May 10, 1911

LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

It took him some years to get to the maximum.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
IND

Joseph Russell

Independent

Mr. RUSSELL.

As the Irishman said when he complained of the landlady's cooking: 'There's raisins in everything,' and the reason given for the increase to the inside service was the high cost of living, and that is just as good a reason for increasing the pay of the outside service. These officers are entitled to a substantial increase right away. If a man is at the head of his class for say eight years as it happens in some cases, i do not think they should now be compelled to work up to the maximum when they have been kept for so many years on starvation wages. At $50 a year increase, it would take them eight years to go to the maximum.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB
IND

Joseph Russell

Independent

Mr. RUSSELL.

And it is a very bad idea. I do not think the minister should take advantage of the fact that he has more applications for positions than he can take care of, to keep down salaries to the starvation point. The minister should pay an official what would be considered a living wage on which to maintain himself and his family decently. Hope is a very cheap commodity, and while men are not satisfied with the pay they get when they enter the service still they hope that in the future they will get a decent salary.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

I do not see myself how some of these men can live decently, and support their families on the pay they get, and we are trying to bring them up to about the same recompense they would get in other similar occupations in life. A minister cannot allow his feelings to sway him in such a matter. The hon. member (Mr. Russell) is a large employer of labour, and he pays his men well, and I have no doubt that his experience is the same as mine, and that he can get other men to work for a lower wage than he is paying his employees, but, because I thought I was paying more than-1 could get another man for, I would not allow the old employee to go. At the same time, if a business man found that when he was filling a vacancy there were fifty applications for it, and that they all were willing to work for less than he had been paying the former employee, would not that fact influence him in determining the wages that would be given? It is said that a minister should conduct the public business as he does his private business, and would the hon. gentleman (Mr. Russell) feel that he was doing justice to himself if he paid higher wages than dozens of equally competent appli-

cants were willing to take the position at? I know that if an employee of his were getting higher wages than he was absolutely certain he could get a man to do the same work for, he still would keep on the old hand, and usually business men are just and generous, and they follow that principle. But, if a vacancy occurred, the hon. gentleman would not feel it incumbent upon him to pay more wages than he was asked to pay. I think I am right in saying that there are many applications in for every vacancy as soon as the news can get out, and one cannot be insensible to that fact.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
IND

Joseph Russell

Independent

Mr. RUSSELL.

I think the government should set a good example in a case like this.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

The minimum salary of a collector is $300, and the maximum $4,500; what determines whether a man shall be paid $1,000 or $4,000?

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

The maximum amount mentioned by the hon. member is paid only at Montreal, and while we may advance the Toronto collector to $4,500 yet, the collections are larger at Montreal, and the collector there has been a greater number of years in the service. The collector at Toronto may be entitled to $4,500, but I thought I would not give it to him for a year or two at any rate, because I think a distinction should be made on account of Mr. White's longer service, and the larger port at which he is collector. The port of Winnipeg, and I think the port of Vancouver will by-and-by have to be considered. Ports like Hamilton and London and Halifax and St. John, and Quebec, perhaps, are pretty nearly all on the same range. Take, St. Thomas and Chatham and Guelph and Galt, and towns of that size, and the salaries range from $1,200 to $1,600, while at Brantford and Niagara Falls it goes up to $1,800. The revenue guides us in a measure at the inland ports, but in some maritime ports we may have no revenue at all, and yet the officer has a lot of work to do in entering and clearing vessels. There are outports established for preventing smuggling and so on. We may possibly, by and by, be able to get the salaries in ports such as the hon. gentleman has in his county up to about $2,000, but there is no maximum fixed. The department try to do justice between one port and another and are guided by the revenue, &c.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

There is no fixed principle on which salaries are determined?

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

The collector in my city, St. Thomas, receives a salary of 276

$1,600. The revenue there is now $300,000, and there are a number of outports. I think a man with the responsibility of handling that amount ought to get a larger salary than $1,600.*

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

If thi3 is allowed to pass, these questions, which are quite proper, can be answered when my estimates are up, and my deputy is here.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY.

