March 31, 1922

LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The minister has the right to discuss the general policy of his department. The issue has been raised and he is now discussing that policy, particularly with reference to the Civil Service Commission.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Mr. Chairman, may I

just draw your attention-

Some hon MEMBERS: Order.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. The hon. member may not, if that is his intention, criticise the ruling which I have given.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I submit that the Chair cannot rule against an hon. member on that point unless he has first made such a criticism. I was just going to express the hope that in connection with all the Estimates we on this side shall be permitted to take that into account as well as the minister. The other day we were dealing with the question of soldiers' civil re-establishment

Supply-Labour

and it was brought to our attention that we were out of order in discussing matters of general policy.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

I am sorry that it is necessary to do this; I am doing it only because hon. members seem to want something from me.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK (reading):

So little practical and permanent improvement had resulted that the people were skeptical and the service itself, than whom none knew better the need for reform, was well nigh losing hope of salvation. However, Sir Robert Borden's manifesto on the eve of the election in December, 1917, placed the matter in a clear light. Next to the determination to " win the war," " Civil Service reform " was the chief plank in the platform of the Union Government, and immediately after the general election-

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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

If you refer to this green book containing the rules of procedure of the House you will find it provides that speeches in committee must be relevant to the item under consideration. What are we now discussing that makes that letter relevant? I ask for the ruling of the Chair.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

We are discussing the civil government estimates of the Department of Labour, which we started to discuss two or three nights ago, not the Printing Bureau items, which the hon. member for North Toronto got into a discussion of.

(Reading) :

Immediately after the general election the entire outside service was placed under the control of the Civil Service Commission. Subsequently on the 24th of May, 1918, a Civil Service Act was sanctioned providing for a reclassification and reorganization of all departments and extending the powers of the Commission to cover all appointments and promotions in the outside service.

In recent years the people have evidenced a growing interest in the administration of the public service. They are demanding more and better service. Now, as never before, the greatest economy is necessitated by the financial burdens resulting from the War.

In the reclassification of such a large army of workers, it was inevitable that there should be some dissatisfaction with the grades awarded, but a right of appeal was given to a Board of Hearing, and this resulted in many individuals being re-graded. Previous to Reclassification, there was no appeal against any seeming injustice or unfairness; influence was the only thing that helped.

The number dealt with throughout the entire Service under the original scheme of classification was 60,000

TMr. Manion.]

Total number of appeals submitted.. 5,000

These were divided into five classes as follows :-

(a) personal appeals claiming wrong classification ;

(b) class appeals;

(c) appeals for increased remuneration;

(d) bonus;

(e) general.

These personal appeals in Ottawa totalled 2,500. All of these were individually investigated and over one thousand were granted, entailing an increase in salary. The average amount of increase on the appeals granted was $400. The total amount- of increase in salary resulting from the hearing of personal appeals was over $400,000. This amount does not include the back-pay which was paid on the successful appeals being made retroactive to April 1919.

A considerable number of changes along the line of promotions have been made among the clerks not appealing, which has resulted in a considerable increase in the salary of these clerks, which would go to increase the above figures.

It can readily be seen that there is still a great number of adjustments to be made which have been delayed by the hearing of personal appeals. The latter are now about completed, when this phase of the work will be taken up.

The appeals from the Outside Service have been treated in the same manner as the appeals in Ottawa, and investigators have been sent from Coast to Coast to personally hear these appeals. The result cannot be given as they are yet incompleted.

It will, therefore, be seen that the Government has taken up seriously the question of proper classification and has offered the proper facilities for every employee of the Government to present his case and have it properly adjusted. This was carried out and is being carried out in the following manner :-

The different units throughout the various branches of the departments elected a representative to present their cases before the Investigators. The Investigator visited each appellant, investigated his work, received his personal statement and then in consultation with the Appellant's representative came to a decision as to the proper classification of the Appellant. In cases where the Investigator and the representative disagreed, all the documents and representations both of the Appellant and the Branch Representative, as well as the departmental representative and deputy head, were sent to the Board of Hearing for final decision. It will therefore be seen that every means was exhausted to give every clerk a full opportunity to present his case.

