March 18, 1920

UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

These qualifications are necessary in order to enable them to translate from one language into another in a style that will be accurate and suitable in literary form. At the same time I think my hon. friend will not dispute the fact that there are degrees of efficiency and qualification even among translators. Nature and long experience will doubtless qualify one man much better than another.

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L LIB
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Long experience will greatly help one man over another.

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L LIB
UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

A distinction might

properly be drawn between translators that have just entered the service and are doing work not of great importance and translators of long experience engaged upon more important work.

I do not think it is necessary to add anything further. I only wished to make those general observations with reference to the work of re-classification lest there should be a misunderstanding owing to the remarks of my hon. friend.

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte √Čthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. A. C. ETHIER (Laval-Two Mountains):

Let me draw my hon. friend's attention to the fact that there is a difference between the translators of debates and the translators in other departments. The debates translators are under the control of the House of Commons and are deait with by the Debates Committee. When a vacancy occurs examinations are supposed to be held under the supervision of the .Chief Translator. Some years ago when I was a member of the Debates Committee it used to meet regularly but of late I have not heard of the committee holding any sittings. It seems to have vanished.

Now, to come to my point. If the debates translators are under the control of the Speaker, how is it that the so-called experts in classification claimed the right of classifying those officials? Have they a right to usurp the authority of a committee of this House and to classify employees who are specifically under the control of Parliament? All the other members of the iCivil Service in the various departments are under the authority of the -Civil Service [DOT]Commission, but the translators and the reporters of the debates, I repeat, are under the control of this House, and I think I am right in denying to the so-called experts any power to interfere with the Debates

Committee. There is great confusion in regard t* the classification of the translators and official reporters of the House of Commons and of the Senate, and it should be cleared up.

My hon. friend has just reminded us that when the Hon. Mr. Maclean presented the (Classification Bill last year he stated that the civil servants would have an opportunity of stating their grievances to an Appeal Committee of the Civil Service Commission. Those men are very anxious to know what remedies they now possess in regard to this faulty classification, and before the first of April, when the classification is to take place, I think the Government should take the steps mentioned by my hon. friend for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp), with whose remarks I am perfectly in accord. I have myself on the Orders of the Day a motion for papers in regard to the same matter, but I did not expect this question would he brought up to-day. I have not one or two, but fifty, complaints from civil servants with respect to the reclassification.

In regard to the scientific men in the service, I wonder how many analysts are now employed in the Department of Inland Revenue? If I am well informed, twenty of the most efficient have resigned and only four now remain; those who have left the service having been offered better salaries outside. The classification of their positions was simply ridiculous, and I am confident that the classification of other /branches is equally ridiculous.

I endorse the remarks made by my hon. friend for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp), and when the opportunity comes next week I shall be glad to furnish to this House complete information in regard to the way this classification has been worked out, and the injustice which is bound to follow by its application to the service.

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UNION
L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I must remind the House that the hon. member is about to exercise his right to close the debate, and if any hon. member desires to add anything to the debate he should speak now.

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE (Cape Breton North and Victoria)I have followed with a great deal of interest the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp) with reference to the Civil Service classification, I might remind him and other hon. members that we have been discussing this subject quite a number of times. I remember that about a year ago we appointed a committee to inquire into the Civil Service, and that

committee subsequently made a report. I am sorry to say that I do not think the Civil Service were able to get any great results from that committee. I have no doubt they worked faithfully, but their investigation was conducted more or less concurrently with the classification efforts of the firm brought from the United States, and I imagine the two bodies were working at cross-purposes.

Let me say to the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp) that the first thing that struck me as serious was what he declares to be the system of dismissals. I watched with interest the answer of the President of the Privy Council to that point, and, if I followed him correctly, I do not think he touched on it at all. If a man has rendered faithful service he had a right to expect generous treatment at the hands of the Government in regard to promotion and otherwise. I think if what my hon friend for Ottawa stated is correct-and I have no reason to doubt it; it is not controverted by any member of the Governments that men of the highest standing of their grade in the service are dismissed without any investigation whatever, except some man stepping into an office, where perhaps there are thirty men working, and, with his eye on one of them, tossing a cent and saying, "Heads you stay, tails you go out," -that appears to me to be a very poor system of dealing with such an important service. I do hope that if there is to be a certain weeding out of the department the greatest possible care will be taken and that some more reasonable system will be established and followed by the Government than that described by the hon. member. I must accept his description as "being correct, for I noticed that the hon. gentleman who spoke for the Government, and who is always ready to put forward everything that can be said in defence of the Government-

