The authors-wish to express their thanks to the Commission's staff who translated
their original brief. An edited version appears here.
Unemployment is a phenomenon which has been analyzed mostly in macro-economic
terms. In the more usual studies an attempt is made to determine the size of the number of
unemployed in relation to the total labour force, as well as the general causes of the
increase in the percentage of unemployed. While we do not deny the importance of this
approach, there remain a large number of micro-economic and sociological aspects which have
received much less attention from the researchers, but which are also of great importance
for economic planning.
In the course of the study on living conditions of French-Canadian families we
gathered data which enables us to examine unemployment among the workers of Quebec from
certain angles. The research program is not centered on the unemployment problem, but rather
on the living conditions of wage-earners, on the structure of the family budget, and on the
needs and aspirations of families.
For the purposes of the study, 1,460 families distributed throughout the Province
of Quebec were interviewed during the summer of 1959. The questionnaire used for those
interviews furnished data on the family budget during one year (from the summer of 1958
until the summer of 1959). The population studied comprises all the complete families
(married at least one year), of French origin that are families of wage-earners in the
Province of Quebec.
The sample was stratified according to the characteristics of the municipality in
which the families live. Six different groups of families were formed in this way: (1)
wage-earning families in the metropolitan centres (Montreal and Quebec); (2) families in
towns with a population of over 30,000; (3) families in towns with a population of between
5,000 and 30,000; (4) families living in villages of rural municipalities where agriculture
is prosperous; (5) families in villages of rural municipalities where agriculture is
average; (6) families in villages of municipalities where agriculture is poor.
Before commenting at greater length on the implications of the high percentage of
unemployed in rural areas, it is necessary to define the yardstick which we use to measure
unemployment. This method is quite different from the measurement used by the government
agencies. The Dominion Bureau of Statistics, as well as the Federal Unemployment Insurance
Commission, measures the intensity of unemployment by calculating the percentage of the
labour force that is without work at a given moment. Thus, we find that in November 1960, 6
per cent of the Canadian labour force was without work, whereas in October 1960, that
percentage was 5&. Those rates do not enable us to determine whether the workers who
were unemployed in November had also been unemployed in October, nor the average duration of
unemployment. The measurement which we use is different in two respects. Firstly, instead of
taking the whole labour force into account, undifferentiated, we consider only those
unemployed persons who are heads of families, that is, the workers whose instability of
employment affects a large number of dependents. Secondly, we take into account the number
of families whose heads have been unemployed at any time during the year between the summer
of 1958 and the summer of 1959.
Thus if it is found in our study that 29 per cent of French-Canadian wage-earning
families were exposed to unemployment at some time during the year while the maximum monthly
rate of unemployment (as compiled by the government agencies) was 5 per cent during that
period, it can be deduced that the heads of families who were questioned were unemployed at
different periods of the year. The average duration of unemployment per family (19 weeks)
underlines the plausibility of this distribution of the phenomenon in terms of
This method of measuring unemployment makes it possible to grasp more clearly the
importance of under-employment in the Province of Quebec by laying bare certain phenomena
that have been concealed by the other measurements. Thus, during the year 1958-1959, more
than one-quarter of the wage-earning families of our sample were affected by unemployment at
one time or other. That is a much larger proportion than one would gather from the official
statistics. Furthermore, in the rural communities, unemployment affects between 30 per cent
and 50 per cent of the families. The importance of unemployment is no doubt connected with
the structure of occupation in the various communities. We can only present here a brief
analysis of the characteristics of various industries and occupations in the urban and rural
communities. A more thorough study would be necessary in order to situate the unemployment
problem in its total context.
DISTRIBUTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT
The percentage of families affected by unemployment increases as we move away from
the large urban centres. The same relationship exists when we consider the percentage of
families who have drawn unemployment insurance during the year. Even if it is the big cities
which have the largest absolute number of unemployed, as the official statistics indicate,
it is in those centres where their relative number is the smallest. In terms of probability,
the urban worker is therefore less exposed to unemployment than his opposite number in the
remote rural areas.
The average length of the period of unemployment varies very little from one place
to another. It is about four months. It is therefore not the duration of unemployment which
varies from one community to the other, but rather the probability of becoming
The place of present residence is the chief factor associated with unemployment.
