The first phase of industrialization during 1891 and 1911, attracted a steady supply of rural Canadians to the cities. Although industrialization did provide thousands of jobs, it did not create an egalitarian society. Instead, a new social class was spawned: the working poor. These families faced inequities in the labour force, weak government protection, and social discrimination. Industrialization had caused Canadian cities to double, which brought wealth to the society, but that wealth was not shared. (Finlay, J. L. and Sprague D. N. 296)
Disadvantaged by low wages, the poor, unlike the middle class, had no opportunity to progress, so the beliefs of these rural Canadians were tested as shown:
For generations, they made their living from farming or from providing the services required by the farming community. Their philosophy was that all people had the same opportunities for a lifestyle of reasonable comfort, fair compensation for their work, economic and social advancement through personal effort. They lived by the belief that honest hard work and thrift would lead to success, and that poverty was the "just reward" for laziness. (296)
The industrial environment did not support these convictions; they became workers-for-wages and were controlled by the whims of an industry. Two external forces drove the relentless
threat of poverty that became a fact of life. First, nearly half of the population was classified as unskilled labor (296) and this over-supply of workers enabled employers to set pitifully low wages. To illustrate, in 1911, the father of a family of five worked a six-day week and earned $10.00. However, at that time, according to the figures published by the Canadian Department of Labour, an average family of five needed $9.64 per week. (297) The leftover was a pittance of 36¢. Second, wage earners were at the mercy of fickle industrial conditions that could reduce a worker's hours and his expected wages ...