The whole scheme of reclassification was to place each and every clerk in his proper class in harmony with the work he was performing. This will eventually be accomplished. The result will be that each and every clerk will have a direct channel of promotion open to him. If he is competent, ambitious and faithful, he is bound to rise through the different grades of the class in which he has been placed. Under the old scheme this could not be followed, for the reason that a clerk might be doing one class of work to-day and another to-morrow, which did not afford him the opportunity of making himself efficient in any one ; therefore, though that inefficiency in the particular class in which he was then found might prevent his subsequent promotion, whereas, in the new, this cannot

Supply-Labour

occur, and the matter of promotion is entirely up to the clerk.

It must also be remembered that a great many appellants filed appeals simply on principle of taking advantage of every opportunity, and on investigation it was found that many of these had already received a substantial promotion and increase in salary, and taking a chance of getting more. This will account for a considerable number of those not granted.

The chief objection to the reclassification as it originally occurred in 1918, was the apparent low remuneration attached to the many classes. This was not as bad as it looked, for the reason that under the old system a clerk was promoted on seniority and not merit, on length of service and not on duties performed, and the classes under the old system included in each class a large number of grades as established under classification. That is to say that the grading under the old system, $900 to $1,600, would include a large number of classes which now are titled and bear different remunerations. When a clerk is placed in the class to which he properly belongs, his energy and ability can be devoted along that special line, the result being increased efficiency and usefulness. No matter what the service, efficiency will be the one factor which will lead to his promotion, and while the remuneration at the outset of his classification might be considered low, yet the range of possibilities along the lines of promotion are ten to one as compared to the old system. Another feature is, under the old system, a man's duties could change, and he might be assigned very much more important duties than he was then performing, but he would have no claim for increased remuneration or promotion, whereas, under the new classification, the moment new duties are assigned, his classification is affected and he has a claim for a higher grading.

Thus it will be seen that all vestige of patronage. of pull, of favoritism, or any of the old influences that ever entered into the promotion of a clerk are now eliminated, and it is up to the clerk himself as to whether he will make himself efficient along the lines of the duties in which he has been classified.

It will, therefore, be seen at a glance the tremendous undertaking of classifying this large body of Civil Servants and it cannot be denied that errors crept in and are bound to creep in, inconsistencies will naturally arise, but all these will eventually be adjusted, but this tremendous task canot be acomplished in a day. Owing to the demands of the Service for haste and speed this work had to be acomplished in a much less time than should have been consumed, considering the importance of the work, but now that personal appeals have practically been disposed of, these errors and inconsistencies will be rectified.

The hope of the Civil Service is not in appointments, but in promotions, and this is considered the one strong point of classification as it provides a future for every Civil Servant regardless of who he is, what influences he has, or how many years' service he may have rendered. The amount of money which these changes have entailed cannot as yet be estimated, but the figures given will give you some idea of the large amount required to meet this demand, and while we hear very little from the clerk who receives a substantial promotion and a considerable increase in salary as well as back pay, it is quite natural that we should hear from the unfortunate clerk who did not fare so well, and, therefore, it would appear that the great good that has resulted and the large amount of money that has circulated throughout the Service through re-classification, will not be brought to the surface as the satisfied people say little, but the dissatisfied very much.

If the statements of those whose duty it has been to go through the entire service and meet the rank and file-as has been done during the last year-are to be considered as representing the true state of affairs, then it can safely be said that there is more contentment and real genuine satisfaction throughout the great mass of Civil Service employees to-day than there has ever been before, and while there are a number of dissatisfied clerks, even these realize that to a certain extent their future has been assured in a better way than ever before and that an incentive has been given them for efficiency and proper service.

The service cannot realize the many difficulties that are being met by those having in charge classification, and if they will only be patient until an opportunity is afforded for the proper adjustment of what may appear to be hardships and unfairness, it can be safely said that good results will be obtained. If the service will only recognize that they have the opportunity to place before an unprejudiced tribunal any grievances which they may have or think they have, then their criticisms will be less harsh and the future will have a brighter outlook, and many of their worries will have disappeared.

