At any rate, I would point out that there is throughout the whole of this country a demand, and I think a just one, that we should cut down not only the expense of government but the national expenses generally, Dominion, provincial and municipal. There is a way of cutting down our civil service expenditure; perhaps it was suggested when I was out of the room. I do not believe we should go out into the different departments, and slash here, there and everywhere, put men out of work and increase the unemployment which unfortunately is worse at this time, to my mind, than it ever was in the country before. I am not blaming on the present government, the overloading of the civil service as it prevails in very many of the departments; all past governments permitted the civil service to be built up to a greater extent than it should have been. We cut down the number of employees in the Printing Bureau with good effect and there is no doubt that all the departments, or most of them, could be cut down with resulting improvement to the service and saving to the country.
Probably I would have agreed with my hon. friend in 1910-11 about that, if it occurred. I do not like to keep repeating to my hon. friend that I am getting wiser as I get older. My suggestion is that when a man retires, dies or otherwise leaves the sendee, let the positions remain as they are or fill them by transfer from some other department.
Well, I do not. I hope it is, but I cannot see it in any of the figures. The Postmaster General announced the other day that he had put in a lot of machines to cut down labour, but the fact is that the number of employees in his department has been increased. Certainly ,1 should think there were more than four superannuations or deaths in the Department of Public Works last year. The hon. member (Mr. Stevens) tells .me there were 12, so that the plan I suggest has not been carried out. We certainly could cut down the civil service gradually and work hardship to no one if we adopted this plan of filling vacancies by transfer from the same department or from other departments, and it might then be possible to establish the civil service upon something reasonably like the basis of strength of a private corporation. The minister says that is being done. Well, I hope a real attempt is being made to do it; at any rate, I think there should be a greater attempt than is shown in most of the departments. I admit that the minister's department shows a decrease, but in most of the other departments there appears to be an increase.
I hope there will be something upon which we can commend my hon. friend. I repeat that we should make a greater effort than is being made at the present time-and I say it in all sincerity- to cut down the expenses of government and in that way to reduce the very high taxation we have in this country.
That the Civil Service Commission has failed to gain the confidence of the people of the country has been due, I think, to other reasons than their inefficiency. It was noticeable at the first session of this parliament I attended that the Civil Service Commission were getting no sympathy or co-operation from the heads of government, not even from the deputy ministers. Indeed, I have known that from divisional heads the Civil Service Commission has met with opposition in carrying out its wishes. Now this is not as it should be. The hon. member for West Toronto has said that the
Civil Service Commission has no way of finding out an applicant's integrity or his standing in his own community. I can very well remember conditions as they were when the old patronage system was in full swing, and I can assure the hon. member that at that time men were placed in most responsible offices whose integrity to say the least was very questionable.