March 18, 1903

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I know that the leader of the opposition is away on im-

portant business. I do not know tbe assistant leader, and 1 do not know whether our hon. friends on tbe other side are ready to go on with the estimates. We are in their hands to proceed or not as they think best.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNORSHIP OF ONTARIO.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I understand that they are not ready to go on with the estimates.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNORSHIP OF ONTARIO.
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The PRIME MINISTER.

Then I move that tbe Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNORSHIP OF ONTARIO.
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Motion agreed to, and Committee rose and reported progress. On motion of the Prime Minister, House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.



Wednesday, March 18, 1903. Tbe SPEAKER took the Chair at Three o'clock.


REPORTS PRESENTED.


Report of the Civil Service of Canada for 1902.-Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Report of Secretary of State for 1902.- Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier.


INTERPRETATION ACT-SUING RAILWAY COMPANIES.

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Mr. F. D.@

MONK (Jacques Cartier) moved for leave to introduce a Bill (No. 18) to amend the Interpretation Act.

He said : This is the same Bill which

was introduced last year, and only passed its second reading. The object of the Bill Is to make railway companies liable for damage, subject to the civil law in each of the provinces. The Bill was suggested by a judgment of the Privy Council referring to a decision in the province of Quebec under the Civil Code of that province. I will go into further details when the Bill is advanced a further stage.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNORSHIP OF ONTARIO.
Subtopic:   INTERPRETATION ACT-SUING RAILWAY COMPANIES.
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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


QUESTIONS.

PAY OF POSTMASTERS IN MANITOBA AND NORTH-WEST TERRITORIES.


Mr. LaRIVIERE asked : 1. Has the honourable the Postmaster General received the following communications 7 Winnipeg, Man., February, 1903. To the Right Honourable Sir William Mulock, Postmaster General. Ottawa. Sir,-We, the undersigned accounting postmasters of Manitoba and the North-west Territories, beg to bring to your attention the following statement of facts regarding our work which goes to show that the remuneration is most inadequate, in the hope that you may be able to grant us substantial and immediate relief. We do this the more hopefully in view of the stand you have taken on the question of the hours of labour, etc., of the working man. 1. The postmaster is responsible for the safe handling of many important letters, and valuable parcels. In this country large amounts of money formerly sent by express, are now sent by registered mail, to wheat buyers, to enable them to carry on their business. In many places branch banks remit to, or receive from, the head office, large sums of money. This increases the postmasters' responsibility, and whore help is employed, necessitates care in the selection. The money order business necessitates the handling of large sums of money for the miserable pittance of 25 cents per $100. The amount of stamps kept on hand must always be large with the source of supply so far away. In no other line of work would persons be held responsible for the proper handling of such large amounts, with the same possibilities of irregularities and losses, without remuneration at least from five to ten times greater than the postmaster receives for his money order work. In many cases there is added responsibility to the handling of customs parcels for which there is practically no remuneration. The postmaster is expected to provide a roomy, centrally located office, without any regard to the rental which that office would command if leased for other purposes. The necessity for the correct and prompt despatch of all mails, regardless of hours of arrival and departure, is in many instances a very grave responsibility. Understanding chat the present basis of remuneration has been in vogue for a quarter of a century or more, we would respectfully point out various increases in work which clearly show that although it may have been sufficient then, it is utterly inadequate now. Firstly-In connection with newspapers and periodicals we think it a conservative estimate to assume that a family will now receive an average from six to eight times as many periodicals as a family would be receiving twenty-five years ago. Secondly-The use of the mails as a means of distributing advertising matter is a practice of recent years entirely and the quantity handled is simply enormous and constantly increasing. These increases affect both local distribution and assorting of matter for forwarding to outside offices. Thirdly-The recent reduction in the rate of letter postage necessitates (in the matter of Canadian and United States postage) an increase of fully 50 per cent in the number of letters handled before an increase of revenue can accrue, or an increase of salary be hoped for. In the case of British and some other lines of foreign postage, the increase in the number of letters must be 150 per cent before we have established a basis for any possible increase in salary. A working out of the figures in this connection will establish that (he postmasters are bearing from 30 to 40 per cent of the expenses of the reduction so appreciated by the public. This appears to be an altogether undue proportion. The introduction of the postal note system has increased the amount of labour out of proportion to the revenue attached. This method of remitting small amounts (chiefly to 'he city offices) has largely curtailed the sale of



