Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Unemployment Relief Acts New Brunswick Experiences the Depression

Dominion-Provincial Conference on Unemployment Relief
The 1932 Dominion-Provincial Conference on Unemployment Relief resulted in the implementation of another scheme to relieve the suffering. A tri-party system of direct relief was adopted which required federal, provincial, and municipal governments to contribute one-third each of the total amount paid. Only the neediest qualified for direct assistance, thereby reducing funding costs. About the same time a dominion-provincial-municipal land settlement scheme was formulated which, like the direct relief plan, required the participation of all three levels of government. Each level was responsible for one-third of the costs to a total of $600 per applicant. The overriding intent of this plan was that participating families would become self-supporting
The implementation of direct relief and indirect relief programmes, however, served only to relieve the suffering of the unemployed, and failed to address the underlying problem of unemployment. Indirect relief offered recipients a chance to earn their income by working on government-sponsored public works projects. Direct relief provided the needy with the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, often in the form of vouchers or goods.
As the Depression wore on, the government favoured direct relief over public works projects, because it was thought to be less expensive. The land settlement or back-to-the-land scheme also gained in popularity. In poor provinces, such as New Brunswick, however, limited financial resources made it difficult, if not impossible, for the province or the municipalities to participate in the tri-party schemes. By 1932, with businesses closing and unemployment figures rising steadily, Canadians were desperate for any form of relief.