April 4, 1922


Item agreed to. Department of Public Works-salaries, $583,035 ; contingencies $94,000.


CON
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is a decrease in

salary, and a small increase in contingencies, but I do not think the decrease is anything at all-I speak now from memory and subject to correction-comparable to decreases which have been made continuously in that department because of the reduction of the work. That department has become pretty nearly all overhead. It is top-heavy. I know that the minister has been in office for a less period of time than his colleagues, but I am satisfied that there is not a department of the Government in which the minister can, with better advantage, direct his energies towards reorganization than the Department of Public Works. The work of reorganization that we had under way, and which should be continued now beyond all doubt, went through the Customs and Inland Revenue Departments, the Post Office, the Printing Bureau and reached the Public Works Department. It was done against great obstacles and in the face of the bitterest possible criticism, because when you start that kind of work you know what criticism is. I suggest that he should apply that reorganization to the Public Works Department, and he

will be astonished at the saving he can make for the country. I must admit that he may possibly be a little surprised by the abuse brought upon his own head, but I know that he will be courageous enough to face it.

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LIB

James Horace King (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. J. H. KING (East Kootenay, Minister of Public Works) :

Just a short explanation of the estimates. There has been a net reduction this year in the amount voted for salaries of $37,465. There will be some thirty-four employees dropped from the department, and we shall carry twenty-three vacancies. Some of those will be filled, and some probably will not be filled. The number of employees in the department has never, since 1913 or 1914, been as low as it is this year. There has been a gradual decrease. This year the total will be 295 as against 325 last year. In the contingency vote, there is r decrease in printing, the vote being $14,00( this year, as against $19,600 last year In clerical and other assistance, there has been an increase of some thirteen employees who are being carried under the vote this year, but who were placed under other votes last year. There is a reduction in travelling expenses and also a slight increase in sundries, but the net decrease is some $37,000.

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PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

We have become used to hearing about increases in salary, with the statement that the Civil Service Commission is responsible for it. Take the second item, assistant deputy minister, the salary has been decreased $600. Is that the same assistant deputy minister, or is this a new one coming in?

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

There is a new one coming in at a lower salary.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

Is it necessary to

have two travelling paymasters, one at $2,700 and one at $2,475, and also filing clerks, one at $2,160 and one at $1,920? I do not think there is a commercial concern in the Dominion of Canada which pays any such price to a file clerk. I think the usual salary is $50 to $75 a month.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

These officials travel from one portion of the country to another on a certain work the department is carrying out. The salaries are fixed by the Civil Service Commission.

Supply-Public Works

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

There is an item here of $48,000 for travelling expenses; can the hon. gentleman tell me how much was expended last year?

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PRO
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

For the benefit of new members, it would be a great convenience if we knew what was the expenditure in the preceding year. We are entirely at a loss-and I am sure the minister is in the same position-to know about what has been spent. I should like to point out to the minister that his department is carrying on practically no new capital expenditure. The only expenditure of any importance on the Island of Vancouver has been stopped altogether for reasons that seem good to the Government, and yet the country is asked to vote a very considerable sum of money for travelling expenses for officials of the head office of this department when there is little or no public work of the Character to which it could be applied going on. It occurs to me that this is a large sum of money to vote under that head. I think the minister will agree that I am right in that. Would it be possible for the deputy minister, who is present, to give us the information as to what was spent last year?

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I am not altogether satisfied with the answer regarding the file clerks. Do I understand the hon. gentleman to mean that the salary of those file clerks was fixed at $2,100?

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

I thought the hon. gentleman was speaking of paymast-ters.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I spoke of paymasters and file clerks. There are quite a number at $2,100. Most commercial concerns hire a young boy or girl at $50 or $75 a month to fill similar positions.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

The heads of the filing department should and would receive very good salaries. The junior file clerks do not receive large salaries, but the work is important, and the heads, no doubt, would receive very good salaries.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

These are evidently not heads. On page 95 there are two file clerks, one at $2,160 and one at $1,920. Then on page 96 seven file clerks ranging from $2,100 down. Further down nine file clerks from $2,100 down. These cannot be all head file Clerks.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

I think, as the hon. gentleman states, they are paid from $2,100 downward according to their grade as fixed by the commission. The salary,

I believe, is also fixed by the commission as applying to the departments generally through the whole service.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

A salary of $2,100 is too much for a file clerk. No business concern will pay such wages as that. Could the minister tell me what would happen to the working of the Civil Service if the House cut down that item, or the minister himself cut it down?

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

I would hesitate about recommending anything of that kind.

I imagine the head filing clerk must be a competent man and one that can be relied upon. The salary proposed is not large for a position of that character and responsibility.

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LIB

Edgar-Rodolphe-Eugène Chevrier

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

Are these salaries the result of the classification by the Griffen-Lagens or are they fixed by the Civil Service Commission?

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April 4, 1922