Mr. J. EARL LAWSON (West York):
Mr. Speaker, on rising to move concurrence of the house in the report of the select special committee on civil service matters, I desire at the very outset to express my personal gratitude to the members of the committee for the effort which each of them made to present every aspect of the situation without evidence of partisanship. In the deliberations of the committee subsequent to its open sittings they demonstrated a very high sense of public duty.
Although the report presented to the house is unanimous, it is not to be expected that men from different vocations in life who have been subject to different environment should reach those conclusions by the same processes of reasoning, and hence I wish to make it clear that in what I have to say in moving concurrence of the report I am expressing my own views which led me to those conclusions.
Civil service legislation was first introduced in Canada in 1868. That legislation set up a civil service board consisting of fourteen deputy heads of departments, five of whom should be a quorum to exercise all the functions of the board. A chairman and a secretary were to be chosen annually from among the fourteen. The duties of the board were, inter alia: ,
(a) To examine candidates; (b) keep a record of the candidates for examination; (c) grant certificates of qualification to candidates whose fitness and capacity, and whose testimonials as to moral character have been found satisfactory; (d) to investigate and report upon claims for promotion; and (e) to perform such duties as the governor in council thought fit; and to investigate such matters as might be referred to them connected with the administration of the civil service as to promotion, appointment, salary or the efficiency and welfare of the service; and to summon and examine witnesses and to call for persons and obtain papers.
From the resume of the legislation it is apparent that the boaird had to some extent the functions of bath our present civil service commission and a parliamentary committee. Some amendments to that legislation were made in 1872. In 1882 the two previous enactments were repealed arid the Canada Civil Service Act of that year was enacted. This legislation provided for a board of examiners of three members-
-who from time to time shall be appointed by the governor in council, to examine all candidates for admission to the civil service of 41761-179
Canada, and to give certificates of qualification to such persons as are found qualified according to such regulations as shall be framed for the guidance of the board.
There were two examinations prescribed: (a) a preliminary examination to decide if the applicant could read, write and add; (b) a qualifying examination to decide his fitness to fulfil any position for which he might be a candidate. The board had first to satisfy itself as to the man's age, health and character. The examinations were open to all and might be held in either language. By chapter 46 of the statutes of 1885 a consolidation of the acts of 1882, 1883 and 1884 was made, and the board of examiners was placed under the supervision of the Secretary of State. Provision was made for a secretary and a clerk to assist the board.
No change of any moment was made in the legislation I have just outlined until the Civil Service Amendment Act of 1908, which for the first time provided for a civil service commission consisting of two members appointed by the governor in council. Each commissioner was to hold office during good behaviour and could be removed by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. The then existing civil service examiners were to continue during pleasure, but under direction of the commission.
It will be observed that up to this legislation of 1908 we 'had in Canada in respect of civil service matters a merit system, namely, a system by which only those holding the certificate of qualification from the examiner could be appointed to a position in the civil service. By this act of 1908 there was introduced what is now commonly called the merit system, but which in reality is something more; that is, this act with its amendments established a competitive merit system, whereby the person ranking highest in qualifications shall at all times be appointed to the vacancy which is to be filled. By this act appointment was to be made as a result of competitive examinations, and promotion was to be made for merit :by the governor in council upon the recommendation of the department, based upon the report in writing of the deputy head, accompanied by a certificate of qualification by the commission, to be given with or without examination as determined by the regulations of the commission.
By the amending act of 1918 the commission was to consist of not more than three members, and the tenure of office of future commissioners was to be for ten years during good behaviour. It also provided for the
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retirement of a commissioner at the age of sixty-five. That act, subject to some minor amendments, is the Civil Service Act of today which is found in the revised statutes of 1927, and in respect of which a reference was made to your committee.
It might be well at this time to outline the nature of the organization of the Civil Service Commission. It can be divided into four main classifications, namely the examination branch, the organization branch, the assignment branch and the administration branch, and the last branch in turn may be subdivided into three, namely the secretarial, the personal services and the central register. Under the control of the Civil Service Commission there are approximately 35,000 civil servants. There are in Canada a total of 45,581 civil servants, as of March, 1931. Briefly, these are divided as follows: Permanent employees at Ottawa, 8.009; permanent employees outside Ottawa, 24,706, or a total number of permanent em-employees of 32,715. There are in Ottawa temporary employees numbering 3,757, and outside of Ottawa 9,109, or a total of 12,866 temporary employees. If you add together those two subtotals you get a grand total of 45,581 employees for the month of March, 1931, who that month received in salaries the sum of 15,905,303.97. In those figures there are not included the non-enumerated classes of employees, rural postmasters, casual labour, fee office positions and so on, who received in March, 1931, in compensation for their services, a further sum of 81,990,287.51, making a total payment by this government for the civil service, for the month of March, 1931, of $7,895,591.48.