I was slightly disappointed with these figures. Last year I made some observations with regard to the salary of the collector at the nort of Montreal, and I quite acknowledge that there was an increase of $500, although I do not pretend that this was in consequence of my remarks. The minister, by this resolution, is tying himself up so that for a long time to _come he cannot increase that salary above the present figure. I understood last year that the minister felt that the_ increase he was making in the salary of the collector at Montreal hardly adequately met the case. I do not wish to repeat what I said last year about the importance of Montreal and its immense business and revenue. It must be, remembered that previous to this increase the salary had stood at $4,000 for a long period of years during which all the expenses of living had increased in a very great degree. I think I am not being importunate in urging upon the minister that the increase of $500 hardly met the requirements of the case. The increased cost of living is not felt more keenly in any place than in Montreal, and the officer having the responsibility of handling the immense business at that port should be in receipt of a salary that would not be so utterly, and absolutely disproportionate to the salaries received by men in charge of large businesses, which would still be small when compared with the business to be supervised and controlled by the collector of customs. I need say nothing of the qualifications of the present incumbent, they are well known, and fully recognized, and I must add that what I am now saying, I say absolutely without any communication from him. I urge on the minister that the present salary of the collector at Montreal is utterly inadequate even to-day, and as this resolution will bind the department probably until a longer period of time than the lifetime of the present incumbent, I beg to respectfully urge on the minister the desirability of reconsidering this maximum amount which a collector may receive. I am sure that in this request I would be endorsed by the business community of Montreal generally without party distinction, and by hon. members of this House representing divisions in Montreal, or that neighbourhood. I understood the minister last year to say that the increase then given

*was the best that could be done for the moment, but that he did not take the position that that settled as a finality the proper remuneration of the office of collector of customs at Montreal. This is a glaring case of remuneration quite inadequate to the service rendered and out of all proportion to the office, and to its grave responsibilities. I certainly would be glad if the minister could see his way, if not to -an immediate increase, at least to reconsider his decision to tie himself up so as to make it impossible for a long time to increase this very inadequate salary.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

I think I am in duty bound to endorse the remarks of the hon. member for St. Anne (Mr. Doherty), as to the salary which is proposed to be paid to the collector of customs at Montreal. The importance of that port cannot be compared with any other port, and the efficiency of the services of the present incumbent is too well known for me to venture .to add anything to what has been said of the character of the work which has been performed for years past by the present incumbent. On account of the importance of the port of Montreal, on account of the efficiency of the service which has been done, and which is being done by Mr. White, the present incumbent, and on account of the cost of living in Montreal, I think that a salary of $6,000 should be considered the least which should be paid to the present collector. It is all very well to Propose general rules and general schedules of salaries for all over the country, but I think that the case of the port of Montreal is a very exceptional one, and the general schedule should not be made applicable to that port. There should be a proviso added to the resolution under which by way of order in council, the government could, after due consideration, in some way increase the remuneration of the present collector of customs at Montreal to at least $6,000. This view is held by all the people of Montreal, especially by the large importers. It is well known that the imports entered at the port of Montreal exceed $16,000,000 per year, which certainly warrants our paying a salary to the collector of that port of at least $6,000.

On that question, I would ask the Minister of Customs if he intends this session introducing legislation for the purpose of creating the office of deputy or assistant-collector. The creation of such an office has been asked for by quite a number of the large importers of Montreal, and it would go a long way to expedite the business of the port, and meet the convenience of the city. I think that a petition was sent to the Department of Customs asking the minister to create such an office, and I would like to know if he proposes doing so this Mr. DOHERTY.

session. I would again urge on the hon. minister to add another resolution to those proposed which would enable the government by order in council to grant to the collector of customs in the port of Montreal a salary somewhat adequate to the important position he holds, the efficient service he is rendering, and the increased cost of living. Such increase, I am sure, would prove to be fair and popular.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

As regards an assistant-collector, I am not disposed to regard with favour the proposal to establish such an office, and do not intend doing anything in that respect this year. As regards the collectorship the difficulty is this. I have nothing but words of commendation for Mr. White, the collector of customs at Montreal, and I heartily endorse everything that has been said in his favour. His record stands well with the department. In his conduct of the public business, the geniality with which he meets customers, and his ability in other respects make him a very efficient officer indeed, I think he has some of the most valuable traits a customs officer should have, and personally I would have no objection to making his salary larger. But there is one objection which seems to me insuperable. The commissioner of customs, who has to do with all the ports of the Dominion, Montreal included, gets $5,000. and I cannot see my way clear to put one whose work has to be supervised by the commissioner on an equal plane with the deputy head of the department. If the deputy head of the department were receiving a higher salary, that difficulty would largely vanish. It may not strike my hon. friend as important, but it does me. I do not feel that I could recommend the placing of any individual officer of any one port, however important-and Montreal is a very important port-on a par, so far as remuneration goes, with the commissioner who is responsible for the administration of the Customs Department throughout the Dominion.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY.

That only goes to show that the salary of the commissioner ought to be increased.

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY.

If we are to assume that the commissioner of customs is to be paid more than any collector-and the minister apparently admits that the collector of customs at Montreal ought to have a great deal more than he is now getting

Topic:   SCHEDULE 'B,' CUSTOMS.
Permalink
LIB

May 10, 1911