May 28, 1913

CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

That is only another instance of the many inequalities and anomalies in the Civil Service Act which we found when we took it over, and which I think we must find some way of remedying in the near future.

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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

There is another inequality shown in the supplementary estimates. It is proposed to raise the salary of the assistant deputy minister of another department to the same figure as the Deputy Minister of Public Works. In the supplemen-taries there is an item to increase the salary of the assistant deputy minister and secretary of the Department of Justice to $5,000. That, I suppose, will be explained by the Minister of Justice when we come to it, tout I draw the attention of the Minister of Public Works to this item. He has told the committee that there are inequalities which need to be adjusted, and that item is one of the most glaring of these inequalities. In connection with the remark that it would be difficult to retain the services of the Deputy Minister of Justice unless his salary were increased, as to which I express no opinion at the moment, I would point out that a few years ago,

when a similar state of things occurred with reference to the Deputy Minister of Railways and Canals, the 'Government allowed the gentleman then occupying that position to resign from the seervice rather than grant him an increase in salary.

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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I think that is not a

good argument to make, that the deputy minister will not stay in office unless his salary is increased; I think it is a kind of hold-up of the minister. If the present deputy minister does not want to stay in office I think the minister will he able to find many other men who could occupy the position. By increasing the salary of the Deputy Minister of Justice by $3,000 we are going to create discontent among the other deputy ministers. They will feel that they are underpaid, and there will be disorganization of the whole service. My hon. friend from Welland (Mr. German) says that the deputy minister takes briefs before the Privy Council. I know he has done so in the past, but I understand that in the most important cases the department has engaged the services of eminent counsel. The reference to the Supreme Court in the marriage case was in the hands of eminent counsel from Toronto and Montreal, and when the case was argued before the Privy Council those counsel went there. The case was not in the hands of the Deputy Minister of Justice. The department pays every year large sums of money in legal fees for the employment of counsel to plead either in the Supreme Court or before the Privy Council, and I think there is no necessity of increasing the salary of the deputy minister by $3,000.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

I may be allowed to say a word in this respect. I know that we cannot discuss the question of salaries generally at the present moment; but, starting from the head of this House-I occupied that honourable position for a short time- I want to point out the anomaly that the Speaker is paid $4,000 and is supposed to entertain people from the whole Dominion. The Clerk of the House is paid $5,000. The Clerk is not sufficiently paid; so far as the Speaker is concerned, I leave the House to judge. We have in the Minister of Justice one of the most gifted men in his profession, but he will receive $3,000 less than his deputy. What impression will this create in the public mind? What about the members of Parliament who spend five, six or seven months of the year in Ottawa attending to public business? I Came the other day from western Canada in company with one of the highest officials in the service of the Dominion, who had been attending to public business in Washington. He expressed the opinion that a member of the House of Commons of Canada, if he was fit for the position, was the equal of

a member of Congress in the United States. The members of the Administration know that members of Congress in the United States are paid much more than members of the House of Commons in Canada. He expressed the opinion that $5,000 would not be too much to pay a competent member of the House of Commons to remain here for six or seven months of the year and work for his constituency and for the country. I am speaking Tather freely, because I have been here for fourteen years, and I have seen the House change complexion two or three times. It has come to this, that only the rich man or the very poor man can afford to come here. It is impossible for the active business man, or the active professional man to come here and spend six or seven months of the year. The rich man can afford to come as a luxury, or as an honour; but the poor man, if he retains the confidence of the electors, is in fifteen or twenty years practically out on the street. There have been men occupying seats in the House of Commons, who to-day would be in the poor house but for the fact that they are paid, in one way or another, from the public treasury, i think the Administration should look seriously into this question and begin at the top. If a member of the Cabinet, with the responsibilities that rest upon him, is worth anything to the people he should receive a larger salary than that which is paid to him at the present time. The present salary is ridiculous. There is any number of third-class officials in some of the large firms in Montreal who receive a larger salary than that paid to ministers of the Crown in Canada. I should be glad to see the Minister of Public Works and his colleagues take up this question, face it, and solve it satisfactorily, beginning with the members of the Cabinet, senators, members of the House of Commons, going down through the Civil Service, and giving proper payment to those who give proper service.

