Walter George PITMAN

PITMAN, Walter George, O.C., O.Ont., B.A., M.A., LL.D.

Parliamentary Career

October 31, 1960 - August 2, 1961
NEW
  Peterborough (Ontario)
August 3, 1961 - April 19, 1962
NDP
  Peterborough (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 89 of 90)


December 2, 1960

Mr. Walter Pitman (Peterborough):

Mr. Speaker, this group has put forward an amendment-

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONTINUANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS
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December 2, 1960

Mr. Pitman:

Mr. Chairman, as a new member I hesitate to inflict myself on the committee twice in one day but I did want to congratulate the Minister of Labour on bringing this resolution before the committee and to express my earnest hope that it will be introduced as legislation in the very near future.

I rise on this question because I am particularly interested in the area of education. Until only four or five weeks ago I was taking part in education on a full-time scale in another place. Possibly some hon. members would prefer it if I were still doing so.

If this measure is to come up to the expectations of the people of Canada and merit the congratulations of those who sit in this corner of the chamber I think it must fulfil four very important requirements. It must be a dynamic and all-inclusive attempt to meet the needs of every community in these two areas, the training of the unemployed and the training of our young people to meet the demands of this new technological age.

Vocational Training

Second, this proposed legislation surely must be completely adaptable to every community in this nation so that every community will be able to apply to a provincial legislature and take advantage of this measure.

Third, I hope this will be a first step toward a whole new concept of the responsibility of the federal government in the education and training of our youth.

Finally, I hope this will be a part of a new approach to our whole economy for if this proposed legislation is to be effective it must relate itself to a planned, integrated economy.

Unfortunately in the past the whole program of training the unemployed has been most inadequate. Reference has already been made to the Vocational Training Co-Ordination Act passed in 1952 and amended in 1954. As originally envisaged the act was to enable the minister to undertake projects to provide vocational training to fit unemployed persons for gainful employment. In 1954 it was amended to include a provision designed to fit persons for employment for any purpose in the national interest within the legislative authority of the parliament of Canada and approved by the governor in council.

I am not blaming the federal government for the inadequate situation that has obtained in this respect. As I understand it, in many cases the provinces did not even take advantage of the grants that were available. However, across Canada between April, 1958 and March, 1959 there were only 3,568 people trained. I think there were more unemployed in my own constituency last winter than were trained under this program in the whole of Canada. Federal assistance applied for by the provinces in this respect amounted to only $510,479.99.

In a country in which unemployment is a very serious problem surely that is not the scale on which this problem must be met. In Ontario, between April, 1958 and March 31, 1959 there were 94 men and 32 women who were re-trained. I suggest that this problem will not be solved on that scale. The report of the director of Canadian vocational training indicated that the number asking for assistance was not as large as expected. And yet what was the need?

A pamphlet put out by the Department of Labour on the training of skilled manpower admitted that training facilities in Canada were failing to keep pace with the requirement for manpower and that we were importing skilled labour from the United Kingdom and Europe. A winter research program was undertaken to discover the level of ability and training in several areas. It was found, for example, in relation to tool and

diemakers that only 8.5 per cent of Canadian tradesmen in this field had received secondary education in appropriate technical training whereas 46 per cent of non-Canadian tool and diemakers had received adequate training in this trade. That is a commentary upon vocational training throughout this nation as it takes place in the provinces.

If this program is to have a sufficient impact to be of any use in the twentieth century it must be undertaken on a scale that will make everything we have done before look absolutely ridiculous. It is significant that in my own riding of Peterborough we have a general union of unemployed workers. I hope this union will not grow very much stronger but if the situation worsens it may well become the largest union in the riding.

These men have done more than whine about their situation. They are in a serious plight. While perhaps they are not dropping in the streets they are nevertheless suffering mentally and spiritually. Rather than whine about their plight they have taken positive steps through every level of government to provide this kind of training for their members through the hard winter. It is only through re-training that the unemployed will solve their problems when they feel that once again they can make a useful contribution to the community where they live. It is not a matter of accepting a dole. They do not want unemployment insurance. What they want is to return, so to speak, to Canadian society in a useful, vital capacity. I hope this resolution will help these people.

