Black Tuesday • October 29, 1929 – stock market crashes and takes with it many peoples homes, money and dreams. • Many people had borrowed money from banks to buy stocks and could not repay debts. • People everywhere in dire problems. A “Bear” Market
Causes of the Great Depression • Shrinking Demand • Canada’s Dependence on the United States • High Tariffs/ Low International Trade • Too Much Credit Buying • Lack of Financial Regulations • Black Tuesday
1930s • Few people were prepared for the depression; by 1933, over 1/3 of Canadians did not have work • By 1933 more than 1.5 million Canadians needed relief • By 1936, 2/3 of graduates could not find a job • There was no money for food, clothing, and other necessities. Items bought on credit were being recalled
Many people lived near starvation and suffered from malnutrition • People couldn’t afford to buy new clothes…worn out clothes were patched; old flour sacks were used to make dresses, underwear, and shoes in the winter • No unemployment insurance; no welfare system; no gov’t supported medical care; no family allowance • Those without money were depending on the government for relief • Unfortunately, there was no system for relief…in the past, charities and city councils dealt with relief; however, with so many unemployed they could not handle it alone
The PM • William Lyon Mackenzie King was the LIBERAL Prime Minister at the beginning of the Great Depression and remains Canada’s longest serving PM of all time.
Despite demands for help, the federal gov’t was slow to react. • William Lyon Mackenzie King felt that the best thing to do was wait out the depression…he thought it would be short lived and that better times were coming soon • He insisted that social welfare was the responsibility of the provinces • States he will not give a “FIVE CENT PIECE”to any non-liberal provincial government • Conservative Leader Bennett accuses King of ignoring the plight of the people
R.B. Bennett • R.B. Bennett, in the 1930 election, kept the memory of the “Five Cent Piece” Speech alive and used it to attack PM Mackenzie King.
Bennett’s Platform • Promised to find work for all who are willing to work • Promised the provinces $20 million in emergency funds for relief payments • Promised to deal with foreign trade policies that were impeding Canadian exports • Promised to “blast our way” into the world markets • Hoped to boost Canada’s manufacturing by raising tariff on imports
Bennett Canada’s Next Conservative PM • Bennett said all the right things • Unfortunately, when he came into power, his policies did not help the economic crisis • His emergency funds and highest protective tariffs in Canada’s history eased the pain, but did not cure the symptoms
Problems with Relief • No uniform way to distribute the money • Distribution of funds given to Municipalities to decide how to deal with the large numbers of needy • Should you have to live in a city a certain amount of time to get relief? • Who qualifies as needy? • To get relief, people often had to prove that they could not pay their rent, and that their phone, water and electricity services had been stopped. Ontario made them turn in their driver’s licenses. Some unmarried and widowed women, or those with husbands in jail, could not qualify for money
More Problems with Relief • In some provinces, a family with 2 children was expected to live on food vouchers that amounted to less than $10/month • Many suffered from scurvy and TB as a result of poor diet • Many were forced to line up to receive bread and soup from private charities • Anyone on relief in Saskatchewan who was caught buying alcohol automatically lost their relief
Relief Camps or Slave Camps? • In 1932, Bennett’s government set up relief camps across the country for single, unemployed men. Men worked 8 hours a day cutting brush, moving rocks, and building roads for food, shelter and 20 cents a day.
“Riding the Rods” • Thousands of people did what was known as “Riding the Rods/Rails” trying to find jobs in other cities • They would hop on freight trains as they pulled out of the station…they couldn’t afford the fares • Although it was illegal, there were not enough police to stop them
Hard Times • Times were so bad that people couldn’t afford to buy new clothes and worn-out clothes were patched and re-patched • Old flour sacks were used to make dresses and underwear • Some people tied flour sacks around their feet in winter because they had no overshoes • Some children used old socks for mittens
Impact on Aboriginals • Since 1876 after the passage of the Indian Act the government had tried to assimilate the Aboriginal peoples. They encouraged them to leave their lands and join in the mainstream Canadian society. • When the depression hit the government largely ignored the Aboriginal peoples. They urged them back to their traditional ways of life by returning to their lands and living off of it. • Many Aboriginal lands had already been taken. • Many of the laws stated that they could not hunt on the lands
To save money the government cut money from the First Nations reserves. • Many of these communities experienced hunger, malnutrition, and diseases such as tuberculosis. • The government tried relocating the Inuit people to areas that had more game and other resources. • They also wanted to populate northern areas to shows Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic.
The On-to-Ottawa Trek • In June of 1935 many British Columbian men fed up with life in relief camps boarded freight trains bound for Ottawa to protest to government. The men wanted clear economic reforms, such as minimum wages and a genuine system of social and unemployment insurance.
The Regina Riot • Bennett sends the RCMP to stop the Trek, calling it a “Communist uprising”. • When confronted, a riot ensues • Dozens injured and a police officer killed
Bennett asked the people to be patient • He believed the government could not spend more money than it collected in taxes • Believed the government should not borrow money to give to the poor • Bennett believed that the rich and the fortunate should give money to help the poor…Bennett, himself, gave thousands of dollars to many who wrote him
Letters to Bennett Dear Sir,I am writing to see if their is any help I could get.As I have a baby thirteen days old that only weighs one pound and I have to keep in cotton Wool & Olive Oil, and I haven’t the money to buy it, if their is any help I could gettheir will be two votes for you next election Hoping to hear from you soonYoursTruly,Mrs. Jack O’Hannen Murray Harbour, PEI Dear Mr. Bennett,I believe you to be good as well as a great mantherefore I am appealing to you to save my home. Picture yourself, through no fault of your own, homeless with sons willing, but unable to provide for you.Please help me or tell me what I can do.Yours Sincerely and hopefully, Laura Bates.Toronto Sept 3, 1933
People blame Bennett • “Bennett buggies” • “Bennett boroughs” (shacks where the unemployed camped around cities) • “Bennett coffee” (roasted wheat or barley, a cheap substitute for the real thing) • “Bennett blankets” (newspapers used as covers by the homeless) • “Bennett barnyard” (abandoned farm)
1935 and the Depression rolls on PM Bennett knew that Canadians were growing increasingly angry with the gov’t over the economy. The depression was dragging on and it seemed as if the gov’t was doing nothing about it. Bennett accused of creating Band-Aid solutions or solutions that made things seem better short term but in fact did nothing to help the larger problems
The New Deal In 1935, just before the election, Bennett introduced radical reforms – his “New Deal” which calls for more minimum wages, limited working hours, fair treatment of employees, control of prices so that businesses cannot make unfair profits, and social and unemployment insurance.