HC Deb 14 June 1945 vol 411 cc1818-9W

The mobilisation of Canada's resources for the common war effort in some respects involved a relatively greater displacement of personnel than in most other countries. There are for example, between 300,000 and 400,000 soldiers and airman overseas, many of whom have been away from their homes for four or five years without a break. Their repatriation and re-establishment in civilian life will be a first charge on the Government of Canada, and must take priority over the movement and placement of others. Having in mind shortage of shipping, which is expected to continue for a considerable period after the end of the European hostilities, and is likely to make the repatriation of service personnel a disappointingly slow business, the Canadian Government do not think it is possible for them to give realistic consideration at this time to possible plans for the movement of other classes of persons. In this connection it is also pointed out that the great expansion of war industries in Canada has tended to be concentrated in certain areas, to which scores of thousands of workers have been drawn from all over a very large country. Here again the task of their re-establishment in normal civilian employments will be of considerable magnitude and is likely to take some time.

These problems are therefore receiving priority in the Canadian Government's consideration. As the Government make progress with the question of the repatriation and re-establishment of Canadian overseas service personnel, and of the demobilisation of war industries, they will be ready to consider with other countries what steps should be taken to facilitate the movement of persons wishing to change their place of work and residence from one country to another. They have examined the conditions under which reciprocal exchange of social security benefits can be arranged in such cases, and other kindred aspects of the subject. They will gladly enter into discussions with the United Kingdom authorities on these matters as early as the situation may make this practicable and fruitful.