For the purpose of determining who shall be appointed to the civil service of Canada there is prescribed an examination system, and in their nature these examinations are threefold. They may be written, they may be oral, they may be a rating for education and experience, or any combination of any two or three of the methods I have outlined. Oral examinations are held throughout Canada by a local representative of the Civil Service Commission, in conjunction with one or more representatives of the department, and now usually a representative of the Canadian Legion. Rating boards consist of a representative of the commission and one representative or more of the department. According to the theory of the examination system, these rating boards should always have upon them a representative of the commission, and it must be borne in mind that these boards make their ratings on a man's education and experience from an application form which has been submitted by him, in respect of
which there has been little if any check as to the accuracy of the statements therein contained, and these ratings are made without the boards seeing the candidates who are applying for the positions in question.
I said the theory was that there should be on each rating board a representative of the commission, but from the data and material filed with the committee it appeared, in selecting at random some of the rating boards for different years, that on many such boards there was no representative of the commission. For example, in the Department of Agriculture in 1925 there were fifty-five competitions, but there were representatives of the commission on only twenty-six of those boards, while in connection with the fifty-five competitions there were eighty-one departmental representatives on the boards. In the Department of External Affairs during the years 1925, 1926, 1928 and 1930 there were four competitions. On only one of those boards was there a representative of the commission, while on the four boards there were six representatives of the department. In the Insurance department, in the years from 1925 to 1931, there were seven boards, on not one of which was there any examiner other than those appointed to represent the department.
Then there is brought into this examination system what are known as weights. It will be apparent that where the appointment to a position is determined by a percentage based on the combination of an oral examination and the rating given by a rating board, if a man is rated sufficiently high by the board and that rating is given sufficient weight as against the oral examination, while he may have qualified highest in the oral examination he may not get the position as a result of the recommendation of this rating board. For example, in the case of one appointment, of which we had the details before the committee., an appointment was to be made to a position by an oral examination and by a rating for education and experience. The weight given to the oral examination was only three, while the weight given to this rating for education and experience was seven.
May I point out to the house the effect of that weighting. As an illustration let me assume that candidate A is given 80 marks on his oral examination. If you multiply that by the weight of three you get a total of 240. Then let me assume that the rating board gives him a mark of only 60, and bear in mind that this rating board acts upon the application only, with no personal knowledge or observation of the man. If you multiply that mark by the weight of seven you get 420, and adding the two totals together gives
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a grand total of 660. Dividing that by 10 gives candidate A an average of 66 per cent.
Then take candidate B. On the oral examination he receives only 60 marks as against the man who received 80. You multiply that 60 by three and you get a total of 180. We will say that on the rating board he is given a rating of 80; multiply that by seven and you get a total of 560. If you add the 560 to the 180 you get a total of 740. In other words, he receives 74 per cent, but in the result the man who receives the highest mark on the oral examination is by no means declared the successful candidate, because by the operation of this weighting system, he may have a rating for education and experience which will not give him the highest percentage of qualification.
Time is not sufficient to permit me to outline to the house an instance which occurs in the evidence and which illustrates clearly the point I want to make. A. man gets a temporary appointment in a department on the recommendation of a departmental official: consider the fact that two of these departmental officials sit on the rating board as against one representative of the Civil Service Commission, together with the fact that a much higher weight may be given to the mark fixed by the rating board than the mark given by the oral examiners and you at once appreciate the opportunities there are in this system for what I will call, for want of a better word, abuses of the competitive merit system. In the case of written examinations there is little room for abuses. Before leaving the matter I wish to point out to the house the opportunities there are for creating those conditions of which we members of this House of Commons so frequently receive complaint. It is not possible for me, in the short time at my disposal, to deal with all the clauses of the committee's report; therefore I will confine the remainder of my remarks to three or four which, in my opinion, recommend the most marked changes in the present statute or regulations. But just in passing may I refer to one clause of the report which recommends an amendment, because on re-reading it, it occurred to me that it might not express with sufficient clearness the recommendation of the committee. Clause 9 of the report states;
Your committee recommends that section 60 of the Civil Service Act, as enacted by chapter 3S of the statutes 19-20 George Y, be repealed.
