February 5, 1937

LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

I shall be glad to give that information, and I want the committee to understand that as far as I am concerned I consider all these questions helpful. I must confess that frequently I find myself in doubt in regard to many matters. Even after having been in the department for a year, I do not know it nearly as well as I should think would be possible for a person who had been there longer.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I understand there is one gentleman in the department who hardly knows the minister.

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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

Certainly he is missing a great deal.

Supply-Post Office

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am told that it is involuntary on his part.

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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

It must be. The total revenue for the year 1936-37 is:

Postage stamps, postcards, etc. . . $28,205,589 10 Postage paid in cash on newspapers 1,808,570 77

Postage paid in cash on third

class printed matter 920,590 86

Postage paid in cash on metred

mail

4,032,781 43Postage paid in cash on parcels.. 3,372,791 51Postage paid on gold shipments.. 35,989 65

Rents on letter boxes and

drawers 313,403 83

Commission received on money

orders 1,484,457 55

Commission received on postal

notes 295,000 00

Commission received on foreign

money order business 5,921 97

Profit in exchange on money order transactions with other

countries 24,707 11

Postage on parcels from other

countries

439,954 28Transit charges on correspondence from other countries. . . 180,525 80

Collections from the sale of rural

mail boxes

18,556 00Lapsed postal notes

8,000 00Lapsed money orders

15,706 49Miscellaneous revenue

15,653 05

Deductions

Salaries and allowances paid to

postmasters at revenue offices. $6,353,740 02Discount to stamp vendors and postmasters and compensation to messengers for special delivery of letters

321,006 29Losses by fire, burglary, etcetera. 2.484 14

Loss in exchange on foreign

money orders

916 77Commission paid to other countries on money order business. 12,545 94

Postage on parcels to other

countries 82,096 99

Transit charges on correspondence to other countries.... 74,745 04

Indemnity paid to owners on

lost insured parcels 20,629 37

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is the break-down?

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

To-night we have listened to a profitable discussion. The contribution made by the leader of the opposition in bringing to our attention the manner in which post offices are run in New Zealand and Australia should prompt the committee to inquire into ways and means of operating this great public utility on a more businesslike basis. I have not been a member of the house for very long, but during my short stay I have had all kinds of persons speak to me regarding the manner in which rural mail contracts and post office appointments are undertaken and made. As I am a non-government

member, of course that does not mean that one has been approached for such appointments, but it does mean that in Canada, to a great extent apparently, the post office is looked upon as an arm for political patronage.

It seems to me that in all probability many of our troubles in the Post Office Department proceed from that particular cause. Where you have that kind of appointment and' that kind of operation I believe you have inefficiency. As one who a few years ago had to make some investigation of the civil services of both New Zealand and Australia, I know that the efficiency of their services is due largely to the fact that they have been removed from political patronage. The sooner hon. members face the matter squarely and realize that we shall never have our post office or any other institution efficient until we remove political patronage from the service, the sooner shall we have the service for the benefit and use of the people of Canada.

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

No, it is not. The fact that we had the statement brought down in the way in which it has been brought down in the last two years proves that we know nothing about the service in detail. The discussion we have had to-night regarding subsidies and payments for the carrying of mail shows that so far as we are concerned we have no conception of the business basis of the Post Office Department. When an organization such as that department cannot produce before the House of Commons a statement giving us a more approximate idea of the relative costs of the various services, and the relative receipts, such department is not efficient.

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

To a very large degree I attribute it to political patronage within the service.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

Included in>

the item is the salary of the superintendent of air mail service. I do not know whether I am entitled to discuss that phase of the matter at this time, but-

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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

That amount was passed under the civil government vote; however, so far as I am concerned I have no objection. The only point I make is that I should not like the doors to be opened wide, and to go back to discuss all persons who come under the civil government vote.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. ISNOR:

I purpose discussing it, not in a personal way, but rather from the standpoint of the service. Before doing so I should like to express my pleasure at seeing the increased revenue derived1 by this department in the past year. I know that in the east we had an exceptionally busy Christmas season. The Nova Scotia newspapers gave glowing accounts of the efficient servige rendered by the post office employees, and I wish to take exception to the remarks of the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Mr. ISNOR;

when he speaks of the inefficiency of employees of the department. I come in close touch with the Post Office Department in Halifax, the centre for Nova Scotia, and! I want to say that we have an exceptionally efficient and loyal staff. I believe the same condition applies equally throughout the whole province.

