The great depression, a time that was hard for almost all Canadian citizens. A time where Canadians looked towards there government for some form of decisive action that would end the great depression but unfortunately, Canadians only received relief efforts and attempts at protecting our economy both of which where horrible inadequate. As a result, Canadians during this time faced a series of hardships which worsened the human condition.
The conditions suffered by the middle class citizen during the depression where significantly less then desirable. Most people had little to nothing.
Single men where forced to live on the streets and sleep in jails or go to a relief camp, the average middle class citizen lost all savings and many had possessions repossessed, as the following quote illustrates, ” One man, now trying to support a wife and three kids on wages that in august average $15.00 to 18.00 for 52 hours had lost his house, a building lot which he had invested, a 15 year endowment policy and about $800 of savings.” Middle class and poor people during the great depression where so poor that they had to barter their children for food, ” . However, for a person with money, the great depression was the best time to be alive, everything was dirt cheap because of the oversupply and under demanded. But, however great there difference in capitals where, middle and upper class citizens still had a yearning, to an extent, for the governmental administration to some how end the depression which the masses where suffering through.
The relief camps which where run by the Canadian federal government during the 1930’s in no way served to better the fallen economical state so much as it served to further depresses the human sprit. They where treated as cheap labor instead of citizens who where willing to work and had farming skills. “…We where shit. Dirt. Slaves…what else would you call a man who is given twenty cents a day and expected to believe there bullshit that where an important part of the country.” The relief camps offered almost identical if not worse conditions as living on the streets those failing as “relief” from the conditions to which these people came from and acted more as a jail. 4″ …It was jail .you know. What else would you call it? All the fresh air and sunshine you could stand [but minimal entertainment]” As can be seen by the above statements, relief camps served more as prisons for men committing no crime more then acting as relief.
Relief payments act as another great example of inadequate response by the Canadian government to end the depression. Where usually given as vouchers which banks would not accept making them worth nothing and providing no relief. ” In all Ontario cities for which relief has been issued in kind or in orders rather than in cash” Rules that had to be followed to get relief payments acted as more of a deterrent for prouder peoples instead of just outlining things that had to be done to get these payments. “
1. Prove that you are not able to support yourself and that no relative can help … 9. Allow relief office investigators to come to your home to check on these rules.” Payments varied in quantity from province to province as they did sometimes region to region. Show signs of a bad administration because cost of living did not coincide with the increases and decreases from one region to the next. “The value of food orders for a family of five varied from $3.50 to $8.50 weekly in eleven cities.” In short, relief payments, though a program with good intentions, still failed to both give the Canadian economy the kick-start it needed as well as give accurate finical aid to needy Canadians.
Protective tariffs proved to be yet another inadequate government response to the falling economy. R.B Bennett hoped to make other countries lower or abolish their high import taxes however, other countries kept their tariff walls and Canada lost more money because lost their edge on the world market. Even without as many foreign imported goods, Canadians still did not buy enough goods to stop the further down fall of Canadian industry . ” Unfortunately, [tariff walls] failed and Canadian industry continued its tailspin.” Also, the newly imposed tariffs made Canada less competitive in the world market , which made Canada loss even more money. As one can conclude, putting tariffs in actually had the reverse affect and made Canada loss money from the decrease in foreign trade. However, one can argue with a degree of confidence that workmen’s rights might not be in place today if not for the great depression.
Franklin Roosevelt’s probably wouldn’t have thought up his “new deal” which is the basis for workmen’s rights today and the origin of R.B. Bennett’s “New deal” if the great depression never occurred. The following where the points outlined in this deal ” an eight hour work day, minimum wage, and unemployment insurance plan, elimination of child labor, control of prices.” Employers, without the great depression, would most likely not accept these concepts. Without an example of what happens without these safety nets, employees might not have seen the need for a plan such as this and therefore no one would have looked at this idea until after a depression.
“Although little support is given as to why the above is true, one can speculate that it is merely human In closing, inadequate attempts made by the Canadian government during the great depression such as relief payments, relief camps and tariff walls where all means of achieving very little if any results at the ultimate goal of ending the great depression for Canadians. However, one can ask, if the great depression wouldn’t have occurred during this time, when would a depression of its magnitude occur next and, without the lessons learnt from the great depression, would the world economical stat ultimately stay depressed?
Courtney from Study Moose
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