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Will the hon. gentlema-allow me? I do not think I should permit my hon. friend to make any such assumption. I did not speak on that point because I had not the details, but I am quite sure when the facts are investigated it will be found that every consideration has been given to retaining men in the service. In the public interest it is most desirable to release those whose services are not required. Where such men are released the Government has made provision for them and the House has voted money by way of recognition.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I do not think the

hon. President of the Privy Council has

any right to interrupt on that point anti for that reason. My hon. friend knows the rules that would govern if during the course of an address to a jury I stated that there was no evidence on a certain point, and the learned counsel on the other side stood up and said: "If the judge will allow me I am going out into the highways and byways to get evidence on that point, which I will produce the week after next." My hon. friend knows that in a case of that kind the judge and jury would have to deal with the matter on the spot, taking the evidence as it stood. In view of the fact that no remarks have been offered by the President of the Council to justify the course that the Government are taking in regard to dismissals, I do not think he was up to his usual form in interrupting me and stating that some day in the dim future the Government are going to do better; are going to adopt some other system that will be more humane in dealing with their servants. For the present, Sir, we have to accept the statement of the member for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp) and believe that this is the unsystematic, unscientific and improper manner in which the Government are dealing with their servants, with men who may be called workmen, because they are workmen in the service of the Government and of the country generally.

No one in this House who has had any experience in public life has any doubt as to why it is so extremely difficult to grade and keep graded the civil servants. When this Government came into office they dismissed 11,000 civil servants-at least, that was the record up to last year-and in their places appointed 24,000. Now, these 24,000 were dumped upon the deputy ministers, and the deputy ministers could not leave them standing on the streets or in the halls of the public offices; they had to put them somewhere-twelve here, ten there, five somewhere else, and absolute confusion was the result. Moreover, when we start to grade them, the men who are in charge cannot do it because there was no system about it; many were dumped into positions that were not required to be filled, simply because places hj,d to be found for men who were chosen by ministers for appointment, possibly in fulfilment of an ill-advised promise made before or during the election. That is why this classification has run beyond the power of the deputy ministers and why these outside men were called in to do the work.

Why, Sir, extraordinary positions have been given to men in the public service. I

was told the other day of a young fellow who shortly after this Government took office came to one of the departments seeking a position and bearing a letter from one of the ministers to the deputy minister. Well, there was nothing for him to do; the department was already overcrowded. However, there could be no such thing as the deputy minister turning down the recommendation of the minister, so this fellow was given a position. "What shall I do?" he said. "Oh well, we have nothing for you to do, but you can carry some books from this room to that room and carry them back; keep moving around from day to day and possibly something will turn up." After a few days this young man, who, having come from the country, was more or less conscientious and unused to such trickery, said to the deputy minister: "There must be something wrong; I find a fellow following me around all the time; no matter where I go this fellow dogs me continually; when T go to one place, he is there; when I come back, he is after me. I am not going to stay here." "Oh," said the deputy, "don't be surprised at that; you are all right; that fellow is your helper." When things are carried on in that way is it any wonder that it is difficult to grade the civil servants and to determine what wages such a man as I have spoken about should get, and what his helpeT should get?

-Sir GEORGE FOSTER: Would my hon. friend give names and dates?

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

It is entirely unnecessary to give names and dates.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

If you do not, you spoil the story.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

This has been going

on every day dor the last eleven years-at least since this Government came into power-and to give such a string of figures as this would involve would be confusing even to the astute and analytical mind of my right hon. friend (Sir George Foster). I mention only this instance; it will be sufficient to make my right hon. friend see that the difficulty has been that we have too many men and not enough places for all. When you have ten men whom you must dispose of in some way without dismissing them but have only one position to fill, the situation becomes a difficult one.

I can see no reason, unless it be timidity, why the Civil Service Commissioners should not have themselves determined the remuneration and avoided the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars involved in bringing people from a foreign country

