I desire to say a few words under this item, because there is involved in this discussion a principle of far-reaching effect upon the working people and the industries of Canada, particularly the working people. British Columbia is the third province in the Dominion in the value of manufactured products, and Vancouver ranks fourth among the cities. In 1927 the gross value of our manufactured products was $246,000,000, and to-day it could be properly estimated at about $2SO,000,000 or $290,000,000. In 1927 there were 47,740 employees with a payroll of $56,000.000; to-day on the basis of the statistics furnished by the Dominion government, probably there would be about 60,000. In 1927 there were 1,509 plants with a capital investment of $325,000,000'.
A few days ago we had presented to parliament and passed a measure known as the Fair Wages and Eight Hour Day Act, 1930, the principles of which I heartily support. The words of one section of that bill are significant as embodying the need in this country for some protection to labour and the industry of Canada from the unfair competition of the oriental countries such as China and Japan. The section to which I refer is in these words and has reference to contracts with the government of Canada:
All persons in the employ of the contractor, subcontractor, or of any other person doing or contracting to do the whole or any part of the work contemplated by the contract shall be paid such wages as are generally accepted as current from time to time for competent workmen in the district in which the work is being performed for the character or class of work in which they are respectively engaged; provided that wages shall in all cases be such as are fair and reasonable
The point I wish to make in that regard, Mr. Chairman, is one which very vitally concerns the people of British Columbia and particularly the workers in the industrial life of that province. My hon. friend from Lincoln
Ways and Means-Customs Tariff
produced an authoritative statement of comparative wages in connection with the silk manufacturing business in Canada, the United States and other countries; the statement shows that for the forty-eight hour week, male weavers in the silk industry in the United States received $34.27. In Canada they receive $29; in Japan they receive a wage of $2.54, which with food allowance, amounts to about $4 and in China male skilled workers receive $1.80 per week. What I desire to bring to the attention of the government is this: We in Canada, and particularly those interested in these matters in British Columbia, realize the need of a reasonable protective tariff which will protect not only industries but the labour that goes into our industrial life from the competition of those workers in the orient who receive such low wages. It is utterly useless to put low tariffs upon goods coming into this country; to make regulations and laws respecting fair wages and the eight hour day and at the same time allow products to come in from Japan and China where weekly wages of $4 and $1.80 respectively are paid as compared with $29 in Canada for the same class of work. I desire to place that principle before the house and bring it to the attention of the Minister of Finance. Reductions have been made in a great number of these items, which will unnecessarily and adversely affect the working people and industrial life of this country. My submission is that when the government entered the waters of protection, instead of putting one foot in they should have gone in and had a swim for the good economic health of Canada. Had they done that a great number of industries in Canada would have been beneficially affected and the working population of this country would have been much better off. However, that was not done and we in the west are faced with competition from countries where labour is so cheap and where the standards of living are not comparable with those obtaining in this country. The arguments presented by my hon. friends should receive the favourable commendation of the minister and consideration should be extended to the adverse effects and possibilities of competition from oriental countries. No policy is sound or statesmanlike which is not founded in the welfare and happiness of the masses of our people.
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic: CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT