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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?