The intention of the committee was that the amendment which made possible the putting into the service of the private secretaries of ministers at a minimum salary of S3,120
per annum, should be repealed, but we do not suggest the repeal of that section as it stood prior to the 1929 amendment. The effect of the amendment w'hich the committee recommend will be that in future private secretaries of ministers will not be entitled to preference in appointments to the service, and can obtain admission thereto only through the usual channel of competitive examination.
I should like to refer to clause 18 of the report, in which your committee recommend that the secretary of the Civil Service Commission be called upon to perform only those duties which are peculiarly those of the secretary. The present secretary of the Civil Service Commission is one of the oldest employees in the civil service, in point of years of service, and during the years that he has been in his present position a practice has grown up of loading upon the secretary an enormous number of duties which are in no way related to the position. For example, all correspondence passes through his hands. Your committee can understand that it would be necessary for incoming correspondence to pass through the secretary's hands, but for the life of us we are unable to see why a query with respect to marks which some candidate made on examination should not be referred to the examination branch and replied to direct by the chief examiner. Again, recommendations of the organization branch with respect to matters of reorganization in departments or *with respect to classification pass through the secretary's hands, apparently for his approval or disapproval-matters which surely are entirely within the judgment of the Civil Service Commission. Therefore, in order to relieve this very worthy official of onerous duties which it is unnecessary for him to perform, we recommend to the commission the consideration of the change as suggested in the report.
Clause 20 of the report recommends that there be added to the committees of this house a select special committee on civil service matters. Time was not available to the members of your committee to introduce in evidence before the committee many files which some of us had read and from which it would appear that there were departmental abuses of the competitive merit system, as well as any which may have occurred in the administration of the civil service.
Temporary appointments are obtained on the requisition of a department in cases where, in my opinion, there was not in the beginning a bona fide intention that the employment should be temporary. By requisitions of departments and by statements made accompanying each of these requisitions, the Civil
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Service Commission has been induced from time to time to extend and extend temporary certificates. At the moment I have in mind a case in one department where a young lady had been occupying the position of clerk, grade 3, for upwards of a year. Finally, when the commission insisted that there must be an open competition, the department said, "Very well, hold it." They held a competition, but the young lady who had been in that temporary position ranked second. So then, after much correspondence and delay, the department had this position reclassified and the young lady who had originally held one classified position for upwards of a year was immediately re-appointed temporarily to the new classification, though really doing the same work in the same department for the same pay and under exactly the same conditions.
Your committee did not have time to deal with many of these phases of the matter, but we believe that if there were each year a select special committee of this house sitting in review upon matters such as I have outlined, we should then have taken a great step in curtailing any abuses which may exist in the present competitive merit system.
I come next to clause 25, in which your committee recommend that the orders in council therein specified be amended so as to exempt from the operation of the Civil Service Act the appointment of postmasters in revenue post offices where the revenue does not exceed $3,000 per annum. I know of no better way in which I can illustrate to this house things which have occurred with respect to the appointment of postmasters than to cite three of the many illustrations which hon. members may find in this evidence, if they care to peruse it. In 1926, for example, there was a vacancy for a postmaster at St. Arsene in the constituency of Temiscouata, province of Quebec. Under the system then in existence-it has since been changed slightly-the district superintendent or inspector of the Post Office Department was temporarily absorbed as an official of the Civil Service Commission. This poor, unfortunate man who may be totally unfamiliar with any particular locality or the residents thereof is called upon to go out and interview a number of persons who may be applicants for a position, then to come back and make a recommendation not to the Civil Service Commission, bear in mind, although he is their official, but to the Post Office Department, as to how he rates those individuals in order of merit, from a post office standpoint.
Recently the system has been slightly changed. In the old days he used to say,
"I rate them as follows: John Jones, Bill Smith and William Brown." Now they have imposed upon the poor man a much more onerous duty in which he must rate them by marks. He is called upon to go out and interview six, eight or ten men he has never seen before; he may have to conduct his interviews in the space of two hours, and must give marks. Hon. members may observe that the marks are 90, 87, 85, 83 and so on all down the line.
The inspector had to make a report with respect to the appointment of St. Arsene, and he did so. When he made his report he recommended as first in order of merit Mrs. Roy, the widow of the former postmaster, secondly Mr. Laforest and thirdly Mr. Rioux. He also pointed out that in the case of Mr. Laforest's appointment there would be a decrease in the cost of postal service to the government of $91.42 per annum, but that in the event of Mr. Rioux' appointment there would be an increase in the cost amounting to $60.95 per annum, a difference of approximately $150. The post office inspector further reported that the location offered by the second man in order of merit, Mr. Laforest, was a more central and a better location than that offered by Mr. Rioux. Mrs. Roy-or probably the better French pronunciation would be "Roi"-was disqualified for good and sufficient reasons, as appeared from the evidence. However instead of Mr. Laforest, who was rated second in order of merit, getting the appointment, the appointment of Rioux was made by Commissioners Tremblay and MacTavish by a majority decision from which the chairman of the commission dissented.