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LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE:

I want to say a word on this question as to the increase of salary. The Minister of Public Works has said that it would not be possible to increase the salary of the Deputy Minister of Public. Works on account of the Civil Service Act. It seems to me that that should have (been looked into before, because I claim that the Public Works Department is the most important department of the Government, and if anyone should get an increase of salary it is the Deputy Minister of Public Works. I was never against an increase of salary. It has been my ambition, sffice I was able to work, to increase my salary. Of course there will be some members who believe they are not earning more than they are getting, in the way of an indemnity, at the present time. I claim I am earning more,

and it seems to me that the Government should take into consideration the question of increasing the indemnity to some extent, so as to make it reasonable, and so that our position would be looked upon as a reasonable one. There are many men who can well afford to come here, men with large businesses of their own, or men who are favoured with fortune but I am not in that position at all. Probably I am in a better position to discuss this question than some members, for this reason: the year before I came here the indemnity was increased from $1,500 to $2,500, and during the first session I was in the House a Bill was introduced for the repeal of that increase. I did not vote in favour of the increase at that time, not being in the House, but I spoke against the Bill. for the reduction. I stated then, as I state now, that I do not know of any man with common sense who would be against an increase of the indemnity, or salary. I call it a salary, because it is _ a salary, however small it may be. Having heard rumours around the corridors, I was expecting that an increase would be agreed upon this session. It might be said that an increase would not be popular throughout the country. I for one am willing to defend it in any part of the country where I have a chance to do so. We are worth more money than we are getting to-day, or we are worth nothing at all. We spend six or seven months of the year legislating in the interests of the people, and safeguarding the interests of the country, and I believe that the sessions cannot be any shorter than six months in the future. The country is growing all the time, and the development of the country forces on legislation from year to year in increasing volume. With the very best will on the part of the members to expedite business, I do not see how it is possible in the future, having regard to the growth of the country, to have shorter sessions than the one we have had this year. In these circumstances, I do not see how any members on either side of the House can say they are willing to come here, and spend six or seven months for the salary they are receiving to-day. It seems to me that the Minister of Public Works should do something this session, and I hope the rumours I have heard around the corridors will materialize before the session is finished.

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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I regret to say that the tendency is to Increase the salaries of the better fiaid officials, of the higher officials, while the Government will employ a messenger in a department at $500 a year. How can you expect a man to support a family on a salary of $500 a year ? The officer who gets $5,000 a year is eon-Mr. VF.RVILLE.

sidered worthy of an increase of salary, and one who" gets $7,000 a year wants it increased to $10,000 a year.

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LIB
LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I do noc agree with the hon. member for Frontenao. Every man should have the privilege of getting married. Why should you penalize a man because he has not the education to occupy a higher position ?

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LIB
LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I think the tendency is to increase the higher salaries and not to consider the officials who are not well paid. They may not be underpaid for the work they do, but still they have to live, and they have to support a family, and they should be paid enough to enable them to do so. There should be greater equalization in the salaries of the service. So far as the members' sessional indemnity is concerned, it has always been considered an indemnity, and not a salary. If it were a salary I would be of opinion that- it should be increased, but as it is an indemnity, so far as I am concerned I shall be against any increase.

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CON
LIB

Roch Lanctôt

Liberal

Mr. R. LANCTOT (Laprairie-Napierville):

Mr. Chairman, I did not intend to take part in this debate concerning the increase of salaries; but as some hon. members to the left have taken this, opportunity to ask for an increase of parliamentary indemnity, I must say, first, that as far as I am concerned I who, at the last election,, preached for economy and for a plebiscite on any new expenditure, I would like the members from the province of Quebec, especially, to say if they are in favour of an indemnity of $4,000 to $5,000 per session. Should such an increase be granted, it would mean an additional expenditure of $817,500 to pay the members of the Lower and of the Upper House, which sum represents a capital of $20,000,000 at 4 per cent interest.

