May 23, 1932

LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I was not a member of the committee, but evidently the matter did not come before it in all its phases. I presume it would have to consider the regulations adopted by certain departments whereby they extend the territory. Take, for instance, the main post office in Ottawa. It is included in a certain zone, so that persons, even from a district outside the city limits, can apply for an Ottawa position and still be considered as being residents of the Ottawa district. The

same thing applies in the case of the Department of National Revenue. In New Brunswick, Saint John being the head office for the Department of National Revenue, it has happened, and it can happen again, that people in Saint John city may apply and become revenue officers or subcollectors of customs in the county of Charlotte, just as in the case brought up by the hon. member for that constituency. In the past that was not considered a violation of the act or regulations. Of course there is no provision in this clause to meet that situation. This is no time to try to amend the bill in that respect, but I would suggest that the provision be allowed to operate for a year and then, if any injustices occur, we can amend it.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

This is simply a general provision to cover a specific case. As no one knows better than the hon. member for Gloucester, the Civil Service Commission has discretion and authority to carry this provision into effect, and it also has authority to make, concerning this, rules and regulations which must necessarily from time to time receive the approval of the governor in council. The committee undoubtedly intended to lay down a general line of policy, leaving it to the commission to work out that policy by rules and regulations which will later be framed. The words "so far as practicable" leave the commission a certain discretion in such a case as that to which the hon. member for Gloucester has referred.

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UFA

Michael Luchkovich

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. LUCHKOVICH:

How would this

clause apply to returned soldiers? If a returned soldier living in a city heard of a vacancy in a village and applied for that position, would he have precedence over applicants who actually resided locally or would he have to reside in that particular locality?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I suggest that the returned

soldier would have no preference in a locality in which he did not reside.

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LIB

Section agreed to. Sections 5 and 6 agreed to. On section 7-Vacation leave.


?

An hon. MEMBER:

What is the idea of

putting in "in a tropical country"?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

That amendment I believe

was introduced at the suggestion of the Department of Trade and Commerce which maintains certain offices in hot countries where it is advisable to give one month's holiday on account of climatic conditions.

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Section agreed to. Civil Service Act On section 8-Gratuity in lieu of retiring leave.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I ask the

Secretary of State if this clause is intended to enable the government to make immediate appointments once clerks are retired?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

It was pointed out before the committee by deputy heads of departments that at present a retiring official has the right to a certain length of leave according to the number of his years of service, the maximum being six months' leave. It has been found very difficult at times to administer a department during the term of leave of absence of a retiring official as under the existing law there is no power of appointment until the leave of the retiring official has expired. It was suggested before the committee, and upon consideration the government, thought it advisable to provide that an official upon retirement should be allowed to retire at once, so that in case there is need of a new appointment at once it could be made, the retiring official receiving a gratuity in lieu of leave of absence.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

What my hon. friend says as to the difficulty in administration, as I recall it, is correct. I hope, however, that this provision will not be used by the government to retire too many officials all at once.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I may say, Mr. Chairman,

that that suggestion is certainly not applicable to my administration of my office because I have not retired any officials. Death has retired quite a number, and even in these cases I have refrained from making new appointments so far as it was possible so to do consistent with maintaining efficiency.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I hope that the example of the Secretary of State in the particular he has mentioned will be followed by other ministers.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I am glad that this amendment is being made to the act because my experience as head of the Post Office Department would certainly suggest its advisability. Knowing how difficult it was to administer the act and do justice to those applying for positions that had been vacated by the retirement of officials, I was seriously considering during my latter years of office attempting to have such an amendment made to the act, and I am glad, therefore, that it has been made.

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Section agreed to. On section 9-Suspension of employees in remote districts.


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I would like to ask the necessity for this clause. Who asked for it?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan (Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

The necessity arises out of

the fact that in remote districts where there has been malfeasance of office, theft or other dereliction of duty of a very material kind, no suspension of such officer can be effected at present until it is reported to the head office and the deputy minister or the head of the department takes measures to suspend such an official. This amendment authorizes the chief officer of the department in a remote district to suspend the official and report the suspension to the deputy head in Ottawa for further definite action.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I am entirely opposed to

this idea. I do not think this amendment is justified. There is no part of Canada, or very few parts at all events, that are not now in reach of communication by wire, and how long would it take for the chief officer, the little petty man out in a remote place, to wire to Ottawa to get consent to suspend? Are we going to go back to the old days of the divine right of kings when, if the King's porridge was not cooked to his taste, he said "Behead the cook"? I visualize a situation somewhat like this: This amendment talks

about the chief officer, but actually he may be a very petty, inferior officer. One day he may get out of bed on the wrong side or he may have had a quarrel with his wife, or he may be drunk with a little brief authority and power, and he suspends one of his officials. The deputy minister has power to remove the suspension, but the man would not be paid in the meantime, and the head out in the remote district, having ordered the suspension, would naturally endeavour to make good on it and have it confirmed. Nine times out of ten the man would get a raw deal. Nothing is going to happen even if a man who has stolen money is left on the staff for a few hours longer until authority is received from Ottawa for his suspension. I do not think this amendment is justified. It is going to lead to a lot of trouble and a lot of injustice.

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LIB

Edgar-Rodolphe-Eugène Chevrier

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

The law as it now stands, section 51 of the act, reads:

The head of a department, and in his absence the deputy head, may

(a) suspend from the performance of his duty any officer, clerk or employee guilty of misconduct or negligence in the performance of his duties.

Civil Service Act

It was brought to the attention of the committee by the civil service commissioners and by certain deputy ministers that particularly in cases of surveys in far-distant portions of Canada, when an employee became unruly or no more worthy of retaining his position, the officer in charge of the party could not suspend him but had to communicate with the deputy head at Ottawa. That took time and in the meantime the man was continued on as an unruly subject. On the recommendation of the officers of the departments and also in conformity with the representations made by the civil service commissioners for the better administration of the act, the committee felt justified in making this recommendation because the law, section 51, also provides in paragraph (b) that the head of the department may remove such suspension. The recommendation now made does not alter the remaining portion of paragraph (b) of section 51 which reads:

. . . but no person shall receive any salary or pay for the time or any part of the time during which he was under suspension unless the commission is of opinion that such suspension was unjust.

The amendment simply means that for the time being the superior officer will have the right to suspend, but the whole case will have to be referred to Ottawa and will not be disposed of until the head of the department and the commission have passed thereon.

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May 23, 1932