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Canadian Newspapers and the Second World War
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Canada and the War
Holding down living cost/price rises since the outbreak of war in Canada and some other countries - AN19920196-169 [PCDN=33-09-2011-0995-066]
Holding down living cost/price rises since the outbreak of war in Canada and some other countries

The War Economy and Controls: Wage and Price Controls

Prime Minister Mackenzie King was determined to avoid the problems of greed and inflation which had plagued Canada during the First World War. Using the powers of the War Measures Act, he established the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, with the aim of stopping prices and wages from spiralling out of control.

Initially, the Board did relatively little, putting on partial limits on rents, coal, sugar, timber, steel, milk and a few other goods. But in 1941 the cost of living began to rise sharply. In a radio broadcast, King announced a freeze on prices and the setting of levels for wages and salaries. The Chairman of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, Donald Gordon, became one of the most recognizable and powerful figures in wartime Canada. He used the radio himself to put his blunt message in front of Canadians: if their money was to keep its value, they must accept tight controls.

The Board built up a huge structure of 13 regional offices and 100 local offices, whose staffs were not always popular. Controls resulted in the shortage of certain goods and some poorly-made products reaching Canadians. But the cost of living, which had risen 17.8% from 1939 to 1941, increased only 2.8% from 1941 to 1945, the most successful record among all the major nations in the war.

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