October 7, 1903

QUESTIONS.

RAILWAY SUBSIDIES.

CON

Mr. WILSON asked :

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. What amount of bonuses or subsidies have been voted by parliament each year to railways during the years 1900, 1901 and 1902 ?

2. How much of the said bonuses or subsidies has been paid during the said years, and up to 1st September, 1903 ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY SUBSIDIES.
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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

This question, and also questions 5, 6 and 8, which relate to either railways or finance, I would ask the hon. gentlemen to let them stand, and I will have the information on the next question day.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY SUBSIDIES.
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RURAL MAIL DELIVERY.

CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON asked :

Is it the intention of the government to give any relief to the people living in the rural districts, by giving to them rural mail delivery ? If so, when may the people expect the said service to commence ? If not, why not ?

Topic:   RURAL MAIL DELIVERY.
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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Mulock).

This question is engaging the consideration of the government.

Topic:   RURAL MAIL DELIVERY.
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MEMORIAL FROM NORTH-WEST POSTMASTERS' ASSOCIATION.


Mr. LaRIVIERE asked : 1. Has the following memorial and supplement to the same, from the Manitoba and North-west Accounting Postmasters' Association been considered by the Honourable the Postmaster General ? * Winnipeg, Man., February, 1903. To the Right Hon. Sir. William Mulock, Postmaster General, Ottawa. Dear Sir,-We, the undersigned, accounting postmasters of Manitoba, 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 hours of labour, &c., of the workingman. 1


LIB

Hon. Mr. FIELDING. (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

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 the branch banks remit to, or receive from, the head office large sums of money. This increases the postmaster's responsibility, and where 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 26 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 through 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 aud prompt despatch of all mails, regardless of hours of arrival and departure, is in many instances a very grave responsability. Understanding that 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 is a conservative estimate to assume that a family will now receive an average of six or eight times as many periodicals as a family would be receiving twenty-five or thirty years ago.

Secondly.-The use of the mails a,s 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 the sorting 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 fifty 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, an

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 the city offices) has largely curtailed the sale of stamps, which were formerly used. At offices where customs parcels are handled and distributed by mail to smaller offices, stamps are usually sent in payment of duty, and cash is remitted to port of entry, again curtailing

the sale of stamps received from the department. ...

2. An examination! into that 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 unremunerative work of this sort is being multiplied, while the revenue of the office is being held down by reduced rates of postage.

3. In 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 allowances 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 (if he would give the public anything approaching satisfactory service), to provide, 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 in 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 be cited. Fuel and light are costly here.

fi. In the matter of securing proper assistants, we would 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 be 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 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 few 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 mail 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-carries, $720. We do not think these are too highly paid, but an office with a revenue of $2,000 not only absorbs all of one person's time, but requires an additional c)erk 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-carriers, 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 offset 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. 3rd. 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 fuel and light in this country. 4th. That the money-order system be simplified, so as to lessen the amount of work to be performed for the small remuneration allowed, and also to increase its popularity with the business public, who now object to the restrictions hedging it round. 5th. In addition to the regular and general scale of allowances, we would request that a special allowance bo 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 at 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.

6th. 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 tljink 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.

Topic:   MEMORIAL FROM NORTH-WEST POSTMASTERS' ASSOCIATION.
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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, &c., for post office use be furnished by the department, 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 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 the postmaster. 2. Is it the intention to accede to the request of the association ?


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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Mulock).

This memorial has been received, and when the supplementary estimates for the post office are under consideration I will be prepared to discuss this question.

Topic:   MANITOBA AND NORTH-WEST ACCOUNTING POSTMASTERS' ASSOCIATION.
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MAIL CONTRACT-BALACLAVA TO OWEN SOUND.


Mr. THOMSON (Grey)-foy Mr. Taylor-asked : 1. Who has the contract for conveying the mails from Balaclava to Owen Sound ? 2. What is the contract price ? 3. Was it the lowest tender ? If not, why was not the lowest tender accepted ?


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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Mulock).

The answer to this question is prepared, but I do not find it in my desk. Speaking from memory, the con-Mr. LaRIVIERE.

tract for conveying the mails from Balaclava to Owen Sound was made with the old contractor at the contract price of $250 a year. The next tenderer, whose name I am not sure of

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CON

George Taylor (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

Better let the question stand.

Topic:   MAIL CONTRACT-BALACLAVA TO OWEN SOUND.
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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I think I am giving the whole information. The second tenderer and the lowest tenderer was, I think, a man named Hill, at $250. The next one above him was the old contractor at $270 odd. The department decided to accept the lowest tenderer, and in accordance with the usual .practice the papers were handed to the officer to be completed. But on inquiry it was found that the lowest tenderer was a man advanced in years, about 73 years of age, and reported upon as decrepid and becoming too feeble properly to discharge the service. Accordingly the service was offered to the former contractor at the price of the lowest tenderer, and he accepted it. Therefore, the contract was made with him.

Topic:   MAIL CONTRACT-BALACLAVA TO OWEN SOUND.
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WEIGH MASTERS FOR GRAIN.


The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved that to-morrow the House go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution : Resolved, that it is expedient to amend the General Inspection Act, and to provide for the appointment of weigh masters for the weighing of grain in any inspection district east of the inspection district of Manitoba, and for their remuneration by fees or otherwise. Motion agreed to.


October 7, 1903