May 10, 1911

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

It does not conduce to a good feeling in the service if it is considered that these advances are made for reasons that cannot properly be described as in the public interest. There ought to be some explanation of these

apparent discriminations when they are brought to the attention of the minister.

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CON

Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAKE.

While the Civil Service Act was under discussion, the members of the government expressed the hope that in the near future it would be possible to bring the officials in the Customs and Post Office outside service under the Act. Has the minister gone into this question, and when does he think he will be able to submit a proposal of this kind to the House.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

I have discussed that question with the officers of the department frequently, and we desire if possible to bring about such an arrangement, particularly in larger cities. There are, however, difficulties in working out a scheme owing to the nature of the work and the classifications now existing in the inside service. I do not believe it would apply to small places at all because a man who passed the examination, say in Ottawa, would not care to be appointed to a position in some small and remote port. In the large ports it would be a great benefit to the department. Men would be sent to us by the Civil Service Commission because they had taken the highest examinations. Whether we can accomplish this next year I do not know, but we would like to have something of the kind. It would be a great relief. The appointment of clerks in the inside service by the Civil Service Commission has been a marvellous relief in the work of the department.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

How are such officers appointed to the outside service?

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

We try to find out as w'ell as we can how they are fitted for the positions.

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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

If this is such a marvellous relief for the inside service what objection would the minister have to having appointments made by the Civil Service Commission to the outside service?

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

There is no objection except the difficulty of working out a scheme which we are trying to overcome.

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CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

How many clerks will be affected under this arrangement, and how will it money out?

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

My deputy is in Montreal to-day, and so I have not with me any calculation of this kind. Of course we could not tell how much money would be involved as we could not say how many would pass the examination. The increases would be made in the regular yearly instalments of $50 or $100. The increases will not be very great in the aggregate and individually they seem very small.

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CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

When -was the last increase given to the officials in the out-ports?

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

I think there was a very general increase last year, where the salaries were low. In certain ports in the maritime provinces, the department gave only $300 to $350. That seems a very small sum, but there is very little work. In the outports from $300 to $500 is the usual payment. In Manitoba and the other provinces the salaries are higher. Last year we tried to bring all the low paid officials to about as high a salary as we intended to carry them.

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CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

The minister will not suppose that I wish to oppose increases to any one in the service of the department, because I entertain no such idea. I think that in many instances they are underpaid. I thought that it would have been well for us to know just how many persons would be affected by this legislation. If a large business house were proposing anything of this kind, a memorandum would be submitted to the directors or shareholders showing just what burden would be involved. I understood from the minister that an increase was provided for the out-port officers last year. I find by referring to the Auditor General's Report for the year ending March 31, 1910, that a number of officers of customs in the outports are paid very small salaries. Take the county of Rigby in which I am more particularly interested.

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LIB
CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

The outports of the port of Digby, and the port of Weymouth. Some of the officers are paid as low as $200 per year, and some $300. These officers have to be always ready to discharge the duties devolving upon them. These duties keep them at home to a certain extent as they must be on hand when required, and they discharge their duties very faithfully. The trifling salary of $200 is absolutely insufficient for any man supposed to discharge the important duties which devolve upon a customs officer. I should be very glad to know that an increase had been given them, but on referring to the last Auditor General's Report I see that their salaries remain the same. Many of these officers have been in the employ of the government for years. I am not speaking of any one county or province, because "the salaries in general of these men are insufficient. If substantial increases, as proposed by these resolutions, aTe to be given, to clerks who may have been in the service only three years, something should be done for these other officials who have faithfully dis-Mr. PATERSON

charged their duties during five, ten or fifteen years, and who have had no increase, although the cost of living has increased in these outports m the same ratio as in the cities and towns. When the minister brings forward a resolution of this character, he should be prepared to give information as to the number of officers who will participate in the increase, and the exact sum to which these increases will amount in the way of an additional burden on the country.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

As regards the class to which my hon. friend has referred, I could not give them any expectation of any increase. The view we take is that they are at their maximum.

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CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

From him who hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath, and to him who hath shall be given.

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

No, but there must be some regard for the work done. At many of these outports, the salary of $350-

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CON
LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

Perhaps if these men were given the revenue they collect instead of a salary, they would prefer to take the salary. What is the department to do in a case of that kind? The revenue is not large, but pressure has been brought time and again to have officers at certain places to enter and clear vessels. Perhaps in some of these places there are not over ten or twelve entries and clearances in a year, and the revenue is not as large as the salaries paid. These men were simply appointed for the convenience of some shipper, and they have scarcely any work to do. In some cases, the customs officer will be a farmer. When a vessel is loaded with timber, its master goes to this officer and gets a clearance from him, and it may not take half an hour to give it. These ports are simply for the convenience of very few people, but once you establish an outport, you cannot close it without arousing great feeling. Of course these outports are a great facility to some shipper. Instead of having to sail ten or twelve miles to a port where we are able to pay a collector a proper salary, the shipmaster can get his papers on the spot, and that is why he wants a man there. These men do not live on what we pay them. They are engaged in other duties, and their duties as customs officer probably do not take up an hour of their time. In the Dominion we have more ports of entry, not relatively, but absolutely, than the whole 90.000,000 people in the United States have. We are beset on all hand to open up new ports; and when my hon. friend talks about the $300 man. and the $200 man, and what a

hardship that low salary is, there are plenty of men in these places only too glad to take the job at the same money if the present incumbents would resign. What is a business man to do under these circumstances? There are men who would be only too glad, if they would send in their resignation, to take their job at the same money. What is a business man to do? You must conduct things on business principles.

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CON

Clarence Jameson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. JAMESON.

That is exactly what I suggested-the minister should do things in a business way, and let the committee know what the effect of this will be in dollars and cents, and number of officers affected.

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May 10, 1911