-year pension.

I was also interested to see by the 1955 report of the International Labour Organization that the state of Massachusetts had almost eliminated all discrimination in employment practices, including that against age.

In order to learn more about the Massachusetts law I went to Boston last spring to gather at first hand information from the officers of the commission.

It might be well at this point to summarize briefly the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practice Act and its amendment, sponsored by the American Federation of Labour, to include age. Age is defined as being between 45 and 65.

Every employer, employment agency and labour union subject to the provisions of the law must post it conspicuously on its premises. Those not subject are employers with fewer than six persons, clubs, et cetera not organized for private profit, domestic servants, and those employed in family businesses. The law reads as follows:

No person shall be denied the right to work because of race, colour, religious creed, national origin, age or ancestry.

In respect to age, it is illegal for employers or employment agencies to: (1) ask questions before employment which directly or indirectly disclose age; (2) to print or circulate advertisements which directly or indirectly

The Address-Mr. Cauchon specify limitation because of age, unless that limitation is based upon a bona fide occupational qualification; (3) in case of employers to discharge or refuse to hire an individual because of age; (4) to act unfairly against an individual in matters relating to compensation, terms of employment et cetera because of age.

Labour organizations and groups of employees are forbidden to exclude from membership or to resist employment of such persons.

Moreover-and this is important-the law hag been interpreted to apply even if a company had, prior to its passing, adopted a retirement or pension plan calling for the retirement of persons between those ages, 45-65.

The commission seeks to gain compliance with the law by means of conference, conciliation and persuasion. A commissioner is assigned to investigate each complaint. Only once has a public hearing of a case been necessary. Public acceptance of the law has been due principally to the educational program initiated by the commission which arranges conferences with groups affected in various communities. In addition, surveys of the industrial communities are made by small committees of their own citizens, serving without remuneration. These acquaint the commission with problems peculiar to each locality. The surveys also tend to arouse interest and to enlist the co-operation of those affected by the law.

Here, Mr. Speaker, I might say that Pennsylvania has also enacted a similar statute.

As a result of my study of this question, I would make the following recommendations:

1. That the Department of Labour should begin a study of the Massachusetts commission against discrimination with a view to setting up a similar commission in Canada.

2. That the department should also consider amending the national Unemployment Insurance Act to enable the worker to change employment without loss of his rights in a pension plan.

Possibly pension stamps could be affixed to the workers' unemployment insurance books together with the unemployment insurance stamps. Whatever system is adopted, it should effectively protect the senior members of our society from discrimination and assure them of pension upon their retirement.

We cannot permit industry to make a unilateral decision to oust or to exclude middle-aged workers from jobs. Jobs can, in some cases, be adapted to the workers; in others, the workers can be trained for new jobs.

It is the inherent duty of each Canadian to discharge the responsibilities of citizenship.

It is equally the right of each Canadian to contribute to and share in his country's progress and prosperity. I believe it is industry's and government's joint responsibility, in recognition of the innate dignity of the human soul, to provide employment for each worker during the years he is employable and to assure him of a pension sufficient to free him from want in his old age.

Full View Permalink

June 14, 1956

Mr. Cauchon:

By parliament.

Subtopic:   PIPE LINES
Full View Permalink

November 24, 1953

Mr. Robert Cauchon (Beauharnois-Salaberry):

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I pay my tribute to the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges (Mr. Beaudoin) on his election to the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. All have unanimously recognized his experience and great ability in parliamentary procedure. It is with great satisfaction, Mr. Speaker, that, on behalf of the people of Beauharnois-Salaberry whom I have the honour to represent in this house, I extend to you our most sincere congratulations and offer our most complete co-operation.


Before speaking today on a subject of great importance to my constituency of Beau-harnois-Salaberry, I wish to extend my congratulations to the hon. member for York Centre (Mr. Hollingworth), who so ably moved the address in reply to the speech from the throne-


-and also to the hon. member for Roberval (Mr. Villeneuve) the seconder, who so ably fulfilled his task.


The case I am going to present tonight, Mr. Speaker, is that of the textile industry in Canada, more particularly because it affects the peace of mind and well-being of workers in my own riding. If I did not present that case I would be neglecting my duty to those whose confidence enables me to be here today.

Valleyfield is an industrial city of about 23,000 and has a silk mill, a branch factory of Duplan, which is a United States company manufacturing synthetic fibres, and also the Montreal Cottons plant, now a subsidiary of Dominion Textiles. In 1943 these plants employed 3,921 workers, and they now employ only 1,654. I do not feel that I am taking the time or taxing the patience of the house with what is purely a local problem. It goes far beyond that. Possibly it does affect Ontario and Quebec more than other provinces; but we must not forget that in every province there is a textile industry. The total labour force thus employed is about 90,000, and I

should say this is a number not to be disregarded, in view of our population.

The annual total production of that industry is about $800 million, or approximately a million dollars more than the average annual value of our wheat crop.

The basic requirements of some branches of that industry are coal, air, water, trees; even com, feathers, egg albumen, milk and meat scraps. All these are or can be used in making certain synthetic fibres such as nylon, orlon, and others not so well known.

These raw materials are available in Canada; certain of them would otherwise be wasted. Then, too, we have power, coal, hydro, oil, gas, the necessary transportation facilities, and an industry alert to its responsibility to produce up-to-date quality fabrics. And we must not forget that we also have a skilled, conscientious textile labour force.

In spite of these favourable conditions I learn from Mr. King's editorial in the Canadian Textile Journal, of November 6, 1953, that the Canadian textile industry does not have as much of the domestic market as it should. I quote:

The cotton yarn and cloth industry has not much more than 50 per cent of its home market; the wool textile industry has not much more than 60 per cent and synthetic textiles about 75 per cent.

Some economists contend that Canada should have no cotton industry because she does not produce the basic raw material. I do not agree. We must, moreover, face the fact that we do have a cotton industry and that it and its workers have served this country well both in war and in peace. During wartime we were virtually cut off from foreign textiles, but our domestic industry supplied the civilian needs and those of the armed forces, including 400 million pounds of military cotton goods, silk and nylon for parachutes, blankets and many, many other products, down to shoe laces.

Then, too, it supplied the demands for insulation in electrical appliances, fibres used in tires and in brake linings, sports equipment and household goods, such as rugs and oilcloth. And do not forget that this was at a time when United States dollars were most needed.

Let us glance now for a moment at recent trends in this industry. From 1935 to 1939, 73 per cent of the Canadian civilian fabric requirements in cotton, nylon, rayon and wool was supplied by Canada. From 1943 to 1949, 61 per cent was so supplied; in 1950, 68 per cent; in 1951, 66 per cent; in 1952, 55 per cent, and in 1953 an estimated 51 per cent. These figures were compiled by the primary textiles institute.

Can this trend be allowed to continue? From statistics presented by Duplan, and applying to synthetic fibres, I learn that though in 1950 only 10 per cent of Canadian needs was supplied by the United States, today 27 per cent comes from that country. What does this mean weekly in terms of lost working hours? Well over two and a half million.

After a careful study of these figures, and evidence obtained in my home city, I have come to the conclusion that it is with reason that the textile industry complains1 of the dumping of United States goods. Though it is true that the rise in the value of our dollar in relation to the United States dollar did have the effect of lowering our tariff, that could not in itself account for the present depression in the Canadian textile industry.

We must not forget that the cost of American mass-produced goods for a mass market is always below the cost of goods produced in Canada for a small domestic market. The textile industry aided by tariffs has been able, until recently, to meet this competition. When, in addition to this advantage, United States manufacturers by selling below cost an exceedingly small volume of end of the run or off-season goods at home can throw the remaining large volume on Canadian markets, then our industry faces too great odds, and Canadian labour suffers.

How can the textile industry meet this competition? Would anyone in this house suggest that workers' wages be reduced? If so he is unfamiliar with living costs in urban centres. Though I feel very strongly on this question, I shall take time only to point out that to lower wages is at the same time to lower purchasing power.

Remember that this purchasing power of the textile workers supports Canada's other industries, and supports them steadily, not being subject to changes in tariff rates or the interpretation of existing tariffs. Certainly the United States is most conscious of this fact. She always has been, and I can see little likelihood of her changing her policy. The closing of United States branch factories in Canada will hardly influence her to change.

One might say the crisis could be met by reducing dividends. I am not in favour of excessively high dividends at the expense of wages, but can I or anyone else expect that capital will be invested to improve or expand established industries, or develop new ones, unless capital is assured of fair returns? That method, too, would reduce the purchasing power of Canadians.

The Address-Mr. Cauchon

Another way is for the Canadian textile industry to take measures to reduce costs and improve quality, the best way of meeting competition. Can it thus work out its own salvation, and has it tried to do so? It has, we know, kept up with many changes such as swinging to rayon, celanese, nylon and blends. In Valleyfield, Montreal Cottons has spent more than four and a half millions since 1946 in buying new looms, spinning frames, winders and other machinery designed to lower costs and improve quality. It is interesting to note that from 1950 to 1953 the company has lowered prices on all its goods by more than the drop in the price in raw cotton during that period. For instance, broadcloth "A", the largest single item produced, dropped from 52J cents per yard in 1950 to 39 cents in 1953. The company can produce a million yards of cotton per week; it now actually produces 450,000 yards. Established in 1877, it is now one of the largest mills of its kind and makes rayon as well as cotton. It would then appear that this industry is doing its part to meet the challenge, but in spite of its efforts workers have been laid off and their take-home pay severely reduced.

Finally we could re-examine GATT. I am proud that our government has honoured its obligations under this agreement, but I am not sure that all the signatories have adhered as closely to its spirit. The United States is probably justified in its stand on free trade, a stand which means free trade as long as it does not affect the United States labour market. Pressure by United States manufacturing and commercial interests has kept that country strongly protectionist, which is its right. Although we are not strongly protectionist, in the light of the present situation and the possibility of quotas and restrictions on our primary products entering the United States, surely it is our right to protect our industry and workers from unfair competition. By unfair competition I refer to the loophole in GATT which permits goods to enter our markets at sacrifice prices because United States manufacturers have a surplus stock.