It is to be hoped that nothing will interfere with the proposed* programme which has been begun for the betterment of the service. Those in charge of this tremendous work are now' reaching a point where they have their very proper understanding of the needs of the service and are preparing to meet all conditions in a proper and fair way and to see that every clerk, male or female, gets absolute justice. This will take time and require a little more patience on the part of the service.

Hand-in-hand with reorganization goes superannuation, consequently the Public Service Retirement Act of 1920 (or the Calder Act, as it is better known) was passed by Parliament. By it the government assumed responsibility for all employees retired. In every case W'here it w^as necessary, either on account of old age, ill-health, inefficiency or lack of employment to deprive a man of his position, some provision was made whereby he would leave the service with a retiring allowance. This amount has been calculated according to his length of service, age and salary.

While these retiring allowances have cost the recipient nothing, at the same time the interests of those who have been contributors to the Civil Service Superannuation and Retirement Act were conserved and the allowances in every case made a little less than in the case of the contributors to the old fund.

When the Act began to be administered and it was found that anomalies were arising and that sufficient provision had not been made for all classes of employees the government passed an amending Bill at the last session of Parliament whereby an endeavour was made to cover all classes of federal service employees. This has been accomplished as practically all employees are eligible under its provisions for retiring allowances with the exception of men wrho are paid by the hour or what may be termed prevailing rates em-

Supply-Labour

ployed. (It may be pointed out here that the men who have been placed on prevailing rates during the last two years are consequently prevented from benefiting by the Act.)

Up to October 1, 1921, 468 employees have been retired under the Act. To these has been paid in cash gratuities $195,430.76. The pensions will cost the government while the present annuities live $194,485.60 annually.

In February, 1918, an Order in Council was passed which had the effect of extending a preference to returned soldiers, those who obtain sufficient marks to pass an examination being placed, irrespective of the marks obtained, in order of merit on the list of successful candidates above all other candidates. . Further the prescriptions as to age and physical requirements do not apply to any returned soldier if he is able to perform the duties of the office. Returned soldiers are exempted from examination fees. The term " returned soldier " includes all women who served as nurses and so on.

Not only were these preferences accorded by law, but the Civil Service Commission utilized every means to bring to the attention of returned soldiers the opportunities available. Co-operation of the veteran associations was secured throughout the Dominion, and on all special advisory boards for the purpose of adjudicating on applications there is always an official representative present from the Great War Veterans' Association.

Mr. Chairman, that is the document that was prepared and used, as I understand, to justify the position of the predecessors of this Government in connection with the Civil Service regulations, and under these regulations I have felt that I was hound while the law remains as it is and had no option to suggest or make changes in the existing classification of any employees who are being continued in the service.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

Reading long letters will not settle questions of this 'kind. I do not see how the minister ever expects to pass his estimates-estimates which total upwards of $258,000-by wasting the time of the committee in reading a letter which is not at all relevant to the matter under consideration. What we expect from the minister is constructive legislation such as will improve the conditions of labouring people in this country whether they are engaged on the farm or at work in the large urban centres. If this is to be an example of the kind of administration we are to anticipate from the Minister of Labour-

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I rise to a point of order. While the Minister of Labour has the floor he can only be deprived of that privilege with his own consent.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

But the Minister of Labour sat down, having concluded what he had to say.

[Mr. Murdock.)

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

This is an interruption to the speech of a minister.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I am very much obliged to the Solicitor-General (Mr. McKenzie) for his interruption. I would like to remind him, however, that he may not be much longer in this House.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I regret to say that the Department of Labour is honeycombed with politics. Never was that condition more glaringly apparent than it is to-day. Now, this department has important relations with the industrial activities of the country and the social welfare of the people; it is a department that should be taken completely out of politics.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

Has the department changed in character at all during the last three months, excepting that I am now administering it?

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March 31, 1922