It is important that this program be adaptable to each community. Technical institutions cannot be built in some communities which are too small to support them. I hope this resolution will provide grants whereby these areas may perhaps use the money to provide for their unemployed transportation to some other centre where there is a technical institution that can provide the type of training these people need. I hope it will provide grants not just for buildings but for areas which have buildings which may be used. I suggest vocational schools which might be used from four o'clock in the afternoon until seven or eight o'clock at night. I hope it may possibly provide money for teaching and also for the maintenance of equipment in a great many areas where people could be trained adequately and on the basis of what is possible in the community in which those unemployed people live. It is possible that there will be need to provide assistance to men so that they can take those courses and not mean a hardship to their wives and families when they are actually taking part

in the course. I hope that the legislation will be not only dynamic and all-inclusive, but that it will also be adaptable.

I hope it will provide a new motivation for vocational training. I think that unfortunately we in Canada have never come to acquire the kind of feeling which people in European countries and the United Kingdom have for their crafts. I think we need to motivate people in the direction of vocational training, and instil in them a pride in vocational training. Too often vocational training has become a kind of second rate education. It has been suggested that a vocational school is a dumping ground for the less gifted. I think this has brought vocational training into disrepute in many communities of this nation. I hope that through this legislation vocational training will reach new heights of acceptability by the people of the provinces of this country.

I think we desperately need technicians. We must forget the idea that a technician is a second grade engineer, or an engineer that did not make good. As the hon. member suggested, too often we have people with engineering degrees doing jobs which could be done by technicians. This is an area where the Soviet union has completely surpassed us in education. This is an area where we must catch up. Particularly I hope that this is going to be a step toward a whole new concept as to what the federal government must do through grants, not to control all education but without endangering the autonomy of the provinces to provide assistance to education and training on a scale that will allow every person in this country to attain the height of achievement of which he is capable.

It has been suggested by the dominion bureau of statistics that over the next number of years we will need ten major universities in this country, not all centred in the larger communities but some also in smaller communities. I think one of the unfortunate aspects is that our university education is centred in the large metropolitan areas. In an area like my own, Peterborough, we have people who are desperately trying to set up a junior college. They need help.

This is also a whole new step toward the opening up of a whole new vista of federal assistance and motivation in the area of education because if we wish to make our educational system as good as it must be in the latter part of the twentieth century we need not only technicians and craftsmen but also economists, historians, philosophers and theologians. We need these as well. Let us not provide technicians and discover that the whole meaning of our western civilization has

Vocational Training

disappeared because we forgot that vocational training was only a part of our educational process.

Finally, it must be integrated somehow into a planned economy, and here again I hope, as the hon. member suggested, that the productivity council will come into play.

I wish the hon. member for Bow River were in his seat because I should like to answer the questions he asked a few nights ago when he inquired about the position of the new party in relation to socialism and free enterprise. I would suggest that we have stopped fighting the issue of socialism with a capital "S" and free enterprise with capitals "F" and "E". I am sure the hon. member realizes we live in a mixed economy and that the new party believes that the public sector as well as the private sector has rights, duties and responsibilities.

I was a little bit surprised at his method of attack by reading the words of leaders in this house some 30 years ago. I do not think there is any form of argument that is more historically suspect and academically unacceptable than wrenching from context words uttered 30 years ago.

Topic:   I960
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December 2, 1960

Mr. Pitman:

-not to delay this legislation. My remarks will be brief and I hope, unemotional. However, at this point I would like to state the differences which exist between this group and the other parties in this house.

We believe, as do the other parties, that there should be no railway strike. We do not believe there should be any compulsion on workers to work at a wage level which has been found unacceptable by all standards and which would be unacceptable to any fair-minded Canadian. We do not believe that workers should be prepared to compromise themselves and compromise their fellow workers by doing so.

