June 3, 1921


House again in committee on Bill No. 122, to amend the 'Civil Service Act, 1918, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.


L LIB

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

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

When this Bill was last before the committee, clause 1 had been read and was being considered. Mr. Euler had moved to strike out the words "nor in the public interest," in the fourteenth line of page 1 of the Bill. The question is on the amendment.

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L LIB
UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

On what day was that evidence given?

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

On Wednesday, May 11. This evidence is to be found in the Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, No. 5. To proceed:

Q. If you were asked-in case you were to be relieved of some of the work-if you were asked what portion of it did you think you could best be relieved of in the interests of the Service, what would you recommend?

We must not forget that these questions were based on the effect of section 38 of the Civil Service Act. The witness answered :

A. I would recommend that portion of the service that is less workable under our procedure. If it is found impracticable to get good results from any class of our work, that is the class I would recommend to exclude. It would not be necessary to exclude by a new Act of Parliament.

Q. Would you include the major portion of the outside service, for example?-A. That is not necessary.

Q. Postmasters, for example?-A. Well now I take it that the grounds on which postmasters are asked to be removed from the jurisdiction of the service are not valid grounds. If it is for any reason Parliament desires to remove the appointment of postmasters from the jurisdiction of the commission except that our machinery has fallen down, that we cannot cope with it, or on account of too long delays that impair the efficiency, if it is on any other grounds than these, take it away and we wont object, but what the commission objects to is this, to have assigned as the reasons for the removal that we cannot cope with the situation.

Q. You dont admit that?-A. No, I don't admit it.

Q. What I was trying to get at is, if it was decided the commission was overloaded, which portion of your work would you give up with the least disadvantage to the public service in your opinion?-A. Well, it would have to be demonstrated to the commission what particular classes it is found impossible to work under our procedure, and if we can be shown evidence to that effect we will voluntarily go and ask the Government to exempt that class from the provisions of the Act under section 38.

A direct question was asked the witness on page 121:

Q. Having regard to the preservation of the principles upon which the present Civil Service Act is based, namely, the elimination of political patronage, do you think, Dr. Roche, that the exclusion of postmasters, labourers, professional, scientific and technical officers from the jurisdiction of the commission would largely nullify the object of the Civil Service Bill?-

A. I would say if that clause passes in its present form it would mean driving- a coach and four through the Civil Service Act.

Q. It would hiring back the old conditions? -A. To a large portion of the service.

In other words, it would re-introduce the principle of political patronage which the Civil Service Act was intended to abolish. The chairman of the commission goes on to say:

It would be very materially abused and enlarged, and I am afraid it would be a constant source of irritation between the deputy heads and the commission by reason of this man and that man claiming to be a technical man.

Q. So this Bill will act as a repeal of the Civil Service Act to all intents and purposes? -A. I would say its abuse would result in that.

A question was asked of the witness as to how many classes of the Civil Service had already been exempted fr'om the operation of section 38, and he made the following answer:

I cannot recollect all the classes, but the whole of the Department of the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment were exempted in so far as their temporary appointments were concerned because it was a temporary department, and we recommended owing to some of the difficulties we were having in temporary appointments away from Ottawa to the Governor in Council to exempt this department for the space of two years. Now the Governor in Council cut that date down for one year, made it one year. That expired this spring, and we recommended an extension for another year, and I believe they extended it for another year. Another department was the Soldiers' Settlement Board; for a similar reason it was cut down to one year, and extended another year this spring. There have been isolated positions where open competition was impracticable. Any class of positions that we saw it was demonstrated to us by the department or departments were impractical of being filled under the competitive system we have recommended exemption of those positions, and they have been exempted under the section of the Act.

So that there was no necessity at all for withdrawing section 38 of the Civil Service Act from the powers of the Civil Service Commission.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Would the hon. gentleman maintain, in the case of the Department of Soldier Settlement and the Department of Soldiers* Civil Re-establishment, that it was "impracticable" for the Civil Service Commission to appoint stenographer's, clerks, accountants, and other members of their staff at Ottawa?

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

According to the evidence of the chairman, and the Order in Council, which authorized the exemption in regard to these two departments, it seems that the commission found it impracticable.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

It was not.

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

Then why did the Government accept their report and grant the exemption?

Mr'. CALDER: The only authority under the law which the commission could recommend an exemption was on the ground of impracticability. We all realize that in the case of these two departments, the commission could not deal with them, where staffs were being built up rapidly, but it was not on the ground of impracticability. As a matter of fact, both the commission and the Governor in Council broke the law in that respect-to meet a practical situation.

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

We ar'e not responsible

if the Government broke the law.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

We are trying to put

them in a position where the law would not be broken.

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

The facts are there; they were expected, and the chairman of the commission clearly states that where it was demonstrated that any positions could not be filled practically under the competitive system, they could recommend the exemption of them under the Act. And when they deem fit, under that section of the Act, to exempt or except from their jurisdiction such and such classes of civil service positions, they used that provision and were ready to use it, and they say it was not incompatible and not outside their capacity to deal with the labourers, the postmasters or the professional men in regard to appointment, or increases of salary or other things. I may as well.answer the questions I put, and it will be the beginning of my remarks. What was the purpose of the original Bill? We understand very well that, with reference to manual labourers, postmasters in small towns or offices, and perhaps technical officers, it is quite difficult for the commission, especially in the case of manual labourers, to appoint men who have been on the farm, working in the bush, with the engineers on the surveys and so on, but this has been cleared up by the evidence which I will read in a few minutes. I will give my personal opinion. When I first saw that Bill exempting from the Civil Service authority those three classes of civil servants, I believed that the object in view was in relation to the coming election. In taking such action we are putting aside the principle of the original Civil Service Act of 1908, and we are going back to political patronage and those manual labourers, postmasters, or professional officers, being taken out of the jurisdiction of the Civil

Service Commission, would have fallen again under the political patronage of the party in power. This is being done this session. The next election, coming next year or next fall, there will be political patronage in the hands of the Government which has prepared that Bill, according to my view only for the purpose of taking that political patronage in relation to these classes away from control of the Civil Service Act. Everybody knows that in the past on the eve of elections moneys are voted for public works all over the country. The government votes money for buildings here and wharves there, and so forth, and, having the power to appoint those manual labourers, to appoint postmasters, then on the eve of an election they would not have to go to the Civil Service Commission to appoint their men, and probably the candidate of the Government would have the political patronage. That was the intention of the Bill at first, but it was not passed, and the whole section was dropped by the Civil Service Commission after the evidence of Dr. Roche and others. I will quote the evidence of the director of the Experimental Farm, Mr. Archibald, the evidence of Dr. Coulter, deputy minister of the Post Office Department, the evidence of Mr. Johnston, deputy minister of Naval and Fisheries Department in a few minutes. Mr. Archibald, of the Department of Agriculture, stated very clearly in his evidence, in regard to the manual labourers of the farm: We need not go to the commission, we have the power to appoint temporarily for a month or so, a temporary employee, and after that month we refer that employee to the Civil Service Commission, and they issue a certificate authorizing us to employ that man permanently. He declares positively he had no trouble in the administration of the Agricultural Department concerning the experimental farms. He had no trouble since the law has been passed, and the service is as good as it was before. So that there was no harm in the exercising of discretion of the Civil Service Commission under section 38 in that special department. And it was the same in the others. Dr. Roche was asked:

Q. To what extent can you carry that matter of exemption?-A. Wherever under any provision of the Act it is shown to be impracticable to have appointments made in open' competition, we have the power to recommend to the Governor in Council the exemption from that particular clause of the Civil Service Act.

Q. Could you, for example, carry it into effect with regard to the entire staff of the department, if you desired?-A. Yes. Well, of course, the Act provides now for the exemption of railway employees, and also for appointments on ships.

Q. But you have additional powers beyond that?-A. Yes, we have under that same section 38.

Q. Is there anything at all in the service, excluded from your control, with regard to exemptions?-A. We have just two of those departments, and a number of different positions which it was found impracticable to fill.

This word " impracticable " or " practicable " seems to have been mixed up with the word " possible " by the hon. minister in his remarks. I do not know if he did it intentionally but he was playing on words. I think he knows the difference between " practicable " and " possible." The hon. minister quoted from the evidence: Mr. Foran in giving evidence mentioned, for example, the appointment of a stenographer in Vancouver. Mr. Foran was asked:

In connection with the foreign appointment I presume after this all came into force the commission felt it had to carry out the law?

And Mr. Foran answered, " Absolutely." Then the minister went on to say:

What did this mean? It meant simply that when we passed the law two years ago, if a trade commissioner in Melbourne wanted a stenographer in his office, he had to apply to the Civil Service Commission in Canada, and the Civil Service Commission in Canada had to go through all the rigmarole in order to appoint a stenographer away off in 'Melbourne.

And he speaks about clerical appointments in South America, Australia, South Africa. He says it is impossible. He says, " Well, yes, it may not be possible to put in force. It might be impracticable to put in force that section 38 in regard to those appointments out of Ottawa, but it is not impossible. It is possible, but it being declared impracticable they fall under section 38, which gives jurisdiction to the Civil Service Commission to declare it impracticable, and also gives the permission to the department to appoint that agent in South Africa or England, or that clerical man in Vancouver, without having the authority of the commission. That is clearly put before the House by the evidence which has been given.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Taking the case of our chief astronomer in Canada, there is only one man in the entire service that holds that position; would the hon. gentleman say that it is either " impracticable " or " impossible " for the Civil Service Commission to make that appointment? I claim that it may not be in the public interest that the Civil Service Commission

should undertake that appointment, but it is both practicable and possible that they might make the appointment. Thera is the distinction I tried to draw. Take the illustration we had before the committee, where the Department of Public Health now is looking for a research man to carry on medical research work. There will be only one man appointed. I claim that it is in the public interest that the department itself should make that appointment, and that it is neither impracticable or impossible for them to make that appointment.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Unionist

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax):

That would Jge true of every appointment.

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UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

I think there are several positions in the Civil Service which they should not fill, which I do not think it in the public interest that they should fill.

"""" Mr. ETHIER: In regard to that class of exemption, one of the chief reasons given by the minister was the delays which on account of section 38 occurred in the appointment of civil servants. Here is a question put by Mr. Mackie:

Take, for instance, a mining rush up into a portion of the country under the jurisdiction of the Dominion fire rangers; it is found that a fire warden is immediately necessary in that district for safe-guarding from fires. If the department had to make application through the Civil Service Commission for a fire warden, and two or three months elapsed before the appointment was made, what is liable to happen in that country as the result of the delay?

That is a very reasonable question. This is the answer made by Dr. Roche:

-A. Evidently you are not acquainted with the provisions of the present Act. The department can put on a man to-day and keep him there for thirty days without our permission at all.

That is the law.

It is only after the employment has lasted for thirty days that we are asked to furnish a certificate. As a matter of fact, we can extend that time. In emergency appointments away from Ottawa-

And here is the point that concerns appointments in Australia, and other distant parts. What does Dr. Roche say:

In emergency appointments away from Ottawa the Civil Service Act provides that the department shall have the right to put on a man immediately, so that they do not have to wait.