I think it might be well if I read to the house the decision of the chairman of the commission in dealing with that particular case. He said:
As Laforest has been placed second in order of merit and his site reported more central than Rioux/ the former costing the department less at present and the latter costing more, his education and experience being, to say the least, equally good with Rioux, I am in favour of Laforest's appointment.
Naturally your committee sought if possible to find a reason for this appointment. I do not know whether or not we have succeeded, but from a letter on the file I found that the then Postmaster General, long before the Civil Service Commission had received the report of the post office inspector upon which their judgment should be based, in writing to the Civil Service Commission said:
As the other two applicants appear to have equal ratings, may I suggest that E. Rioux would seem to meet the wishes of the people there, according to recommendations received.
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Then we find on the file another letter written by a reverend gentleman apparently to the Postmaster General, but finding its way to the files of the Civil Service Commission. In it is the following paragraph:
With my excellent friend, Mr. Jean Francois Pouliot, member of parliament for this county,
I have recommended to yourself and to Mr. J. F.mile Tremblay, a member of the Civil Service Commission, the immediate nomination of Mr. Ed. Rioux as acting postmaster.
In endeavouring to justify his judgment in that case before your committee Commissioner MacTavish told us he favoured the appointment of the second man over the first in order of merit because of the age of Mr. Laforest. However if hon. members would turn to the file of the Civil Service Commission with respect to the appointment of a postmaster at Belwood they would find that in that case Commissioners MacTavish and Tremblay appointed a man 71 years of age, although Laforest's age was only 60 years.
I must hasten on, and shall not take time to deal with the details of those appointments. Commissioner MacTavish attempted to justify that appointment on the ground that there had been a petition on the file in favour of Mr. White at Belwood signed by patrons of the post office. On examination of that petition we found it was signed by 19 persons. Then if hon. members would turn in the evidence to a record of the appointment of a postmaster at East Broughton Station they would find that Commissioners MacTavish and Tremblay recommended in that case the appointment of a man, whereas the other one whom Dr. Roche favoured had a petition filed in his favour signed by 500 patrons of that particular post office.
In view of comments which have been made with respect to this recommendation I think it would be well for me to read the dissenting judgment of the gentleman who was chairman of the commission. He says:
It does not require varied experience for the postmastership of East Broughton Station.
The reference there was to the fact that the man Dr. Roche favoured had had three years' experience. He continues:
Post office experience has always been emphasized by the department as entitling an applicant to preferential consideration. This is one of a number of instances where the order of merit appears difficult to explain except by the fact that the M.P. for the constituency has recommended the applicant who has been placed first. Mr. Vachon who has been assistant postmaster of this office for the last three years and who apparently is "persona grata" with the patrons of the office as evidenced by the petition of 500 in his favour, is in my opinion, entitled to the position.
If hon. members would like further illustrations the record of evidence filed with the committee's report is replete with them.
The next thing I should like to call to the attention of the house in connection with the appointment of postmasters is the recommendation of officials of the Post Office Department to your committee. We had the advantage of having before us Mr. Coolican, Assistant Deputy Postmaster General, and E. J. Underwood, superintendent of post offices for Canada. I cannot take time to read to the house in detail excerpts from the evidence, but if I may paraphrase and at the same time attempt to make a synopsis of it, it is as follows:
Revenue postmasters are not properly described as civil servants. A revenue postmaster has no superannuation, and does not necessarily do the work for which he is paid. Be gets an assistant to do it, and he is not paid from parliamentary appropriations. I do not think it was ever intended that revenue postmasters should be under the civil service.
. . . The above principle was recognized by past civil service commissions in that they recommended that revenue postmasters in offices with a revenue of less than $400 be exempt. ... I say the postmaster up to that point ($3,000 or $3,500) should be removed from the Civil Service Commission. In the matter of appointments they are civil servants, in all other respects they are not. It is impracticable to appoint all these postmasters by present methods.
I still read from the views of those officials:
It is not economical to appoint revenue postmasters under the present system and it involves a large expenditure of money.
Then there came before your committee representatives of the Canadian Postmasters' Association of Canada.
Subtopic: REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON APPOINTMENTS, ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATION OF CIVIL SERVICE ACT