Personally I believe such action to be the answer to the problem. In 1950 the United States imposed a tariff of 30 per cent on a certain type and quality of fabrics; the United Kingdom had a tariff of 27 per cent and Canada, 17 per cent. By 1952 our imports rose by about 45 million yards and Canadian production dropped by about 86 million yards.

Just what has that meant to my constituency? There is located in Valleyfield one of the oldest cotton factories in Canada. Its workers, and those of the other two plants in


The Address-Mr. Winch the city, are now faced with lay-offs, a sharp reduction in hours, small take-home pay and little chance of employment elsewhere. What are they to do? Unfortunately we have no new industries to take up the surplus labour, nor is it easy for workers trained in the making of textiles to adapt themselves to other kinds of labour. They know their jobs and do them well, but they have little chance to acquire other skills.

They can draw unemployment insurance and in some cases would be better off financially to be drawing this insurance, for it would amount to more than their pay for the same period. In 1953 the wages paid will be over $500,000 less than the wages paid in 1950, and this in spite of an average hourly wage increase of 33-3 per cent. I would remind you that in 1950 this company paid Canada $1,343,408.32 in income tax; in 1952 it paid no income tax. I have a letter from the Duplan company dated November 23, 1953 which states:

At the present time, we are running on a very much curtailed basis and if forced to continue to operate on the same basis, our payroll for the next twelve months would only be approximately $200,000 or about 55 per cent of our 1951-52 average.

You can understand my concern for those employed by the textile factories in the constituency which I represent. But because the Liberal government has always protected the welfare of the workers and has been responsible for much of the labour legislation which benefits them, I am confident that it will not delay in taking what action is necessary to relieve the present distress of Canada's textile workers.

Full View Permalink

June 10, 1952

Mr. Robert Cauchon (Beauharnois):

Mr. Speaker, on April 17, 1951, I considered it advisable to draw to the attention of the house the unhappy lot of the older worker when he is faced with the necessity of seeking employment.

Certainly now, as then, officials of the unemployment insurance commission must be aware of the gravity of this problem. To the best of my knowledge, however, no further steps have been taken by the unemployment insurance commission to alleviate the financial worry and mental distress which haunts these Canadian workers.

At the time the matter was not as urgent as it now is, in the light of our immigration policy-which, understandably, tends to give preference to younger immigrants-and of recent unemployment statistics.

I feel strongly that the unemployment insurance commission has a duty to our ageing Canadian workers, the duty of directing them info new fields of employment or, if need be, of training them in skills suitable to their aptitudes and age.

Though the commission has done nothing in that matter it has not been reluctant to adopt a new policy in respect to appeals. Without, I am certain, consulting the minister it has adopted a policy surely not designed to promote the best interests of those whose welfare it was set up to serve. I am speaking particularly of those of the unemployed who wish to appeal the decisions of the unemployment insurance commission.

Unemployment Insurance Act

No longer are these appeals heard in their local courts of referees. An appellant in my constituency must travel to Montreal. Do the gentlemen responsible for this reversal of policy not realize the financial hardship it imposes? Being without a job, the labourer cannot afford the expense of his fare, his meals and transportation costs within the city, all in addition to the expenses of his witnesses. He may then find that his case is delayed and that he will perhaps have to make another trip. Under such conditions, and a natural fear of becoming involved in legal "red tape", he may forgo his right of appeal.

Upon inquiry, I have found that the principal arguments advanced in support of the policy are as follows:

1. Certain courts of referees are not qualified. Does that mean that the entire system is bad, that we should scrap it? I contend that it does not, that there are many quite capable of handling the cases brought before them. No system is perfect; certainly not the one which is now being put into effect.

2. Decisions of many boards are unwise and, consequently, costly. If that be true, the commission would be better advised to appoint competent men. The responsibility is theirs.

3. The costs of appeals heard in Montreal are lower than the costs of appeals heard in local courts of referees. This, the commission contends, is due to the longer time taken by the local courts and to the fewer cases tried. The cost of each case is thus proportionally higher.

If this argument be valid, let us adopt the same principle in the administration of justice. Imagine, if you can, accused, plaintiffs, defendants, their lawyers and innumerable witnesses, all trekking to Montreal from St. Hyacinthe, Joliette, Drummondville or St. Jean, or those from the towns and villages of the Gaspe travelling to Quebec city. Obviously, this is in the best interests of economy, but is it in the best interests of justice?

Our system of justice I am proud to say ranks second to none, and I speak from my twenty years' experience as a court reporter in the province of Quebec. This is also true in the nine other provinces. As for the judges, for them I have only praise. They fulfil their duties conscientiously and well, without for a moment forgetting their responsibility and privilege, the responsibility and privilege of guarding the rights of the individual. Indeed, it is fortunate that the judges throughout Canada do not administer justice as the unemployment insurance commission now seeks to administer it, that is,

Full View Permalink