So the reason given that delay in appointment caused inefficiency in the public service falls by this declaration and by the Act. I wish to quote another answer by Dr. Roche, in regard to the supposed facts alluded to by Mr. Mackie:

By Hon. Mr. Calder:

Q. What provision is there in the present law regarding- that?-A. Section 38 provides-and I am speaking in effect now-that where it is impracticable to apply the provisions of the Civil Service Act, the Civil Service Commission shall recommend to the Governor in Council the exemption of a particular class. I use that as an illustration to show the Commission is not grasping unnecessary work. Goodness knows, if they took away the whole outside service it would be a relief to us, but it is the principle of the thing we think would be unfortunate, but under that section of the Act the Commission found it would be better from the standpoint of the public service, rather than have constant irritation and friction going on between the department and the Commission, that the temporary appointments in connection with the Soldiers' Settlement Board should be removed from the operation of the Civil Service Act for two years. We recommended that until they could get down to their permanent establishment. The reason we did that was because the offices out West were taking on men and making promises of salaries that were beyond the salaries provided in the Civil Service Act, and we did not wish to be responsible for this.

The trouble did not come on account of the Act, but it came on account of the lack of co-operation between the Civil Service Commission and the deputy heads of those two departments.

They would take on men without knowledge of their qualifications at all, so that we recommended to the Governor in Council the exemption of these employees, and we did the same with the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment.

Those are two illustrations where the Civil Service Commission came to the conclusion that on account of such appointments being made under those circumstances it was impracticable to apply the law, and they r'ecommended the exemption of those two departments also. I continue: '

If it is found that there is any other class where it would be better for the service to be dealt with in this way, where it is impracticable or practically impossible to apply the Act, we would only be too pleased to recommend the exemption of that class under that section of the Act, and it does not require an amendment to the Act at all.

Am I not right in stating that this Bill is altogether useless and unnecessary when the chairman of the Civil Service Commission has given such evidence? The re-' port should have been based on his evidence, but it is not. Dr. Roche continues:

You may say, why have you not done that in connection with the postmaster?

That is a just reflection on the Bill'.

Well, because we have not discovered that any fault was found by the department, or that our system is not practical and working out to advantage. If it had been otherwise we would have asked for the exemption of the postmaster. It is only necessary to state that out of some thirty-eight hundred postmasters

appointed by the Civil Service Commission since February, 1913, there have not been complaints, directly or indirectly, made to the Civil Service Commission in more than one per cent of the cases. Can you find a system that can be devised by the mind of man where there is so little complaint? There are no doubt some complaints made that do not reach the Civil Service Commission, but they are of a political nature-that is the people here have not been educated up to the viewpoint that it is right and proper for any opponent of the Government to get any position, and therefore there has been in a locality some complaint, about a man being appointed because he was a supporter of the Government, but you cannot help that in connection with appointments under the merit system so that X say that is one ot the best illustrations to show the Act has not been operating to the detriment of the service. The Deputy Postmaster General has never complained that he is getting an inferior class of men, because we are utilizing his own officers, so that we can recommend the exemption of any class under the existing Act without amending it.

After this evidence alone it seems to me

and I believe it will be the view of other members-there was no reason for the original Bill, and it was not necessary to bring back the Bill in its amended form, for it still contains the idea which was behind the first Bill-a return to patronage. I think I have proved that this Bill was unnecessary, and that the purpose of it was to go back to political patronage, and that it was useless on account of not adequately covering the whole ground.

Now, as to delays-it covers that also- the delays were explained by some of the deputy heads of departments who came before the committee.

Take for example, the evidence of Mr. A. Johnston, Deputy Minister of Marine and Fisheries. I quote the following from the report of the evidence:

By Hon. Mr. Calder:

Q. I have heard it stated time and again that as a result of the action of Parliament in handing over to the Civil Service Commission the classification of the service and the fixing of schedules that there has been a struggle spread throughout the entire service grasping for higher positions and higher salaries because the whole mass of them do not get just what they want. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction?-A. That is my opinion. I had hoped to avoid saying it, but that at all events is my judgment.

By Mr. Griesbach:

Q. What about the discipline in the department?

A. So far as I am concerned, I have not a single complaint to make in the matter of discipline. I don't think the discipline in our department at all events has suffered in the slightest. I don't think so.

