Canada and the Depression
1.The Depression illustrated a major weakness in the Canadian economy:its dependency on the export of primary resources – wheat from thePrairies and newsprint from B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.2.Canada supplied 40% of the world demand for wheat and 65% of thedemand for newsprint.3.As international markets reduced their demand for these products,people in Canada’s wheat and paper industries lost their jobs => couldno longer afford to buy cars, radios, telephones => workers in factoriesproducing these goods lost their jobs. Within a year, millions of Canadians were out of work.4.Canada’s economy was hit particularly hard because of its close ties tothe U.S. economy.
1.While some wealthy and middle-class Canadians with secure jobsnoticed little change in their lifestyle, many people working in factoriesand businesses lost their jobs.2.The loss of a job also meant the loss of respect:
“I never so much as stole a dime, a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas,but in those days I was treated like a criminal. By the twist in somemen’s minds, men in high places, it became a criminal act just to be poor, and this percolated down through the whole structure until it reached the town cop or railway “bull” and if you were without a job,on the roads, wandering, you automatically became a criminal. It was the temper of the times.”
3.Thousands existed on
” – government relief payments given tothose who had no alternative source of income.
People had to wait in line for hours and then publicly declare their financial failure.
They had to swear that they did not own anything of value and provethat they were being evicted from their home.
If the applicant met these requirements, they received vouchers thatcould be used to buy food.
The vouchers were never enough to cover expenses, and obtainingthem was always a humiliating experience.4.Private charities and soup kitchens helped the hungry and homeless,but some people could not bear the hardships and committed suicide.5.By the winter of 1933, more than ¼ of Canada’s workforce wasunemployed.