to tell them what they should do and what wages the men should get. I think that is a remarkable display of weakness on the part of the Commission. The President of the Privy Council told us-he will correct me if I am wrong-that the gentlemen who compose this Commission came to the Government, said that they were overwhelmed with demands for higher salaries, and asked: " What shall we do? Shall we meet these demands by giving higher salaries than we think is right, or shall we stand by our own judgment?" Surely a Commission whose duty it is to select men for the public service and to designate proper salaries foi them should stand their ground, do their work, serve the country, or resign. But evidently the Government consented that the Commission should not discharge their duty and that they should, at the expense of the ratepayers of this country, send to the United States for a most expensive commission and have it sit here for months to tell them what they should do. That is, in effect, the declaration that was made by the President of the Council here to-day; there is no denying it. I cannot find any justification for the Government standing by an institution of that kind. Why, Sir, what can you expect from an institution of that kind? What decision, what judgment, w'hat organization can be expected from this Civil Service Commission, when they had not the sagacity or the backbone to decide how much salary this man, that man, or the other man in the public service should get? It is an evidence of frightful weakness; it is an indication that there should be some improvement along that line or that some other course should be taken by which civil servants may be protected and the treasury of the country looked after better than it is. There should not be more civil servants than are necessary properly to carry on the business of the country. There is plenty of room for men and women in other walks of life throughout Canada; there is sufficient demand for employment outside to let the Civil Service be relieved of the overwhelming burden which it now seems to carry, with unsatisfactory results to the Government and to the country. I again remind the member for Ottawa and the Government that the difficulties which they meet to-day in connection with the Civil Service are due to the wonderful promises that were made before and during the election of 1917. Civil servants were told that wonderful things were to come tp them by reason of this re-classification; and as a result, in the city of Ottawa itself there was an overwhelming majority for the Government, a much greater majority than had been the case in previous years. Civil servants were made to believe that the Government was to be returned to power, and that when it came back to power this re-classification measure was to be introduced and wonderful things would come to them. The Government was returned to power, the re-classification- took place; but the wonderful things have not come to the civil servants. Consequently, the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Fripp) and the Government find these chickens coming home to roost and these difficulties that now overwhelm them. But let me say that I hope a proper classification will be made and that the classification will be kept in order from year to year, from month to month and from day to day as men are coming into the service. If you go into any first class academy in any of the counties of Ontario or anywhere else, you will find that the principal of that academy has no difficulty in grading his pupils; he puts them into the proper places, because the grading is looked after systematically and properly from time to time, and the authorities have some conception of how that grading should be done. But if you take the whole ten or fifteen departments of any high school of this country and dump them together, the kindergarten with the high school pupil and ask a man to go in amongst them and grade them, you are asking him something that no human being can do. When, however, things are done properly, systematically and from day to day and as they ought to be done, there will be no trouble, and I would bring to the notice of my right hon. friend that if he will get out of this frightful muddle and get those departments into proper shape once for all, henceforth this Government or whatever Government may be in power in this country should see to it that no one is taken into the Civil Service who is not required; that if any one's services are required, he should be properly graded and put into the proper place, and that the country receives proper service for proper salaries paid.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Mr. Speaker, I rise only for the purpose of asking a question. Is it the intention of the Government to see that a classification is made of the employees of the House of Commons? I understand that the Civil Service Commission takes the position that it has no jurisdiction over the employees of either the Senate or the House of Com-

mons, and that the House of Commons should look after the classification of its own employees. 'If that be so, I would suggest the advisability of having a committee of this House appointed for the purpose of making that classification. It would not be fair to the members of this House and it would not be proper that such classification should-be made by any officer or set of officers and then submitted to the House for approval at the end of the session. Such a course would not be treating this House fairly, and I would, therefore, suggest that a committee be appointed for the purpose.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

Mr. SpeakerjMr. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is only by the unanimous consent of the House that the hon. minister can answer the question as he has already exercised his right to speak on this motion.

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L LIB
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I should much prefer that my colleague do so.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

I take it for granted that the House gives its unanimous consent that the hon. minister may answer the question.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

My information is not quite that of the hon. member. While I speak subject to correction, because I am not as familiar with this classification as I should like to be, my impression is that, under the Act of last session, the Civil Service Commission classifies the positions of the staffs of the Senate and the House of Commons. Then the classification is submitted to the Speaker for submission to and approval by the House. When that is approved, the classification will be applied to the Senate and House of Commons' staffs. But I shall be glad to look into the matter further and give my hon. friend fuller information, and it may be that it will be desirable, if not necessary, to have a committee appointed to deal with the matter.

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UNION

Alfred Ernest Fripp

Unionist

Mr. ALFRED ERNEST FRIPP (Ottawa):

Mr. Speaker, I just wish to make one or two observations in reply to the President of the Council (Mr. Rowell) who is not as well equipped with the facts pertaining to the matter as he usually is when he addresses the House: If I understood him correctly, he stated that the deputy ministers approved this classification. He must have forgotten that last session a deputation from the deputy ministers appeared before

f Mr. E. Lapointe.]

a committee of the Senate and protested vigorously against the classification as rendering the Civil Service inefficient. Amongst them was Mr. Boville, a most efficient servant in the Finance Department, who has since left the service, and one of his reasons for leaving the service-I do not think I am breaking any promise that I made to him when he told me-was that he found that under the classification of these so-called experts he had not the control over his department that he ought to have and, therefore, he could not remain in the public service. Another deputy minister is Mr. Newcombe, also a very efficient servant, and I think another is Dr. Coulter of the Post Office Department, and all these gentlemen protested vigorously against this classification as rendering the Civil Service absolutely inefficient instead of efficient as we all desire it to be.

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March 18, 1920