National War Labour Board

The National War Labour Board was established in 1941 with 5 regional boards to enforce the Canadian government's program of wage stabilization in the volatile wartime economy. The first chairman was Humphrey MITCHELL, later minister of labour.

National War Labour Board

The National War Labour Board was established in 1941 with 5 regional boards to enforce the Canadian government's program of wage stabilization in the volatile wartime economy. The first chairman was Humphrey MITCHELL, later minister of labour. In early 1943, strong pressures created by a steel strike and worker agitation led to his replacement by Justice C.P. McTague. McTague had broad powers to deal with labour militancy and, unlike Mitchell, he was not identified with partisan politics. Prime Minister Mackenzie King instructed him to recommend modifications to the Wage Stabilization Order and to draft a labour-relations code.

McTague and his colleague on the board, lawyer Joseph Cohen, had strong personal and political disagreements that resulted in separate reports being presented in August 1943. Cohen was dismissed, but McTague's report considerably affected government policy. McTague recommended that the board should have the authority to adjust wages that had been held down unfairly by the government and that family allowances might be considered as an alternative policy if it appeared that wage adjustment would be inflationary. The government eventually adopted both recommendations. McTague's wartime labour code took form on 17 February 1944. It defined the right of labour to organize and established a system for defining and certifying bargaining units. It formed the basis for the postwar Canadian system of LABOUR RELATIONS. The board's authority declined soon afterwards, when McTague resigned to become a Conservative candidate.


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