April 10, 1923

PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

I think so.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

William Alves Boys (Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

As it is not really essential at the present time to undertake this work, could not the item stand until next year?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

John Babington Macaulay Baxter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAXTER:

I presume the minister has informed himself, but I think this committee ought to have information as to the cost of rented buildings in the city of Ottawa upon a floor space basis as a comparison with similar figures for buildings constructed by the Dominion government, taking into account the interest on the cost, and the upkeep, including repairs and everything else, so that we may see whether it is more or less expensive to own buildings or to rent them. While personally I would rather favour the idea of the government owning and controlling the necessary buildings for the public service, still I have understood that the same thing obtains in Ottawa that obtains in other cities throughout Canada, and it is that the investments made by owners are not very profitable in the larger buildings, and that it will cost the government more annually to meet the interest charge and the upkeep of a building constructed for a specific purpose than to rent equal space in privately-owned buildings. I do not know which is correct, but I do think before we are asked to pass upon any such project we ought to have some information of that character. So far it seems to me to be just a little bit nebulous. The minister has told us that an architect is to consult with some one who will know the requirements of the Printing bureau. We do not seem to know the area to be covered nor the floor space that is requisite. It is very difficult to see how upon such a slender footing you can

make an estimate of $500,000 or any other sum, and feel that it is even tolerably within the limits of accuracy. It may be, but I must say it is rather a nebulous proposition.

To avoid the necessity of speaking again, I would like to suggest this on the broader view of the question. If economy is worth anything it ought to begin here, and this government, this parliament, ought to try to set the example of getting along under existing, conditions rather than incurring expenditure at . a time when it seems to be simply impossible to make the annual revenue commensurate with the annual expenditure. Now if we start with that proposition I should think we would have very little of new building for some years. We have just heard a criticism in the House to-night as to the result with regard to this building in which we are. It may be that the criticism is not well directed, but there seems to be in the committee a feeling of dissatisfaction that the cost had so largely exceeded the amount that was predicted. Surely that must have come to some extent from the very practice that the minister, and I give him all credit for good intentions, is introducing tonight of embarking upon construction without first having a rigid analysis of the cost.

Might I suggest this, that the Dominion government at all times is doing too much printing, and that to contract the Printing bureau instead of expanding it would be decidedly in the interests of the country. There are tons of printed matter distributed to this House and distributed throughout the country that no one ever reads, and if we went so far in my judgment, which may not concur with that of other members of the House, as to bring about the suppression of Hansard itself, I think the country would not be much worse off. I must say I do not see any great benefit in recording what people have said when it seems to be one of the criteria of latter day politics that no one is bound to stick to anything he has said in the past. Against this expenditure which produces nothing for the country is the absolute need in every great harbour of Canada for the expenditure not merely of one hundred thousand or five hundred thousand dollars but millions of dollars, in order to promote the trade that is vital and necessary to this country if we are to keep the people within it and give them something to live for. I do not mind enlarging the capital debt for something that will promote the trade of the country even if it does seem to be running into extravagance. Why cannot we stop these things that are not vitally necessary, these tilings that do not produce any results until we have caught up with the things that are

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necessary from a business standpoint? I would ask the minister, because I believe he is a man of sound intentions and fair judgment and wants to do the best he can, under the circumstances to fairly consider the wisdom of dropping this item and all items of this class until we have met these other expenditures that the country needs to a vastly greater extent.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

It is true that our rentals of ordinary office space show a cheaper cost than in buildings owned and operated by the government but a building suitable for a printing bureau could not, I think, be rented in the city of Ottawa. I do not think you could find that type of building here. It is a building which is required for a specific purpose and my information, my advice, my inquiries lead me to believe we would be well advised in constructing a building for this purpose rather than trying to make additions to the old building which we are now occupying. We think it better business to provide this building, that it will be real economy in the end, and that is the reason why we are asking for this appropriation.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

My suggestion to the minister is that we abandon the item; abandon any plans for additions to the present Printing bureau and the estimates for a new building. For the life of me I do not know why the government is starting to build another printing bureau now. I thought that pressure for everything that was needed, or for everything that was not needed, came on the late government, but I cannot recall any pressure for a printing bureau. I cannot recall any demand for that at all, and it seems a strange thing to me that it has been discussed now; that the one new thing we want in this country is a new printing bureau. Why are the additions required? Of course we could use them. There is some storage required at times for stationery, and if that stationery was at the bureau it would be a little handier. That is all correct, but it is no ground for embarking on an expenditure that is going to run to a million dollars.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

Oh no.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Oh, pshaw. The minister has got to get ground, unless he is going to come down here on Wellington street, and I venture to say he is not. He is going to erect a building of the dimensions of the present bureau or larger. Will he tell me that the present building did not cost a million dollars, and erected at a time when building was far cheaper than it is now? I have

never had the figures, but I venture to say that building has cost close to a million dollars. Once we pass this item the minister can enter into a contract for the erection of a building of the present dimensions or larger. When that is done he will have paid a million out. Then he has to take his old building and reconstruct it virtually from top to bottom, because as it stands to-day it is valueless as a departmental building; the walls are there, it is true, but the whole of the interior would have to be reconstructed. He is launching on a new building at the present time because he has been informed that the present structure is not suitable for a modern printing bureau. Does the minister mean to suggest that the need or call for a new bureau compares at all with the need of scores of farmers of this country who are drawing grain for sixty miles to get it to a railway station? The grading of the railway which is to provide them with means of transportation has been done but the government cannot provide the money to put down the rails. Let the minister get along with the building he has. We do not need a building to-day as much as we needed it years ago; we have fewer employees. I have a statement in front of me which shows that the annual pay of those employees, notwithstanding the increased wages we are paying out to-day, is something like $526,000 less than in previous years. We have some 460 less employees, if I understood the Minister of Labour aright, than we had before. Now if we have fewer employees and less expenditure to provide for, owing to the reorganization effected by the late government, why is it, with all that done, we have got to-cast the whole thing away and erect a new building? The minister, I think, should abandon the item and abandon the project. Let us go on with the Printing bureau that we have, let us hold to the saving we have made, and let us possibly present some case to those in other parts of the Dominion who have to be denied improvements that are necessary for productive purposes on the score of economy.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