Whatever his place of birth, the worker living in the rural community is more exposed to
unemployment than the one living in the city. Moreover, the worker born in the urban
community is less exposed to unemployment than the one who is born in the country. There is
therefore reason to believe that the worker of city origin is better prepared to find steady
employment. Finally, workers of rural origins, considerably decrease the probability of
being unemployed by migrating to the city. It would seem important to verify this
relationship with wider samples before accepting it absolutely. However, a brief analysis of
the occupational structure in rural and urban communities may make it possible to explain in
part the lower rate of unemployment that is characteristic of the urban
We must bear in mind, first of all, that unemployment affects primarily the
unskilled workers. This tendency has been shown by al! the studies on unemployment in
Canada. In our population 90 per cent of the workers who were unemployed during the year
were semi-skilled workers or labourers. It must also be remembered that in Canada seasonal
unemployment is one of the main forms, if not the main form of unemployment. Moreover, the
seasonal industries employ a very large number of unskilled workers (stevedores,
lumber-cutters, construction labourers, transport labourers, etc.). The level of
qualification of the rural workers is lower than that of the urban workers. That may be
explained by their lower level of education, but also by the nature of the jobs which they
can find in their community. The great majority of rural jobs are seasonal (bush work,
transportation, construction work, road building, mining etc.) and require few
qualifications. Moreover, the rural worker has difficulty finding a job in his locality. At
least half of the rural workers must travel to their place of work. Quite often those
journeys are so great that the worker is obliged to spend several days and even several
weeks away from his home. Once he is out of work, the rural worker may therefore prefer to
remain at home and draw unemployment insurance benefits before exiling himself once more in
order to look for work.
The consequences of unemployment at the level of family life are fairly easy to
predict. It is perhaps for that reason that few researchers have attempted to analyze them
in terms of concrete examples. The systematic analysis of those consequences is, however,
important if we wish to know the exact nature of this social evil, unemployment.
The standard of living of families subject to unemployment is lower than that of
other families. The available income per unit of consumption is decidedly lower. Half of the
families where the head is out of work have an annual income of less than $900 per unit of
consumption. The possession of the personal property common to French-Canadian homes is
measured by an index. Families where there is unemployment own fewer house hold goods than
other families. Thus, not only is current income lower, but the total investment in goods is
lower too. From that it can be assumed that the precariousness of the economic situation is
not a recent, accidental phenomenon, but a state which lasts for some time.
It is perhaps in regard to the steps taken to insure the security of the family
that the destitution of the unemployed is most pronounced. We built a security index: the
items comprising that index are the possession of life insurance, health insurance, a
pension plan, etc. Nearly half the families of unemployed workers have no guarantee of
security in case of family disaster, while 74 per cent of the other families have an
acceptable combination of insurance plans in case of unforeseen emergencies. The family of
the unemployed worker therefore has to suffer not only from the hardships due to the lack of
work, but is also vulnerable to all unforeseen calamities which may strike it.
Another important point is, that the unemployed predict that owing to lack of money
they will not be able to give their children the minimum of education which they consider
necessary in our modern society. If this prediction comes true, the children, for lack of
adequate preparation, will have to be employed as labourers or semi-skilled workers when
they begin their careers. The probability of their becoming unemployed in their turn will
therefore be fairly great (especially if we consider the future progress of automation).
Unemployment may therefore easily become a heritage that is perpetuated from generation to
The fact that the unemployed have less chance to provide a sufficient income for
their families in case of emergencies or illness is one indication of the difficulty they
have in saving. Actually, the premiums of the various forms of insurance necessary for
security of the family are savings which the unemployed person does not succeed in making.
We find this inability to save when it comes to savings in the form of bank deposits or
purchases of bonds. When the family exposed to unemployment does succeed in saving, it does
so in order to provide against contingencies that are likely to occur soon. The families
whose heads have a steady job ordinarily save for a more or less indefinite and remote
purpose. The unemployed person who manages to save usually has to withdraw his savings to
meet the necessities of daily life. For all the families exposed to unemployment, the
indebtedness during a year is greater than the savings.
