Did the Canadian Government Do Enough During the Great Depression?

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The Great Depression

Were Canada’s government’s responses to the Great Depression adequate?

By: Prateek Madhika


Were Canada’s government’s responses to
The Great Depression adequate?

After World War I ended in 1919, Canada had a small recession during the World war, but after the war, Canada had the fastest growing economy in the world. The 1920s had been a successful period of growth for Canada, with living standards improving remarkably. Then suddenly, in the late 1920s the economy took a sharp turn for the worse. The depression originated in the US, directly caused by the spark of the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday, but quickly spread to almost every country in the world due to globalization. Canada was then in depression from 1929 until 1939 when World War II started.

The depression had a big impact on the Canadian economy, and it hurt the economy very severely. The people of Canada could not do anything to help get themselves out of the depression but be dependent on the government to help them out. Everyone in Canada was relying on the government to help them out as the depression lasted. But, the government did not do as expected to do. The government either ignored issues, or suggested inefficient methods of solving problems, passed the responsibility of solving a problem onto provinces, took inadequate actions or even worsened them. When 27% of Canadians were unemployed, the government thought that this issue was a local issue and therefore the responsibility of solving it should be given to the provinces. The government could not resolve the economic issue as the other countries, such as the US, did. Although the Unemployment Relief Act allotted $20 million to be used to relief , it was not enough. Many Canadians were unhappy of how the government was “helping” the people during the depression. They were not satisfied of what the government was doing, or not doing to help them. The government was taking poor people off the street and into “relief camps” in remote areas. The relief camps gave jobs to the jobless and gave shelter and food to the ones without it. Although the “relief camps” were meant to relief the poor from the depression, one had to be very poor and give up some rights to be eligible for stay in a relief camp.

The depression hurt the economy very seriously and had very serious effects. “The gross national product dropped 40% “ and also “Unemployment reached 27% at the depth of the Depression in 1933” . The loss of jobs for so many people caused them many difficulties surviving the depression. The drop of economy affected everyone including children. Everyone had troubles earning money to eat, for transportation and for shelter. “Street car tickets for children were 12 for a quarter. We’d use a razor blade to start and then we’d peel each one in half. So then we’d have 24. We used to pray that when they dropped in the box they’d land right side up. Some kids had the idea that if you plastered the open side with spit they’d fall right side up. I was going downtown to high school and my Dad worked out East Hastings. So I’d get on the Commercial Drive streetcar two blocks from Hastings and get a transfer. My old man would be waiting down two blocks, at the transfer stop. There would always be somebody, usually quite a few, getting out. I had this tin case that eye glasses came in and when the door, the rear door opened, I’d toss out the case with the transfer in it. Dad would pick it up, cross the street and catch the East Hastings car. All done slick as a whistle. I don’t think anybody ever caught on. Oh we had our tricks.” This shows that people had to be very careful on spending money, during the depression people could not afford to buy two tickets for transportation and instead had to come up with tricks to reduce money expenditure and save money. “When Unemployment reached 20% and 27% at the depth of the Depression in...
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