On the other hand, we do not believe that we in this house should legislate to the effect that management should pay, either. I think the Minister of Labour and the Prime Minister made a very good point when they suggested that there might be a time in the future when the house would be faced with similar legislation when the unions will have refused to accept a majority report of a conciliation board. On the other hand, I also accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition

that he does not wish for an arbitrary solution. He believes there should be free play as between workers and management.

However, we believe that when parliament has to legislate in a situation such as this, neither labour nor management should be put at a disadvantage. That is why this group believe that if there is a national emergency the people of this nation would be willing to allow a favourable atmosphere to occur, an atmosphere in which neither management nor labour would be at a disadvantage. Here again, I think the former minister of transport had a good point when he called attention to the fact that this was an unusual situation because freight rates are frozen. By May 15 freight rates will be unfrozen and the royal commission report will have come down. At that time I am sure there will be a favourable atmosphere, because the workers will not be at a disadvantage and neither will management because they are not being obliged, through legislation, to pay higher wages.

I think this is the basis upon which a statesmanlike decision can be achieved. I think this is the basis upon which the citizens of Canada would be prepared to accept a subsidy until May 15 which, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, would amount to very little. On this basis I believe a change of atmosphere could occur immediately, a change which would bring together labour and management, and allow them to continue negotiations and, perhaps more than anything else, find a standard which would be acceptable and reasonable for the nonoperative railway workers, one which would be much higher than that suggested in the majority report of the conciliation board.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR CONTINUANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS
Full View Permalink

December 2, 1960

Mr. Pitman:

-not to delay this legislation. My remarks will be brief and I hope, unemotional. However, at this point I would like to state the differences which exist between this group and the other parties in this house.

We believe, as do the other parties, that there should be no railway strike. We do not believe there should be any compulsion on workers to work at a wage level which has been found unacceptable by all standards and which would be unacceptable to any fair-minded Canadian. We do not believe that workers should be prepared to compromise themselves and compromise their fellow workers by doing so.

On the other hand, we do not believe that we in this house should legislate to the effect that management should pay, either. I think the Minister of Labour and the Prime Minister made a very good point when they suggested that there might be a time in the future when the house would be faced with similar legislation when the unions will have refused to accept a majority report of a conciliation board. On the other hand, I also accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition

that he does not wish for an arbitrary solution. He believes there should be free play as between workers and management.

However, we believe that when parliament has to legislate in a situation such as this, neither labour nor management should be put at a disadvantage. That is why this group believe that if there is a national emergency the people of this nation would be willing to allow a favourable atmosphere to occur, an atmosphere in which neither management nor labour would be at a disadvantage. Here again, I think the former minister of transport had a good point when he called attention to the fact that this was an unusual situation because freight rates are frozen. By May 15 freight rates will be unfrozen and the royal commission report will have come down. At that time I am sure there will be a favourable atmosphere, because the workers will not be at a disadvantage and neither will management because they are not being obliged, through legislation, to pay higher wages.

I think this is the basis upon which a statesmanlike decision can be achieved. I think this is the basis upon which the citizens of Canada would be prepared to accept a subsidy until May 15 which, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, would amount to very little. On this basis I believe a change of atmosphere could occur immediately, a change which would bring together labour and management, and allow them to continue negotiations and, perhaps more than anything else, find a standard which would be acceptable and reasonable for the nonoperative railway workers, one which would be much higher than that suggested in the majority report of the conciliation board.

Topic:   PROVISION FOR CONTINUANCE OF RAILWAY OPERATIONS
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December 2, 1960

Mr. Piiman:

It depends on what the hon. member means by socialism. Remember what Oscar Wilde said, that the only real reason for socialism is to preserve the individual. If that is the hon. member's meaning of socialism I would be very pleased to accept it.

Topic:   I960
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