stamps which were formerly used. At offices where customs parcels were handled and distributed by mail to smaller offices, stamps are usually sent in payment of duty, and cash is i emitted to port of entry, again curtailing the sale of stamps received from the department. 2. An examination into the method of handling customs parcels and the remuneration (even where any is allowed) will reveal the fact that the work actually required to be performed, which is considerable, is practically unpaid for. This is one of the points which we desire to bring to your attention, that uu-remunerative work of this sort is being multiplied while the revenue of the office is being held down by reduced rates of postage. 3. Iu a number of the offices, besides keeping the office open throughout the regulation hours, the postmasters are compelled to await the arrival of a late evening train and again in some instances have to get up at five or six o'clock in the morning to despatch a mail, thus imposing unduly long hours of service without any allowance for any class of assistance, to say nothing of a competent assistant. In some offices, owing to the arrival of several different mails the public is entitled to call and demand individual attention several times during the day, whereas the basis of remuneration makes no special provision for this. In places where tri-weekly trains carry the mails, the postmaster is compelled to remain eleven hours a day for six days a week and provide (if he would give the public anything approaching satisfactory service) for a portion of three days a week, one or more duly qualified assistants. His allowance is inadequate for his own support at present cost of living, thus providing nothing for the payment of assistants. 4. In view of the amount of mail matter to be re-sorted and forwarded, the forwarding allowances do not begin to pay for the work done or the extra office room required. Another department with a deficit. 5. The allowance for rent, fuel, and light is decidedly inadequate. In practically every town where the post office is kept in a separate compartment, the room occupied could be leased for a rental in excess of the full allowance for rent, for heating and for lighting. In the town of Morris, the postmaster is allowed $100 for rent, fuel and light. For less space ir. the same building he receives from the Merchants Bank $350 a year for rent, alone. At Melita the postmaster cancelled a lease bringing him a net annual rental of $180 to use the building for post office purposes on an allowance of $125 for rent, fuel and light. Other similar examples could he cited. Fuel and light are costly here. 6. In the matter of securing proper assistants, we could point out that labour readily commands far larger remuneration in any market than it did a few years ago. To have experienced help available is a severe drain upon the limited exchequer of the postmaster who is unfortunate enough to require it, as nearly all do. Even where help is not regularly required, competent assistance must he had if the postmaster is ever to seek recreation or relief from duty. 7. There is another matter which affects postmasters in the west more particularly, namely, the increased cost of living. This has frequently been brought to the attention of yourself and colleagues in various ways, and we note that already you have conceded the point as in the case of the 20 per cent increase Mr. LaRIVIERE. allowed the letter carriers of Winnipeg. In our opinion this does not represent the actual amount of difference, but is a recognition of that difference. In all lines the cost of living has advanced during the past years, while the postmasters are receiving less pay for more work. 8. A comparison with salaries paid in other departments of the public service and even in other departments of the postal service give an idea of our disadvantages. For example. First-class railway clerks receive $960 and mileage, second-class clerks $880 and mileage. In the city of Winnipeg, the assistant postmaster gets $2,000, first-class clerks, $1,500, second-class, $1,320, third-class, $880, and letter carriers, $720. We do not think these are too highly paid, hut an office with a revenue of $2,000 not only absorbs all of one person's time, but requires an additional clerk at least a portion of the year. The postmaster of such an office receives for salary, commissions and allowances an average of less than $700 or less than half the amount received by a first-class city clerk, $100 less than a second-class railway mail clerk, and a trifle less than is paid to the city letter carters, and out of this modest income he must employ whatever additional help is required and furnish a suitable office and office equipment. In most cases his hours are longer and his responsibilities greater than those of any of the officials referred to. In one town where the train arrived late and departed early, the postmaster until recently received $3.50 per month for overtime, while the railway agent received $19 a month extra. In view of the conditions and facts set forth above, we would respectfully suggest the following changes as tending to bring about a redress of our grievances :- 1st. That the straight salary allowance be based on 50 per cent on the first $1,000 worth of stamps sold, and 40 per cent on all additional sales. This would barely off-set the loss resulting from the reduction of letter postage. 2nd. That in Manitoba a special increase of at least 20 per cent be allowed to cover extra cost of living. 3. That the allowance for rent, fuel and light be doubled so as to provide a reasonable rent for the office, and a provision for the cost of light and fuel in this country. 4th. That the money order system be simplified so as to lessen the amount of work performed for the small remuneration allowed and also to increase its popularity with the business public, who now object to the restrictions hedging it around. 5th. In addition to the regular and general scale of allowances we would request, that a special allowance be granted for each extra mail which tends to bring the public again before the wicket for individual attention during the day. That the forward allowance be materially increased to distributing offices. That a special allowance be given to postmasters who are compelled to work before 8 a.m., or after 7 p.m. Among the mechanical industries the special allowance for overtime is very marked. That in the case of offices where mails are so infrequent as to have large quantities of mail matter delivered *t the office at one time, so that the public convenience really requires the employment^ of one or more assistants, an allowance be given towards the payment of such assistant or assistants. 6. In addition to the above we feel that there are a number of cases of special minor grievances which we cannot enter into in detail, but in which we think that a little



