The Great Depression in Canada


The Great Depression was a worldwide economic crash that quickly reached Canada. The gross national product dropped to about 40% and the unemployed reached about 27%. By  1933, 30% of the labour force were out of work,  and one in five Canadians looked up to the government to provide for them for them to be able to survive. Prime minister in the 1920's was Mackenzie King but was replaced in the 1930's by Richard B Bennett, Canada voted for Bennett hoping that he would improve the poor economy. R.B.Bennett introduced the new policy that promised unemployment insurance, reduced work week, and minimum wage, but unfortunately Bennett's policy failed and did little to help Canada which resulted in the re election of Mackenzie King in 1935. King dropped the new policy in 1937 and established a Reciprocity Treaty with the U.S, he converted CRBC (Canadian Radio Broadcast Commission) into CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and nationalized Bank of Canada with that came supported relief camps with funding.

Richard B Bennett to the left and William Lyon Mackenzie King to the right.

The reason Canada was affected so harshly by the worldwide Great Depression was because the economy depended on other nations to buy Canadian goods and about 33% of national income was from exports. Many of the causes of this economic crash were due to the dept and cost of WWI. Due to the huge drop in salary many people turned to the government to register for relief rates, but to be legible families turned in liquor permits, licence plates, and telephones. 1 in 5 Canadians relied on government relief rates though rates varied from city a family of five for example may have been given about 20 dollars a month to survive and as poverty continued people began to blame Bennett.

Though Canada as a whole was plummeting the four Western provinces were greatly effected compared to the East, the West went bankrupt in 1932 and on wards. Saskatchewan's total province income dropped from 90% in two years forcing 66% of the population to go on relief.

Suicide rates increased from 1927-29, there were 300 and in 1930 alone there were 404 suicide deaths. The population growth reached it's lowest point because of descending immigration and birthrates. When a child turned 16 the relief was cut forcing many young women and men looking for work and as time went on the government setup relief camps also known as slave camp, where men would work crazy hours for only about 20 cents per day.

In April 1935 the workers union went on strike in Vancouver, after two months the strikers decided to move to Ottawa but when Bennett heard about it he tried to put a stop to it which caused a riot.

Recovery and Bettering

Canada's recovery from the Great Depression began when WWII started in 1939 and the total war mindset opened up many jobs for men and women. Canada was greatly affected by the Great Depression, but the Great Depression shows us just how much it took to to get to where we are today.

Social Changes in Canada

Women's Rights

The famous 5 is a group of five women who sought to have women legally looked at as people. Emily Murphy, Irene Marryat Parlby, Nellie Mooney McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, Henrietta Muir Edwards where the names of the five women. These women believed that women should be looked at as people. Back then women where not allowed to do many things for example voting and these five women thought that this was unfair and that women themselves play a big role on earth. By 1929, Alberta's women had secured many of the liberties commonly withheld because of gender, but surprisingly, women could not be appointed to the Senate because The British North America (BNA) Act declared, “women are persons in matters of pain and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges.” the five women initiated to the Supreme Court of Canada to make changes. On October 18, 1929, the Lord Chancellor of the Privy Council declared, “women are eligible to be summoned and may become Members of the Senate of Canada.”

By: Nana and Christina

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