Humphrey MITCHELL

MITCHELL, The Hon. Humphrey, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Welland (Ontario)
Birth Date
September 9, 1894
Deceased Date
August 1, 1950
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humphrey_Mitchell
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=48fe0415-1454-43d8-a242-1562dedacc97&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
machine operator, union officer

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1931 - August 14, 1935
LAB
  Hamilton East (Ontario)
February 9, 1942 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (December 15, 1941 - November 15, 1948)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (December 15, 1941 - November 15, 1948)
  • Minister of Labour (November 15, 1948 - August 1, 1950)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (November 15, 1948 - August 1, 1950)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1246 of 1247)


March 3, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

Somebody has said,

"hear, hear." I do not think this subject presents very much to smile about, or any-

Public Service-Salary Deduction

thing upon which one might exclaim "hear, hear." These people are placed in the position that, through circumstances over which they have no control they have to deprive themselves of very necessary dental and medical treatment for their families.

Mr. SPOTTO'N: When I said "hear, hear" my hon. friend was speaking of doctors and dentists. Don't wiggle.

Topic:   THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   PROPOSED DEDUCTION OF TEN PER CENT IN INDEMNITIES AND SALARIES
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March 3, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

You do not look as

though you needed a cut in wages. We may find as a logical consequence of these reductions that the health of civil servants' children will suffer.

Topic:   THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   PROPOSED DEDUCTION OF TEN PER CENT IN INDEMNITIES AND SALARIES
Full View Permalink

March 3, 1932

Mr. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (East Hamilton):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with

rapt attention to the words of wisdom of the hon. member for Lanark (Mr. Thompson). It must be clearly understood that those who live in the cities of this dominion are not responsible for the industrial system under which they live. That system was brought into being by men whose chief motive was profit, and in a period of depression such as that through which we are passing, it is only natural in the sequence of events that those unfortuate individuals should suffer until such time as the government of this country assume the responsibility which is theirs towards the men and women who find themselves in their present situation under circumstances over which they have no control.

I know of nothing easier than to get up in a deliberate assembly such as this and suggest that the men and women who spend their lives working in the factories of this dominion should go into the vacant wastes of northern Ontario and, without any previous experience, without any capital and, in many instances, suffering from malnutrition, carve out a livelihood there for themselves. For many years organized labour, through the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, has made suggestions to the federal government along the same lines as those made by the hon. member for Lanark this evening. I trust that he will use his influence with the government of the day to see that such a policy is put into effect and carried out, so that those men who are fitted for a life on the farm can leave our cities, thus lessening the acute situation brought about by unemployment, and at least earn their sustenance on the lands of this country. I readily understand the position in which the farmers of the country find themselves. The first urge of life is to secure food, clothing and shelter, yet many thousands of the industrial workers in our cities are not in a position to obtain the necessaries of life in such measure as to ensure for themselves, and consequently for future Canadians, full bodily health and strength. I say this from my experience as a member of the hospital board in the city

Public Service-Salary Deduction

from which I come and a member for some years of the board of health of that city, where thousands of undernourished children pass through these two organizations.

Topic:   THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   PROPOSED DEDUCTION OF TEN PER CENT IN INDEMNITIES AND SALARIES
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March 3, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

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
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March 3, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

I will come to that in

a moment. Many of these civil servants are living in modern industrial and commercial cities; they are trying to get along on a thousand dollars or less per annum, endeavouring to bring up families. The hon. member who has asked that question will readily understand what bearing my remarks have on the question before us. The civil servants were not responsible for the condition that exists to-day. Had the government not made the twenty per cent discount in income taxation last year they would have been in a better position to-day, and this proposed reduction in salaries could have been largely avoided. From our experience, we of the labour movement know that every reduction in wages merely intensifies the present condition; it reflects itself in business, in industry and in agriculture, in the reduced consuming power of the people affected.

We have a paradox to-day in this, that the governments of this country are lowering the standard of living of their employees on the one hand, while on the other hand they are guaranteeing to the moneylenders increased returns on the money they borrow. The ramifications of this policy are felt far and wide. After all, what is the collateral of the money which is lent to the government of the country? It is the earning power of the men and women employed in industry and agriculture; and when the government in the midst of intense industrial depression offers to the moneylenders of the country rates of interest of five per cent and over in connection, for example, with the recent national service loan, the natural consequence is that when the provinces go to the country for money their interest rates are raised. The province of Ontario recently floated a loan bearing interest at the rate of over six per cent, and it was snapped up within three hours of the time it was issued. And why not? What better security can you have than the government of that province if you have the money to lend? But what chance have the municipalities to borrow money at lower rates than are offered by the provincial or the federal government? The cities throughout the dominion, those that can borrow money, are forced to pay more than the provinces or the federal government.

Then we come to the most important factor of all-the wage earners of the country who are trying to buy their own homes. These people are carrying mortgages at the present time at probably six per cent or a little better. What chance have they, in these circumstances, of renewing those mortgages at such figures? It is obvious that the security of the workingman's home or farm is not considered such a sound security as government bonds, and what is to become of these people? I predict that thousands of workingmen and women will lose their homes in the next twelve months or two years, and thousands of farmers their farms, and so the whole thing is being pyramided

At the last session of parliament an order in council was passed by the federal government dealing with unemployment relief, and there appeared in it the following provision:

Unless a modification of this requirement is previously agreed to by the minister, the provincial or municipal authorities may fix rates of wages to be paid, provided that such rates be fair and reasonable and not in excess of the rates required to be paid by the federal government for the character or class of work in the district.

Now, if it is logical for the parliament of Canada to fix a maximum rate of wages for human labour, is it not just as logical in the interests of the country, in a national emergency, to fix maximum rates of interest demanded by the bondholders of Canada? You cannot make the man on the street believe that if increased demands on lenders is not made this country of ours will be ruined. We have to remember that the reduction in wages hits a body of workers in this country who in many instances have no means of defending themselves. Cutting the salaries of civil servants is like throwing a stone in the water from which the ripples pass on to places beyond the human eye. Naturally these servants live right up to their incomes because, in the majority of cases, the incomes do not permit of any other course. In this debate we have heard the suggestion many times that the people should save. When one surveys the wages paid the civil servants in this dominion one might conclude that in the great majority of cases it would be economically impossible to save very much. The effect of the cut will be that food will be cut down, doctors will lose, and dentists will lose.

Topic:   THE PUBLIC SERVICE
Subtopic:   PROPOSED DEDUCTION OF TEN PER CENT IN INDEMNITIES AND SALARIES
Full View Permalink