investigation would show that redress could be effected so as to relieve the postmasters concerned without in any way impairing the efficiency and safety of the public service, which grievances have probably continued to exist because they have not been brought to your honourable attention. And we would respectfully urge that the above matters be duly considered and that a large measure of redress be granted in the very near future. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.


MANITOBA AND NORTH-WEST ACCOUNTING POSTMASTERS ASSOCIATION.


Supplementary suggestions passed by executive. 1. That all accounting offices be given an allowance for rent, fuel and light. 2. That twine, mucilage, pens, ink, pencils, etc., for post office use be furnished by the departrfent and not at the expense of the postmaster as at present. 3. That the department make it more clear to all publishers that newspapers must be suitably folded and that they must be addressed plainly. That where labels are used they must be In large clear type, and that if possible uniformity of colour in labels be secured. 4. That a full list of " Suggestions to the Public " be printed by the department and supplied to all postmasters for display in their offices as tending to make it clear that certain regulations are found necessary by the department and are not based on the caprice or convenience of the postmaster. For instance, that stamps and money orders may not be purchased during the distribution of a newly arrived mail, and that money orders and postal notes are not available for purchase after the registered mail closes for an outgoing mail. Also some suggestions as to the age of children who are to be considered as proper persons to receive mail from the wicket. 5. That when instructions are sent out for the weighing of all mails that facilities for such weighing be afforded by the department. 6. That in view of the large sums of money at times in the mails in this country and hence often stored in the post office, and in view of the value of the stamps and the importance of the books now to be kept that safes be provided for accounting postmasters or an allowance be granted to pay for use of same when provided by postmaster. 2. Have the requests and suggestions made in these two documents been considered ? 3. Is it the intention of the government to propose such amendments to the law as will remove the cause of complaint ?


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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Muloek).

Such a petition has been received and is under consideration at the present time.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MANITOBA AND NORTH-WEST ACCOUNTING POSTMASTERS ASSOCIATION.
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TRENT VALLEY CANAL.

CON

Mr. WARD asked :

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. Has the Department of Railways and Canals issued an advertisement for tenders for the construction of any portion of the Trent Valley canal, between Hastings and Trenton ?

2. If so, when ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   TRENT VALLEY CANAL.
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March 18, 1903