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.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY