Canada's Coal Problem
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Feb 1947, p. 200-211


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Canada's Coal Problem


Coal remaining as the major source of industrial energy, as well as a major source of domestic heating, to an extent that any serious shortage of supply must result in curtailment of industrial production, consequential unemployment, and suffering in Canadian homes. Coal as the first basic material to be placed under control after the outbreak of war. Canada's coal supply the speaker's responsibility from 1939 to the end of 1946, when coal was decontrolled, providing many anxious hours. The current supply position excellent. The hope that private enterprise will maintain that position. The hardships that can result from even a temporary shortage of coal apparent in the United Kingdom today. A description of Canada's coal supply. The difficulties of continuing peacetime coal industry, caused by the urgent need for coal during the war period, and the necessity for obtaining production almost regardless of cost. Attempting to solve this problem through the appointment of a Royal Commission on Coal in 1944, to report on all aspects of the problems relating to coal. The report tabled in Parliament a few days ago, representing months of careful and conscientious study of the Commissioners. A review of much that has been said and written about the Canadian coal problem. Findings of the Report of the Royal Commission on Coal. Addressing the problem of providing and maintaining an adequate market for Canadian coal. The recommendation that the present Dominion Fuel Board be replaced by a new statutory body, which will serve full time in the administration of present subvention policies. A discussion of the other main problem of the production of coal throughout Canada at the lowest possible cost, with an examination of specific coal fields, especially those in the Maritime provinces. Approaching the time when special production subsidies no longer can be justified. Suggestions and recommendations from the Royal Commission in this regard. Wages for coal miners. The need for higher output rates; how to attain this objective. Agreement by all Commissioners that it is not practical to contemplate an all-Canadian coal supply, and that the continued importation of coal from the United States will be necessary. Also an agreement that this should not preclude the maintenance of a coal producing industry in Canada, upon a level that will afford a reasonable prosperity to the operators, a fair level of employment and wages to labour, and some assurance of adequate coal supply to the nation. Agreement with the policy of assisting Canadian coal to find a wider market by means of subventions and the present tariff. Commissioners unanimous in the opinion that nationalization of the industry does not offer any promise of improvement over present conditions. The supply problem in Ontario and Quebec; their dependence on imported coal; consequences of that dependence. How to ensure that Ontario and Quebec have a reasonable security of coal supply in the future. The need for the thoughtful consideration of Canada's coal supply and industry, by every Canadian.