These few considerations on the geographical distribution of unemployment and on
the socio-economic condition of the unemployed worker's family pose more problems, in fact,
than they enable us to solve. Unemployment is a major economic and sociological problem. The
politicians who seek to find a solution to it should, in our opinion, base themselves on
research centred on two main poles. After defining the various types of unemployment
(seasonal, structural, etc.,) they should determine the incidence of those types according
to the economic regions, urban and rural communities, etc. This analysis should be
accompanied by a structure-functional analysis of the regional economies. There no doubt
exist some large-scale economic remedies for unemployment (increased exports, deficit
budgeting, etc.). But to be really effective, most of those measures need an organic
adaptation to the local situation. No doubt such measures also demand some co-ordination
between the various sectors of industry and various levels of government.
However, unemployment does not only have causes, it also has effects on the life of
society, on family life and on the life of the individual. Our observations have enabled us
to show that the whole phenomenon of unemployment does not strike just any workers, but
rather particular classes of workers. Among heads of families, unemployment appears to be a
more or less hereditary phenomenon in the less favoured environments. This is not an
accident in the career of an individual, but rather a more or less permanent state peculiar
to certain individuals. This permanence of unemployment at the individual level, is creating
among us a real proletariat characterized by a very low standard of living, the total
absence of security in case of emergencies, and the impossibility of aspiring to a better
lot for future generations. It is important that this first analysis of the problem should
be supplemented by an analysis of the effects of unemployment on the single worker.
Likewise, it would be important to determine the implications both for the family and for
the single person of various types of unemployment.
Such research would make it possible not only to prepare programs of economic
expansion and of co-ordination of industries, but also to ensure greater economic and social
security through the adoption of measures proportionate to the needs of the various types of
workers. Thus, it would be possible, we hope, to nip this emerging proletariat in the
SummaryPersonnel men tend to define themselves as professionals. To find out whether they are justified in so doing, the Author describes the earmarks of a profession: specialization, spécific and unstandardized nature of the service to the client (who is more than just a customer), episodic and direct relationship between professional and client. With such criteria in hand, the Author argues that it is improbable that personnel work can be practised along the lines of a professional model; the bureaucratic model here appears more relevant.
SommaireAprès avoir analysé et commenté la Loi des relations ouvrières dans les deux précédentes livraisons de cette revue, cette fois-ci l'analyse critique porte spécifiquement sur le Règlement no 1 de la Commission de relations ouvrières. Cette dernière tranche comprend trois points : a) le caractère de bonne foi d'une association; b) son caractère représentatif; c) des remarques complémentaires sur l'ensemble du travail suivies d'une conclusion générale.
SommaireLes commis de magasin sont couverts par l'article 1668 c.c. et ont droit à un avis d'une semaine, si l'engagement est à la semaine.Jeannine Beaumont vs Weisor Ltée, Hon. Victor Trépanier, J. Cour de Magistrat, dictrict de Québec, 2 décembre 1960, no. 234-957.
SummaryA majority of the Board (the union representative dissenting) is of opinion that unless the obeying of an order would constitute an infraction of the law or a safety or health hazard to the employee, the order should be obeyed.Quebec Iron and Titanium Corporation and l'Union des Ouvriers du Fer et
du Titanium de Sorel. Jules Poisson, J. Président; Raymond Caron, Company
representative; Gérard Picard, union représentative, dissenting. Ministère du Travail,
Province de Québec, Bulletin d'Information, no. 1553, 15 mai 1961.
SommaireLe congédiement constituant une punition extrême, l'employé a le droit d'être entendu, et il incombe à l'employeur de prouver le rapport entre l'infraction et la sanction.Hôpital St-Jean et Association des Employés de l'Hôpital de St-Jean Inc., Roger Ouimet, J.C.S. président; Jean-Robert Gauthier, arbitre syndical; Jean Filion, C.R. arbitre patronal, dissident. Ministère du Travail, Province de Québec, Bulletin d'information, 17 mai 1961, no. 1555.
SummaryLes 10 et 11 avril, le Département des relations industrielles de Laval tenait son 16ème Congrès des relations industrielles. Le texte des travaux présentés sera bientôt publié dans un volume. Nous donnons ici un résumé des communications.