Canada’s Response to the Great Depression

Looks at Canada’s social conditions during the Depression and how its government reacted to the crisis.

This paper examines the social conditions during the Great Depression and the government’s response, with particular emphasis being placed on Western Canada. The paper finds that an unfavourable market for staples in general, and for wheat in particular, placed Canada, and especially the West, in an extremely disadvantaged position. The paper then discusses how the collapse in the price of wheat on international markets revealed important inadequacies in the region’s economy and it resulted in serious hardships for its society. Another point this paper highlights is that there were limits to the government’s assistance, but there were also other policies introduced aside from purely financial assistance.
The Great Depression of the 1930s did not spare many in the wake of its destruction. Companies, countries and the common person alike absorbed financial loss and endured a depressed economic state to an extent that had never been seen before. While it is safe to suggest that most, if not all, areas of the world were adversely affected by such a situation, it seems equally apparent that certain regions experienced the difficulties of the Great Depression to a greater extent. Within Canada, the Western provinces experienced the detrimental effects of economic collapse perhaps greater than any other area of the country.
Leading up to the 1930s, the Western provinces were able to enjoy the fruits of substantial sales of staples, in particular the commodity wheat, within a world market which offered relatively if not extremely good prices. This led to a significant expansion of the regional economy as well as a period of substantial economic growth. However, when the market for staples collapsed on account of the Depression, the region was caught in a vicious circle as it became increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to redirect the economy and an increasing population placed a continual strain on rapidly dwindling resources.”