May I point out that we of the province of Nova Scotia appreciate the air mail service given in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, but unfortunately that service has not yet reached Nova Scotia. Ours is still the only province in Canada which is not served by air mail. May I draw particularly to the attention of the minister the fact that I believe we are entitled to the service, along regular lines. However, at this time the department has received from one of the air mail lines an offer under which it will not cost Canada a single cent to provide air mail service to Nova Scotia. With an offer such as that before it, I fail to understand why the government has not accepted the service and put it into operation in Nova Scotia. I draw the matter to the attention of the Postmaster General in the hope that he will not lose much time in giving air mail service to our province.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

May I make a correction, because I do not wish to be misunderstood. I was not criticizing the efficiency of the permanent employees under the civil service commission, but was discussing more particularly the service in the rural areas and the patronage to steamship and railway lines. I was not referring to the general, permanent service.

Mr. BOTHWELL; What particular complaint has the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar about the rural service, and where does he believe the Post Office Department loses money through any patronage he might have seen exercised in his district?

Mr. COLDWrELL: I am pleased to answer that question. I would say that efficient people carrying the mail and running the post offices are changed sometimes when there are changes of government. It requires a considerable amount of time for a man or a woman to become efficient in a new job. Every time there is a change a new official must be trained, and I say that is a source of inefficiency. It lowers the morale of the whole service.

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LIB

Charles Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

I can speak only of conditions as I know them, and I must say that I am not very favourably impressed by some of the work that has been done by the civil service commission. In the constituency which I have the honour to represent I know of instances where men have been appointed by the civil service commission to jobs for which they were in no way qualified. I know of one man who obtained marks of 98 per cent in the examination and yet was passed by in favour of a man who knew practically nothing about the work to be done. That is aside from the Post Office Department. I have represented my constituency since 1925 and during that time there have been only two changes in postmasters. These changes were not made because of political patronage. One man was using the post office as a recruiting ground for a political party, and when the citizens of the district protested he refused to desist. Such a man was not fitted for the post he held and he was dismissed. If that could be called political patronage, then there was political patronage. After looking over the situation for many years in my constituency, I have not seen any inefficiency. I do not believe the charge made by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar is correct, unless the situation in other parts of the country is different from that which I have observed in mine.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I should like to say a word or two on behalf of the rural mail carriers. These carriers do not come under the civil service; they are not appointed through patronage, which might perhaps be better; they carry on under the tender system. There are men in this country carrying the mails for less than the service is worth. They also have to make a considerable capital investment to provide motor cars. These people should be protected even against themselves. I should like to see the Postmaster General (Mr. Elliott) give some consideration to these rural mail carriers.

Another point to which I should like to refer is the order in council which stipulates that twenty per cent of the permanent staff

Supply-Post Office

must be temporary. This places a great hardship on many postal employees. Some of them must work ten, fifteen or twenty years before they are placed on the permanent staff. During those years they are precluded from contributing to the superannuation fund. I ask the Postmaster General if something cannot be done to permit men who have been postmen for, say three, four, five or six years to be placed on the permanent staff and not to allow them to go into old age while still on the temporary list.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

As a new member I was

surprised that I did not have to pay any postage on the letters I posted. If the Postmaster General and his staff did not do anything but carry the letters of the 245 members of this house, they would certainly be deserving of commendation. A dollar a day for 245 members-the hon. member for Huron North (Mr. Deachman) is not here-for 100 days, which would be a short session, would mount up into the millions.

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February 5, 1937