There is one very important reason for the proposal to build a new Printing bureau that has not yet been referred to. I was in hopes that it would not be necessary to allude to it but it seems that it is. I would like very much if my hon. friends opposite who have so eloquently talked against the building of a reasonably modern, safe and up-to-date Printing bureau would go down to that bureau and verify whether what I am going to state is warranted by the facts

Supply-Public Works

or not. I do not possess special knowledge with respect to printing bureaux but I regard the present building as being absolutely unsuitable for the employees under present conditions having regard to the location of the heating plant. When I was first placed in charge of the Printing bureau and went down to look at the situation and examined the location of the heating plant, what did I find? It is located in the centre of the bureau, the structure has been built around it, so that in the rooms above the heat in the summertime is unbearable while the risk from fire, and possible misadventure, at all times, seems to me to be beyond question. I frankly state that I have been anticipating, month, after month, some unfortunate occurrence to happen down there, with possibly great loss of life.

If there should be any such occurrence, under the conditions which now exist, would we save money in view of the fact that 675 or 725 employees would be thrown on our hands to be supported by the government while they were out of work. Then the fact of the heavy machinery in the bureau has been touched upon. I do not know that the building conforms to the requirements of the Ontario Factory Law; I am afraid that instead of being held to conform to the provincial statute it would be regarded as entirely unsafe. As to the aspect of this proposition from a financial standpoint, the committee have not yet been told that we pay out in rent of buildings in the city of Ottawa every year the sum of $626,000; that we pay for the upkeep of these buildings-for char service, heating and lighting and so on-$275,000, or a total of $901,000 a year for these purposes. Yet the proposition to build a $500,000 modern, up-to-date, printing plant, constructed so that the heaviest machinery could be utilized and operated without undue vibration, is subjected to criticism. This is a business proposition, if I know anything about it. I certainly would like hon. members who are opposed to the vote for this purpose to go down and inspect the situation for themselves and then come back and say whether this proposition is not a practical and businesslike one. I do not regard the conditions under which em- [DOT] ployees in the Printing bureau are working as being safe, and I think we are fortunate indeed that untoward occurrences have not happened before this.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not, know why there should have been any hesitation in stating that the building is dangerous from a fire standpoint if that is the real reason for the government's action. I really do not know

what the government were afraid of in concealing that fact and only bringing it out at the last minute. But let us consider the argument presented from that standpoint. It has not been shown that any great change is needed now from what has existed for thirty-six years at all events for several years. I have not heard this fire peril advanced before.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

Will my right hon. friend pardon me? He probably is aware that in very recent years an additional wing has been built right over the boiler. That is a material change which affects the situation.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

John Babington Macaulay Baxter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAXTER:

Where should the boiler be put? Not on top of the building.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

You usually have the boiler in a spot where you will not encounter improper hazards.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

John Babington Macaulay Baxter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAXTER:

The boiler is in the cellar generally.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Sometimes you do, but

certainly it is not the rule by any means. Suppose the building is turned into a departmental building, what about the employees that are going to be put into it? The minister's intention is to take the government employees from some other sphere and hive them in this building, and the boiler-will still be under the building. The boiler will not be moved out.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

There is a difference. These boilers are used for power purposes; they are under high pressure. The old heating boiler would be a low pressure boiler, which is quite different.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does the minister mean there is danger of the boiler bursting because of the high pressure?

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

The boilers are

under high pressure and high fires all the time.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I presume thfey are built for that. I understood the danger to be that there was something above, and in case of fire starting below it would quickly spread. That danger will exist just the same if the building is of the other kind. It may be there will be less fire on. It seems to me it is drawing the line pretty fine. If there is danger of the boilers bursting, then they were not built for the purpose for which they are being used. If there is danger from fire, there is just as much danger if it is heated as a departmental building as there would be in the other case. The minister says it is going to pay, because now we are paying out some $600,000 rentals and $200,000 odd for lighting and charring in the

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rented buildings. Well why not pay it out? After we have built this building, will we not have to light it the same as in the other case? Do we not get along more cheaply when we rent these buildings? Is not the reason he is erecting this building the fact that there is not a building he can rent which is suitable for the purpose? I have not the least doubt at all-and I have gone very carefully into some of the comparisons-that we cannot erect buildings and maintain them as cheaply as we can rent, save under very exceptional conditions of renting, and at the present time in this city there are liable to be more buildings in the market to rent, and there are to-day more buildings to rent, than there have been for some years. The government is in position to get cheaper rentals, if only it will exercise the opportunities at hand. The government can get cheaper rentals than we have had for some time, and while we are in tha't position, when we should be contracting rather than expanding departments, needing less year by year, we are launching upon a building programme, and we are asked to give a cheque for a building which is going to run to $1,000,-

000. It ought to be possible to obviate any special fire peril in this building. If there is any special fire peril I do not want the bureau employees or any other employees to be subject to it. It should be possible to obviate this peril, without abandoning the thing after 36 years, merely because we are told that by reason of the boiler being underneath there is some special danger to the occupants.

Topic:   SUPPLY-DISMISSAL OF JOHN J. HAYES FROM POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS-OTTAWA PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
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April 10, 1923