I do not intend to suggest what certain selfish manufacturing interests would do under present conditions, but I believe it is the duty of this government, and of every provincial and municipal government, to see that none of their employees works under salary scales below the minimum standard of civilized communities. I think my position is sound, and it is backed by the labour movement of Canada.
Another angle of the problem presents itself. While I freely admit .that the price of food has declined, yet the major items in the ordinary family budget of one who lives in a city are coal, rent, insurance and other uncontrollable expenditures. In those items there has been very little reduction. We will see, therefore, that if any reduction is to be made in the family budget it will -have to be made on account of the reduction in food prices. Some hon. members have spoken about the judges. I am not -a lawyer, but I do not know of any British institution which does not control its own destiny. If the government of the day so desired, undoubtedly judges' salaries -could be cut; there is no question about that.
Then, we consider the man who enjoys a large salary. In -contrast we find the lower salaried employee who has to cut down his living budget to feed his family. Opposed to that we have the man who receives $10,000 a year who may have to curtail a few luxuries, and may not be able to make so many investments or put so much money in the bank, but whose real standard of living, so far as the provision of food for himself and his family is concerned, irrespective of this cut, will remain unimpaired.
Being a trade unionist of many years standing, and having passed through the struggle for the adoption of the principle of collective bargaining, I know of no reason why the government of the day should not have taken the same action as any other corporation or organization wishing to make savings. The labour people of Canada look with amazement at the present attitude of the government. This cut was made in a spirit of take-it-or-leave-it; the decision was taken without any regard for living conditions or salaries earned by the employees concerned. We believe that the government at least should have reflected the spirit of its own Labour department and referred the matter to a -board of arbitration or conciliation, thereby permitting 'the various organizations of civil servants at least to endeavour to defend their own membership.
In conclusion, I think it is -the general opinion of all hon. members that no person during the course of this depression should suffer want, whether he be engaged in agriculture, business, the professions, or industry.
I know of no better way to ensure this condition than that the rate of income tax from those receiving, we will say, $150 a month and up, be on a -graduated scale to supply funds to help maintain those who, through no fault of their own, to-day find themselves unemployed.
Topic: THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic: PROPOSED DEDUCTION OF TEN PER CENT IN INDEMNITIES AND SALARIES