CHAPTER X.--SUBSIDIARY RECOMMENDATIONS. (continued)

Need for Statistical Service.

  625. One of the matters which we commend to the attention of the new Government is the need for the collection of full and accurate statistics relating to every branch of the Island's life. Such statistics are essential to the formulation of policy and are the stock-in-trade of modern administration. No Government can afford to dispense with them.

  626. The statistics at present available, apart from the Customs Returns which are full and excellent, are largely based on estimates which may or may not be accurate. No census has been taken since 1921 and, in many matters in which accurate information is essential to a full understanding of conditions in the country, guesswork has perforce to be substituted.

  627. We fully appreciate the difficulty of collecting accurate statistics in a country in which a small population is scattered over so lengthy a coastline, but we have reason to believe that the present arrangements could be greatly improved without much additional expense. We recommend that, with this object in view, steps should be taken to establish a liaison with the Department of Statistics at Ottawa, whose great experience both in the collection of statistics and in their presentation in proper form would, we feel sure, be of the utmost value to Newfoundland. With the expert guidance thus available, much useful information could be prepared for the benefit not merely of the new Government but of the public at large.

Need for Public Libraries in the Island.

  628. We were much surprised, on our arrival at St. John's, to find that there was no public library in the capital. The need for such a library need not be stressed. The provision of a public library is wholly beyond the immediate resources of the Government, nor could we expect that an appeal for subscriptions for this purpose could be launched with success at the present time. We understand, however, that one of the great foundations in the United States has declared its readiness to participate in a scheme for the establishment of a library, and we hope that full advantage will be taken of this munificent gesture.

  629. We think it important also that public libraries should be established in the larger outports as opportunity offers. We are glad to know that some progress has recently been made in the establishment of travelling subscription libraries, and we hope that arrangements of this nature will be extended and developed at a cost which will bring books and periodicals constantly within the range of all classes of the community.

Harbour Breton (Southwest [sic] Coast), n.d.
Photo by Holloway. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207), Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
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Harbour Breton

General.

  630. The objectives of the new Government will be two-fold, (1) immediate, (2) such as can only be attained over a period of years. The immediate objective must be to rescue the country from the peril of collapse which now threatens to overwhelm it, to check the process of deterioration, to instil new heart and confidence in the people and to bring about conditions in which, provided that they play their part, they will be assured at least of earning a livelihood. When the first objective has been achieved, the next objective must be the formulation of a long-range plan, based on an exhaustive study of local conditions, past and present, and calculated so to strengthen the economic position of the Island, by the creation and development of new sources of wealth, as to prevent the recurrence, at least in such extreme form, of those periodical visitations of pauperism and distress which have been so marked a feature of its history.

  631. So far as the immediate objective is concerned, we have not concealed our view that the people in certain parts of the country are now living in conditions of such extreme misery and want that there can be little hope of restoring them to useful activity unless they are first assured of essential food and clothing and enabled to recover their vitality. The distribution of such supplies must inevitably throw a great burden on the shoulders of the less unfortunate members of the community, and care must be taken that such relief measures as may be adopted do not wear the same aspect of paternalism as those adopted in the past. What is needed is the inculcation of a new morale and a new spirit of self-reliance; it would indeed only intensify the difficulties of the country if the restoration of the physical condition of the people were to be unaccompanied by a change in mental outlook, and if, as a result of past experience, they were to continue in the belief that it was the duty of the Government to satisfy their wants, without any corresponding exertion on their own part. The obligation to provide for themselves and to assist one another in raising the general level of the community must be firmly impressed upon them.

  632. We have already indicated that it is in the revival of the fisheries that the chief hope of the country lies and that it is to this end that the energies of all classes of the community should de devoted. It is our firm conviction that the fisheries can not only be made remunerative both to the fisherman and the exporter, even in the present depressed conditions of foreign markets, but can become, with an improvement in those conditions, an increasing source of wealth to the country. It is our hope that the series of recommendations which we have made in Chapter VI will give the country a lead towards the rehabilitation of its primary industry on modern lines, and thus enable a new level of general well-being to be achieved.

  633. In the realisation of the second objective, we recognise that the new Government will be faced with a difficult and complex task. We feel sure, however, that by the mobilisation and intelligent management of the resources of the country, the prevention of waste, the reorganisation of the public services, the encouragement of new developments which will conserve rather than dissipate the natural assets of the Island, the initiation of a fur-bearing industry on a comprehensive scale, the lowering of unduly high customs duties and the termination of uneconomic enterprise, the task before them will be found possible of accomplishment. Much will depend in the first instance on the recommendations of the expert advisers whose assistance we have suggested should be invoked in various subjects, such as Forestry, Agriculture, Geology, and the Railway and Transport services of the Island, as well as on developments in the fields of Education and Public Health. Subject to the reports made by these experts, to the success of the initial steps taken in rescuing the people from their present hopelessness, and to such measures as may suggest themselves to the new Government after a close survey of conditions in the Island, we consider that the new Administration should aim at the formation of a plan, extending over a period of years, which will not merely consolidate the progress achieved under its direction but will lay the foundations for the gradual building up of an economic structure which will be more solid and durable and less open to sudden damage than that under which the country has so far lived, and which it has so often, but by misguided measures and in vain, sought to strengthen.

Image description updated May, 2004.



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