I think that, with this sum of 20 millions, splendid results could be achieved for the welfare of the country, which would be much more expedient than to increase the salaries without consulting the people. 1 may say that, for my part, I shall be against those increases of salaries as long as the people have not been consulted.

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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

Would the minister explain the increase in the number of employees in his department from 311 last year to 336 this year?

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

The principal increase is in the architect's department. Heretofore it has been the practice of the Public Works Department to let out the planning of public buildings in different parts of Canada. We are now endeavouring to have a sufficient number of architects and draughtsmen to carry on the work here. The architects have studied out the plans upon which public buildings best meet the public service, and we can draw the plans better, cheaper and more efficiently in the department than we can have them prepared by letting them out.

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CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. BOULAY (Rimouski):

Mr. Chairman, I have heard the remarks which the 350i

hon. member for Laprairie-Napierville (Mr. Lanctot) has just made. I must tell him that, for my part, I have already stated what I think about this, subject of parliamentary indemnity.

When we were discussing the question of granting an increase of salary to the Chairman of the Railway Commission a week or two ago, I declared that those salaries were not in proportion with those paid to the members of this House; that it was ridiculous to pay us $2,500 a year when we have to remain at Ottawa six or seven months in the year, looking after the business of the country, and then taking the balance of the year to attend to public business in our respective counties. Moreover, I spoke to several members from the province of Quebec about this, and I must say that those Whom I have spoken to are all in favour of increasing the indemnity.

I have heard the remarks made by the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil), and I must say that they bear the stamp of common sense.

Really, this increase of salaries in behalf of the deputy ministers cannot be justified. The intention is to give them a higher salary than the ministers themselves are getting; this seems to me extraordinary. After all, it is the ministers who are responsible for the administration of the country's.business, they are called upon to meet the requirements of the position, and I say that the salary of a minister, at $7,000 a year, is not proportionate at all, if a deputy minister's own salary is raised to $10^000. It is proposed to raise the salary of the Deputy Minister of Justice to $10,000 a year because of his legal experience and of his being obliged to go to England and plead the Government's cases.

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LIB
CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOULAY:

I would admit that increase if he paid, his travelling expenses and if he got no salary here while he was absent; but I think his salary runs just the same.

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LIB
CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOULAY:

If those travelling expenses are paid outside of his salary, I think that is a little too much; we should be more cautious.

I knpw an employee who works here for the country at the rate of $3 a day and who does the work of a man whose salary is $2,000 a year. That employee does the work just as well as the other and never theless he only get $3 a day.

I wonder if the increase of salaries can warrant a better service. It is always easier

to reduce the salary of a man than to raise *it. It seems to me, therefore, that we should stop and think before increasing the srI^tIbs

As I have said a couple of weeks ago, when the question of increasing the salary of the Chairman of the Railway Commission was under consideration, we, members of *this House, do not get more than $2,500, and we are here for six or seven months in the year, as the hon. member for Maison-neuve (Mr. Verville) has remarked. Moreover, when we are 'back at home we keep busy for the rest of the year, working in the interest of our counties as much as we do here during the session. Therefore, it is for all the year that this indemnity is given.

As to the public servants in general,

,-our every day's experience is there to back my statement-we seldom find them at their office more than four hours a day. Besides that, they get one month or two months' vacation every year, and their salaries run just the same. As for the members of this House, they get no holidays.

I am against this idea of increasing the salaries, especially those of high-graded employees. As for the employees of an inferior rank, many of them are not sufficiently paid as compared with the others, and, moreover, they are the ones who do the hardest work. Therefore I believe that we should not vote that increase of salary which it is the intention to grant to certain public employees.

Eastern departmental! block, Ottawa-addition, $220,000.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

This includes a revote

of $io0,000 to make provision in accordance with the estimates of the chief architect for building the extension to the eastern block.

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May 28, 1913