By Mr. Euler:

Q. Don't you think the unrest you speak of throughout the department among all classes is the result of the re-classification and that that will not be permanent?-A. It may not be permanent, but X have no expectation it is going to be permanently settled.

By Hon. Mr. Calder:

Q. Is the struggle still going on for higher classification on the part of the civil servants? -A. Yes, it is in our department.

Q. For higher salaries? Are they still appealing for higher salaries?-A. Yes, there are quite a number at the present time, I think.

Q. I suppose the time will come when that will all end?-A. Yes, but we will all be dead then.

It appears, therefore, from the evidence adduced before the committee in respect to one department-and it reflects the condition which prevails in all departments of the service-that any inefficiency which may exist is the result not of the Civil Service Act of 1918 but of the classification which was imposed on the commission -the classification made by Griffenhagen and Associates and Arthur Young and Company. In fact, the reorganization of the Post Office and Customs Departments is now actually proceeding; it is being done by Wolff, one of the associates of Griffenhagen. We were told at the beginning of the session that the services of these people were to be dispensed with on March 31, of this year; that the public service was to get rid of them, hut it appears that they are still working. I hope they will not do in the Post Office Department what they did in the Printing Bureau in destroying most important documents. The trouble, I say, is due not to the overloading of the commission with work but to the classification. It was stated before the committee that these so-called experts were asked by the commission to make this classification. I hold in my hand a copy of the Order in Council with regard to the appointment of these so-called experts. It is dated May 31, 1920, and reads as follows:

"The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report, dated 28th May, 1929, from the Minister of Trade and Commerce, submitting as follows:

The contract made with Arthur Young anld Company by the Civil Service Commission is about to expire and the work therein contracted for has been very nearly complete. This work included the production of a system of classification of the Civil Service and the reorganization of the Department of Public Printing and1 Stationery.

I hope that the report of Judge Snider will show how that reorganization was carried on in the Printing Bureau.

Arthur Young and Company have transferred to Griffenhagen and Associates, Limited, that branch of their work which specially has to do with the reorganization of municipal and governmental civil service and the organization of business corporations in respect to staff organization and plan of work of the Arthur Young Company upon the same plans and with the same efficiency as the original company and is

prepared to continue the reorganization/ of the public Departments of the Government along the tines pursued In the Department of Public Printing and Stationery. The Committee referred to has no hesitation in commending in the strongest possible way the work of Arthur Young and Company in connection with the reorganization of the Department of Public Printing.

Further on it says:

They are of opinion-

Referring to the committee of five.

that the services of Griffenhagen and Associates, Limited, should be retained.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

The hon. member knows very well that the committee to which this Bill was referred did not take into consideration anything at all in connection with Griffenhagen or the firm of Young and Company. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the hon. gentleman will confine himself to the evidence which he has been reading- evidence, by the way, with which we are all familiar, but to which the hon. gentleman has been giving his attention most of the afternoon.

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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

The hon. gentleman himself took up most of last night, and in reading his statement the minister occupied an hour. ,

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

I ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, on the question whether the hon. member has the right to discuss Griffen-hagen and Associates and their work under this clause.

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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

The CHAIRMAN:

I must remind hon. members that we are now in committee on a Bill the principle of which was adopted by the House, the whole matter having been subsequently referred to a special committee for consideration. The discussion, therefore, should be relevant to the clause which is before the committee. Clause 1, which is now under consideration, is in effect the report of the committee and therefore what took place before the committee, may, I think, be quite properly reviewed here. But I am of the opinion that the employment of the firm of Griffenhagen and Company to reorganize one or more departments is not a matter which can properly be discussed at this stage.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

May I remark, Mr. Chairman, that when the Bill was in the committee stage the other day the Minister of Immigration delivered a long address which could not be replied to because he spoke until six o'clock. In that address he referred to the general features of this new Bill, so I think we should have the right to refer to those matters.

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June 3, 1921