MACDONELL (South Toronto) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 113) to amend the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, 1907.
INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT AMENDMENT.
The Bill which I have the honour to introduce is a short one. It seeks to remove some of the imperfections and inaccuracies of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1907, which have been revealed during the two years in which the Act has been in operation. The amendments are, very shortly as follows: The Bill seeks to amend section 15 of the Act which is a section dealing with the procedure for the reference of disputes to boards and the manner in which the application to the board must be made. The amendment seeks to put the men in the same position in regard to the notice as the employers are under the Act as at present. The Act as at present requires, in the case of the men making a demand for a board, that they shall have convened meetings and obtained authority to enable their officers to say that a strike has been decided upon in the absence of their demands being acceded to. This amendment seeks to make it unnecessary to hold these meetings for the purpose of authorizing the officers to make the necessary declaration. It is reported that a very great deal of time is wasted and that in certain cases thousands of dollars are unnecessarily expended by the men being convened and holding these meetings at which the required authority is obtained. The amendment seeks to put the men on the same basis as the employers in that regard. The second amendment is simply desired to increase the compensation awarded to the members of a board of conciliation. It has been manifest during the reference of disputes to boards which have taken place under the Act that the board sits sometimes almost day and night continuously. It sits well into the night in
order to accomplish a settlement, and the amendment proposes to increase the compensation from $15 to $25 a day and to put all the members of the board on an equality with regard to compensation. The chairman now receives $5 more than the other members. As all the members of the board perform practically equal service and as they all sit the same length of' time it is believed that the compensation shall be identical. Then, the Bill seeks to amend section 57 of the Act in some important respects.
That section is the section requiring the condition of the parties to remain unchanged pending proceedings before the board, and it also requires that employers and employees shall give at least 30 days notice of an intended change respecting conditions of employment in the matter of wages or hours. It is confined to disputes arising in connection with wages or hours, but the Bill extends so as to make it include any intended change with respect to any condition of employment. If this amendment carries, the notice will not only require to be given with respect to changes desired by either party with respect to wages or hours, but also as to any other condition of employment; it being felt that many others of the conditions of employment are just as important to the parties concerned. Section 57 is also sought to be amended by compelling the party who gives the notice to apply for a board of conciliation in the event of the other party not accepting the contemplated change, so that whether eitheT employer or employee seeks to alter existing conditions of labour by making some change and gives notice to that effect, if the other party does not acquiesce then the onus of obtaining the board is on the party who seeks to make the change and has given notice. As the law at present stands it permits either party to do that and it has not been found that it works altogether equitably. I think myself that the onus, as in the case of every other dispute, should be cast upon the party who gives notice of the change. Then again section 57 says that where a dispute has been referred to a board, until the dispute has been finally dealt with by the board neither the employers nor the employees affected shall alter the conditions existing with respect to wages and so forth. The change contemplated by the Bill is intended to prevent a change in the conditions of labour taking place at any time after the giving of the notice. At present the section permits the employer or employee to change the conditions after the notice has been given and before the board has been appointed. The parties are practically at issue when the notice has
been given and it is felt by many that after notice has been given and when the parties are practically at issue, no change in the conditions should be permitted until the dispute is dealt with and disposed of by the board. At present changes can take place at any time before the board is constituted, but this amendment will cover the whole period of time and prevent any change in the conditions of labour taking place between the initiation of the notice and the final disposition by the board.
As the hon. gentleman read his Bill I would be inclined to think it comes within the prohibition respecting money Bills. I understood the hon. gentleman to say it would increase certain allowances and expenditures. We can see as to that before the Bill reaches a further stage and I do not wish to press the point now.
The minister is quite right with regard to one section of the Bill.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
COLD STORAGE IN HALIFAX.
Mr. A. B. CROSBY (Halifax).
Before the orders of the day are called I desire to ask the Minister of Agriculture if he has received any communication from the commercial committee of Halifax, a body composed of members of the city council and of the board of trade, with regard to the establishment of a cold storage in that city. I understand that a communication has been addressed to the minister inclosing a resolution which asks the government not to take up the question of cold storage with any company until the commercial bodies of the city of Halifax have approved of a charter which they consider will be in the best interests of the city.
Hon. SYDNEY FISHER (Minister of Agriculture).
I have received a communication from the board of trade of Halifax as well as other communications from that city and from various persons in Nova Scotia in regard to this matter. The communication from the board of trade requested me not to come to any conclusion unless the board of trade of Halifax approved the company. I replied that I could not pledge myself to that, but that any recommendation from such an influential body as the Halifax board of trade would receive every consideration from me before I arrived at a decision.
My understanding is that they desire to have an opportunity of approving of the charter, not of the company.
I did not understand it so.
RAILWAY CROSSINGS IN THE WEST.
Mr. WILBERT McINTYRE (Strathcona).
I wish to ask the Minister of Railways whether he has received any representations regarding the width of the openings at private railway crossings? As Die minister is well aware there will come into being hundreds of such crossings in the west this year. The Act provides that the maximum width of such openings shall be 16 feet but the fact is that a great deal of the farm machinery now used in the west cannot pass through such an opening. It is contended that the maximum width should be 18 feet. In view of such representations I would ask if the minister intends to bring in legislation to remedy this defect in the law?
Hon. GEO. P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways).
I have just received a communication from the chief of the Board of Railway Commissioners with reference to this matter but I have only had time to glance over it. I should judge however from the communication that legislation in this respect is not necessary. With his usual practical turn of mind the chief commissioner has already prepared a draft order with reference to the width of openings at crossings, and fences, and gates, and other matters in connection with the railways in the west in particular. This draft order he is sending out to the different railways and he will give those interested an opportunity to be heard at a meeting of the board in Ottawa in May next. I think it is quite safe to say that the order will provide that the openings shall be at least 18 feet wide.
DEPARTMENT OF MARINE AND FISHERIES INVESTIGATION.
Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
I would ask the Prime Minister *whether he will be able to carry out what was understood on Wednesday last when he said that he would place his policy in connection with the report of Mr. Justice Cassels before the House not later than to-day.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
The order in council has just been placed upon the table.
DISMISSAL OF INTERCOLONIAL EMPLOYEES.
Mr. A. B. CROSBY.
I wish to ask the Minister of Railways whether he has heard anything about the dismissal of a number of freight handlers in the city of Halifax and if so would he state why they have been dismissed. I am credibly informed that after the dismissal of these men some of whom have been engaged on the Intercolonial Railway for the last five or six years, others were taken on in their places.