First Ministers Constitutional Conference- Third Working Session- A Statement on Unemployment in Canada
A STATEMENT ON UNEMPLOYMENT IN CANADA
THE FEBRUARY 1971
HONOURABLE HARRY E. STROM
PREMIER OF ALBERTA
The Alberta Government has consistently argued
that if the price of eliminating inflation is the creation of
unemployment, the price is too high.
if the price of eliminating inflation is slowing
the growth rate of the country, particularly of its rapidly
developing regions, like Alberta, then the price is too high.
it is not now, and never has been in the national
interest to retard the diversification of growing areas. Canadians
will no longer accept the outworn and outdated economic theories
of the federal government. To meet the challenges of the seventies
will require new approaches. The traditional emphasis in Canada
which relies on boom and bust cycles should now give way to a
policy of regular and controlled expansion of the money supply.
The total money supply must equal the total goods and services
available in the country.
Canada’s unemployment is now at its highest point
in twenty-five years and is still rising at an alarming rate.
The federal government’s indiscriminate skirmish against
inflation has not left pensioners and others any better off. What
has it done then? It has merely succeeded in pushing hundreds of
thousands of Canadians to the brink of disaster.
We now have suffering, enforced idleness and de~
pressed economic conditions when we should be creating new job
opportunities, encouraging business activity and developing a
climate of growth.
Federal government policies of austerity imposed
to fight inflation have cut buying power on the home market,
slowed down economic activity, created mass unemployment,
deepened regional disparities, aggravated the recession trend,
and caused incalculable hardship on thousands of Canadians.
The federal government’s approach to economic
development is to designate “poor“, “well-off“ and “rich” regions
and to pour money into the first, to ignore the second, and to
penalize — as with the deferment on capital cost allowances ‘-
what they consider to be rich regions. They attempt to upgrade
the poor regions by heavily subsidizing industry to locate there
and by equalization payments between provinces.
in terms of equalization payments between provinces,
we are caught in a dilemma. We are prepared to recognize that our
immense resource wealth should be shared with all Canadians. For
this reason we have contributed to equalization payments because
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this system is the only one that all the provinces and federal
government have been able to agree on to date. But we are highly
critical of this system because again it is based on statistical
averages and not on the real poverty experienced by real individuals
which is the basis on which meaningful equalization payments
should be made. in other words individual Canadians wherever they
live, should be assured of decent minimum standards. It is in;
dividuals who experience poverty or unemployment, not regions.
Given our approach, every Canadian could be sure
of a decent existence; every province would be-required to develop
programs best suited to the potential and needs of its particular
geographic area; and every industry would be encouraged to build and
locate itself on the basis of efficiency.
The Alberta Government stands for provincial respons-
ibility and authority. We stand for free enterprise and equal
opportunity. The Alberta Government calls for:
(1) an end to discriminatory and punitive measures against
expanding and growing provinces;
(2) a re-orientation of federal programs away from regions
and toward assisting individual Canadians wherever they
(3) an abandonment of economic Policies which have demonstrated
their total inadequacy, particularly those policies
which have led to unemployment;
a new policy of regular and controlled expansion of
the money supply to enable orderly and stable growth
in the Canadian economy;
development of immediate co-operative ventures to
stimulate a climate which will create new jobs.