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Canada And The Great Depression

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The 1900s was a great time for change in Canada. The two most significant events being the First World War and the Great Depression. In both events the government had to be involved. But how much government involvement does it take to keep a country in order during these times? Many still ponder this question, even a century later. Personally I believe that the government needs to do all it can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its people, especially during times of hardship. I will be talking about the Great Depression and its effects on Canada and its people in the next few paragraphs.

During World War 1 many factories and businesses were built. This gave many new opportunities. Hundred were employed, which meant hundreds were pumping money into the economy. Women were allowed to work in positions of authority, meaning they had extra money to spend and invest. Another factor that kept Canada's economy strong and booming was The International Trade. Eventually, though, many of the factories began to fail after the war. Many of them were built strictly to make supplies for the war to send off to soldiers and sell to different countries. In 1927, signs started being relevant that North America's economy was in trouble. This was when the wheat market began to crash along with many other businesses. Much more product was being produced than sold and eventually manufacturers decreased their productions leading to layoffs. This meant less income for families and less money to be put back into the economy, leading up to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The depression illustrated a major weakness in the Canadian economy. Some wealthy and middle class Canadians noticed little change in their lifestyle, while many felt it hard. It is estimated that between 1929 and 1933 Country wide spending declined by 42% and 30% of the working class was unemployed. 1 in 5 Canadians became dependent upon government relief for survival. Most people that felt the fast effects of the depression were the factory workers that lost their jobs due to the numerous lay-offs. Thousands lived off "pogey" which is a government relief payment given to those who had no other means of income. Acquiring a "pogey" was a humiliating experience seeing as one had to publicize financial failure and wait in line for hours. The depression was brought on in Canada by overproduction and international markets reducing their demand for these products. This caused many people to lose their jobs, especially on the prairies when the wheat market began to crash. Because of the depression causing food shortage many people died from diseases and malnutrition. Many people lost their houses that they had been trying to pay off for years, families were broken up when fathers and husbands had to leave to try and find jobs in other provinces, and the depression had no signs of ending.

The effects of the Great depression in Brantford, Ontario may not have been as bad as they were in the larger cities. Some say they remember few hardships while others remember food shortages and lack of money and work. The drought of the Prairie Provinces was one major factor that affected Brantford. Many of the cities industries manufactured farm equipment. Suddenly, there was no demand for these products. Many lay-offs occurred and there was only a scarce amount of workers left. All laborers were laid off with the hope that when the economy picked up they would be called back to work. But the economy didn't pick up. Some of the men left town, hoping to find work elsewhere, but many had to suffer the effects of depression. Unemployment and lack of money was the biggest weight on everyone shoulders. But greater yet was the need of putting food on the table. This became a major concern, but luckily during this era, there was a small privately owned grocery store in every neighborhood where credit was readily available. Many people bought groceries during the week and paid for them when they got paid on Friday. In 1931, Prime Minister Bennett set up a Relief Program in Canada. The payments were low and covered only two things, money for food and fuel during the winter months. Each city had its own rules for those on Relief. In Brantford, one of the requirements was that you had to be a resident and a second requirement was that you had to turn in your liquor permits to the city Relief Office, as liquor was a problem and it was the city's intention that Relief money only be spent on necessities. A third condition was that all people receiving Relief must be willing to work. Some were asked to pull weeds, cut grass, collect



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