March 18, 1920

UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

No, they were not.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE CLASSIFICATION.
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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

They were here to advise and assist the Civil Service Commission in working out the reclassification-

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

-and that is what they have done. They continued their work during the year 1918 and the greater part of the year 1919. The hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean) laid on the table of the House last year the result of the reclassification up to date. He introduced a Bill [DOT] approving of that reclassification. That Bill was referred to a committee of this House for consideration and report. That committee of this House had Arthur Young and Company before them, they had all the information before them and after the committee had considered the matter they reported the Bill and the reclassification back to this House. With that report before it, the House passed the Bill. Whether that action was wise or unwise, this House is responsible for the principles embodied in that classification. This House adopted it and it is that classification that is being worked out.

One or two words with reference to certain other points which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Fripp) has raised because in respect to these he is under a misapprehension, as I know by reason of matters which have come under my observation in my own department. My hon. friend said that the method by which they collected information about the work of the public service was a card index, a card being sent out to each civil servant on which he should write out his

present position and the character of the work that he was doing. That is perfectly correct but it was required that the deputy minister or head of his department or branch should approve that statement before it came back to the Civil Service Commission. Whatever the definition of the duties of any man in the Civil Service might be, it only came back to the commission with the approval of the deputy minister or the head of the branch concerned. All the information that the Civil Service Commission has received has gone to it with the approval of the deputies or the heads of the different departments.

What was the duty of the-Civil Service Commission and their experts when they had received these cards defining the duties? It was to seek to classify them so as to secure a measure of uniformity in all branches of the public service. My hon. friend has referred to stenographers. Well, take stenographers; is it right that stenographers of the same skill and ability should be receiving $200 or $300 more in one branch of the public service than that same class of stenographer is receiving in another?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I refer to equal quality

of work in all branches of the public service. My hon. friend has taken stenographers as an illustration of the classification. They create different classes of stenographers with a different scale of remuneration depending upon their skill in stenography.

I have not the figures before me and I am not able to state the range of the salary among stenographers. I know there is a wide range. I think they start at $800 or $900 in one class and go up to $1,500, or something like that although I am not sure of the figures. There is a wide range between the lowest and the highest grade of stenographers. All stenographers in all branches of the service are classified on this basis. New stenographers coming in all come in at the same rate of pay in every branch of the public service. When stenographers in any branch of the service have attained a degree of efficiency which'entitles them to promotion to a higher class, they are promoted to that higher class. That is the principle which applies to other classes and branches of the service. The basis of the classification is that all employed in the public service should be paid in accordance with the character and quality of the work they do, not in accordance with the personal will or likes of any minister or any deputy minister or any member of Par-

liament; not according to their political affiliations and not necessarily according to their length of service except there is some advantage in length of service because there is a provision for annual increases in these different classes. The basis of the classification is payment in accordance with the value of the work done.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

And the ability of the

worker. Take the class that I have mentioned-stenographers. They cannot be appointed as stenographers until they have passed a qualifying examination which indicates that the person is qualified for the post. That is, when a stenographer first comes into the service all who enter are paid on that basis. After they have been admitted to the service and are doing more advanced work they are entitled to go into a higher class.

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Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. COPP:

Who examines them in the

case of the promotion examination? *

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

The Civil Service Commission is responsible for the examinations for promotion as well as those for entrance into the public service. T am quite aware that there has been dissatisfaction in the Civil Service in connection with this matter. It would be impossible that the situation could be otherwise with the classification of a service of 50,000 employees. It is only right that the House should know that if the Civil Service Commission, and if the experts, had been willing to give a general advance in salaries beyond what would have been justified, much of the opposition would have been removed. They came to the Government, submitted the case and said : " The fact is that tremendous pressure is being brought to bear upon us to move up the classes beyond what we think is right and in the public interest, and to move up salaries beyond what people could earn in similar positions outside the public service; it means the expenditure of public .money; what do you want us to do; the question of finance is peculiarly a matter for the Government, do you want us to yield to this pressure from the Civil Service and move salaries up beyond what rwe think is right and in the public interest or do you want us to do what we think is right.?" The Government said:

" Your duty is to do what you think is right in classifying the Civil Service of Canada and we will stand behind you in doing it."

