Canada puts lid on wages, forces bonus (10-25-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 25, 1941)

Canada puts lid on wages, forces bonus

Wartime order provides for adjustments on cost-of-living basis

Ottawa, Oct. 25 (UP) –
No employer may raise wages beyond present levels but must pay basic cost-of-living bonuses under the terms of the Canadian Wartime Wages Order announced today by Labor Minister Norman McLarty.

The Labor Minister said the new regulations would apply to:

  1. Every employer normally subject to the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act.
  2. Every employer engaged in any form of defense contracts.
  3. Every building trades employer employing more than 10 men.
  4. Every other private employer with 50 or more employees.

Some exceptions granted

The order-in-council does not apply to agriculture, fioshing, hospitals, religious, charitable or educational institutions operating on a non-profit basis.

The order specified that an employer might increase his wage rate only when a National Wage Board agreed that existing wages are abnormally low. At the same time, all employees from the rank of foreman down are eligible for the bonus.

Mr. McLarty said that any employer who considers his rates high enough to be regarded as including the cost-of-living bonus may be believed from paying the bonus if the National Board agrees.

Bonuses limited

While there was no specific prohibition of bonuses or other compensation in excess of basic standards, the regulation stipulated that:

…any payment of wages of bonuses in excess of the amounts prescribed shall be disavowed as an abnormal expense under the incomes and excess profits tax.

The only “ceiling” specified for the application of the cost-of-living bonus was a provision that:

…the employer is not required to pay a bonus to employees above the rank of foremen.

There was a further stipulation that employers who can show to the National Board that they are financially unable to pay the bonus may be authorized not to pay it, or to pay it only in part.

Bonus specified

The bonus which employees are to receive under the new regulations are set forth as:

For each rise of 1% in the cost of living 25¢ per week for all adult male employees and for other employees working for basic wage rates of $25 or more per week, or 1% of their basic weekly wage rates for male employees under 21 years of age and female workers employed at basic wage rates of less than $25 per week.

A National War Labor Board will enforce the new orders.

A fine of from $100 to $5,000 may be imposed upon any employer who violates the regulations or, any direction of the board.