New Brunswick. Commission on Mothers' Allowances and Minimum Wage.

Abstract: Commission on Mothers' Allowances and Minimum Wage, 1924

On 4 July 1924, the Report on Mothers' Allowances, written by Dr. W. C. Kierstead, Chairman and Mrs. J. L. Sugrue, R. A. Frechet, F. S. A. McMullin, and Lewis Simms, was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The report included the text of the "Declaration of the Rights of the Child", adopted in 1924 by the League of Nations. The presence of the Declaration signaled the perspective that mothers' allowances were to be for the benefit of the child, not the mother. The report includes statistical results of surveys of needy mothers conducted in Saint John, Chatham and Fredericton.

Early in the report, the Commissioners were very clear in spelling out that mothers' allowances were not to be considered as mothers' pensions. In fact, the Commission made a special point of outlining what they perceived as the 'logical' danger of a maternal pension plan: such a plan "would only stimulate the production of the more shiftless members of the population -- the persons who too often need repression rather than stimulation of the productive instincts."

The authors of the 1924 report were very careful to describe which women would be eligible for the program. In a section called "Moral Qualifications for Allowances," the Commission set up guidelines whereby allowances would "provide for the economic support of only such homes as are worth maintaining". There were some less arbitrary eligibility requirements by which women could qualify for allowances. For instance, widows and wives of husbands who had been incapacitated by illness were deemed appropriate candidates for relief, though deserted mothers and unmarried mothers were not. As to the latter group of women, the Commissioners argued that paying allowances to unmarried mothers "would probably not have a wholesome social effect".


Kierstead, W.C.
Sugrue, J.L. (Mrs.)
Frechet, R.A.
McMullin, F.S.A.
Simms, Lewis

Documents Available for Viewing

Main ReportpdfHeader onlygif
Enabling LegislationpdfHeader onlyincluded with Main Report
Related Reports --txtincluded with Main Report

Bibliographic Information

View the file's header (TEI format) which contains bibliographic information about the print and electronic versions of the report of this Commission.