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UNION

John Best

Unionist

Mr. BEST:

Did the Government do their duty by increasing the salaries of a number of people from $100 to $1,000 when this report was expected down at any moment? Was the Government justified in putting into the Estimates increases in salaries ranging from $100 to $1,000 a year for certain members of the public service when this report was expected down at any moment?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

There were in the Estimates, as my hon. friend (Mr. Best) has said, in 1918, or 1919-

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UNION
UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

-in the spring of 1919 before the classification had gone into effect, the names of certain officials appeared in the Estimates for increased salaries. I do not question what my hon. friend has said. Personally, I have no hesitation in. saying that I think the Government made a mistake in including any names' in the Estimates brought down in the year 1919. I think all should have stood over until the Civil Service Commission report was brought before the House. These, however, were very few; there were very few cases of that but I think we made a mistake when we did it at all. We should have left all o\ cr until the classification was brought clown-I have no hesitation in saying that. We are not infallible, we do make some mistakes and that is one that we made in connection with the Civil Service.

My hon. friend has referred to the question of the experts and the employment of experts is a difficult question. I know it because I have had difficulty myself in retaining chemical experts in the Food Adulteration Branch of the Department of Health. I was called upon to look into this matter by' reason of the difficulties arising in this branch of the service owing to the retirement of a number of men from the service. It was stated to me that the reason for their retirement was because of the unsatisfactory result of the classification. I looked into the matter, and I found the fact .to be that the re-classification provided a substantial advance for those men over the sala.v which obtained under the existing Civil Service regulation. But while the reclassification provided for an advance, the fact was that commercial institutions were in a position to pay them very much more than even the advanced figure, and as a result they left the Civil Service and accepted these commercial positions. Now it may be that the demand for expert service is so great at the present time, it may be that commercial institutions are in a position to pay so much for skilled and trained experts, that the Government of Canada must substantially increase its payment if it is to retain those experts in the public service. I want to point out, however that the responsibility for the existence of these conditions does not rest on the Civil Service Commission or the experts advising them. They did provide for a substantial increase over the salaries previously being paid. It may be, as I say, we will have to review the whole situation and provide for the payment of experts in the public service on a substantially higher scale than has been paid in the past, or the country may entirely lose the benefit of the service of such men.

Then my hon. friend has referred to the classification of the individual in the service. I may tell the House and my hon. friend, that the classification as framed and set out in the Act, or in the schedule to the Act, simply defines the different classes in the different branches of the service. To apply that classification to the existing service is a matter of great difficulty and in that application of the classification the deputies are all consulted and always consulted. The application of the classification is submitted to them and they are consulted with reference to it, but under the Act, final authority is in the Civil Service Commission. The Act of last session authorized the Civil Service Commission to review, or amend, or modify any of the classes provided for in the report laid before Parliament. Since that time the Commission has been busy reviewing the classification where complaint has been made, and I am glad to be able to inform my hon. friend that in the great majority of cases the result has been to give satisfaction to the parties concerned. A Board of Hearing has been formed consisting of two representatives of the Civil Service themselves, two deputy ministers and a member of the Civil Service Commission, which Board hears the complaints and appeals from the classification, and as a rule it is able to reach a reasonable degree of unanimity in its conclusions. The Civil Service Commission has always acted upon its findings and when the decisions arrived at come to the Governor in Council, I believe we have invariably approved them. In cases where particular individuals are dissatisfied with the application of the classification in a department they may appeal direct to the Civil Service Commis-

sion and the Commission hears that appeal and disposes of it. The members of the House will realize that in classifying *such an enormous service mistakes are bound to occur. I have had matters brought to my attention where I think mistakes did occur and where a better result might have been secured, but those are all being rectified. The Civil Service Commission is dealing with the matter, and I believe is earnestly, faithfully, and effectively working out the application of the classification solely from the standpoint of the public interest and what is absolutely necessary for the Service.' We should give the Commission a chance to -do so, and give them a thorough opportunity, in the reclassification of a public service as extensive as ours is in Canada, to prove its worth and show what the results will be. While in my own department there have been some applications of the classification which I think could be improved it has not at all shaken my faith in the merits of the system, in the wisdom of Parliament in adopting it, nor in the beneficial results that will come to Canada when it is thoroughly worked out, and I believe it will mean a great deal to the eflicienry of the whole service.

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Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers):

My hon. friend stated just now that he did not have full information about this matter. Could he give me any information with respect to the rule followed in classifying translators, for example, and state under what classification these gentlemen come? .

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I am sorry I cannot answer my hon. friend's question because I really have not the information except that I know there are different classes of translators. What the limits of the classification are I cannot say, but "I shall be glad to get the desired information for my hon. friend.

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Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

My reason for asking the question is because of the difficulty, if not impossibility, of correctly classifying translators. They must be first class men possessing not only a thorough knowledge of both languages but considerable literary and scientific attainments.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I agree with my hon. friend that a translator must not only be well educated and thoroughly understand both languages but that he should have literary qualifications 'also.

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March 18, 1920