February 5, 1937

SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

I do not think the minister understood my question clearly, but I can understand that as there was considerable confusion in the committee. The minister has intimated his intention of giving us a more simple statement and I was asking if he would recommend the use of excise stamps only on cheques, and abolish the practice of using postage stamps. I have made an inquiry at various banks throughout the country and I understand that stamps used on cheques run about forty per cent postage stamps. I understand the revenue derived from the sale of excise stamps goes into the consolidated revenue fund, while that derived from the sale of postage stamps goes into the Post Office Department. When I see an item of $27,000,000 for stamps with a surplus of one and three quarter millions, it might well be that the department could show a deficit rather than a profit. I would suggest that either post office stamps or excise stamps be used exclusively.

Topic:   $1.78S,000.
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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

I understand for a time it was not permissible to use postage stamps on cheques, but many complaints were made, particularly in the rural

[The Chairman.]

districts, as to the difficulty in obtaining excise stamps. I think the preponderance of public opinion is in favour of the system as it now exists. I shall be glad to discuss with the Minister of Finance as to whether it is possible to make some arrangement which will clarify the situation as to the revenue derived from each source.

With regard to what has been said by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green), there is always a possibility of making some changes which will be of advantage to both parties. I have not found any lack of cooperation among those who are getting time off for Saturday afternoons and the holiday service that they give, and I think it will be found that they prefer a week's holiday at a time to a half day some Saturday afternoon and odd holidays at other times. I repeat that we shall cooperate with them as far as we can and do the best possible under any circumstances which may arise. We came to the conclusion that we must immediately adopt a system of working on Saturday afternoons and holidays, and we shall make such improvements as we can in agreement with the men engaged in the work.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Is it not possible to work

with skeleton staffs on statutory holidays and on Saturdays?

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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

In the smaller places that is being done.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

But is it necessary to have a delivery on statutory holidays? Take any holiday, even Christmas; I think the great majority of our people were accustomed to doing without mail on Christmas day. They would rather have the postman get his day off.

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LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT (Middlesex):

As regards

the suggestion of skeleton staffs, I can agree with my hon. friend to a large extent so far as the offices are concerned, but in view of our experience so far, I cannot agree with him as regards doing away with deliveries on holidays.

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CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

But let us take deliveries on, say, July 1. Is there any reason why the ordinary home owner should get mail on July 1?

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LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

It seems to me that the only "skeleton" there will be in the mail service will be the rural mail delivery man. He is the one about whom I am concerned. Much time has been taken up in discussion about these postal men working on Christmas day. It is a repetition of the same old thing; anything that emanates from the urban centres must receive a great deal of consideration.

Supply-Post Office

Yet these postal men get pretty good pay; they also receive free suits of clothes, and I do not think they are deserving of nearly as much consideration as those engaged on rural mail delivery.

I have only two minutes, but I want to take this opportunity of supporting the views of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) with regard to the position our rural mail delivery service is in. We discussed that for a few minutes, but we spent an hour and a half talking about postal service in the cities. In my constituency there is a man who drives the rural mail over a route of twenty-one miles for $445, or $1.40 a day. I appreciate the stand taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Heaps) on behalf of labour, but I do not know why there is so much consideration for these people who happen to live in the specially privileged centres. Lots of farmers have to milk cows on Christmas day and hurry around in preparing Christmas dinner, very often for visiting aunts and uncles. There should be a little consideration for the class to which I have referred, and I hope the Postmaster General (Mr. Elliott) will appreciate the situation with which we are faced. It looks as though there is going to be an increase in the cost of living. What will be the position of these rural mail carriers when they find the cost of living has become so high that they cannot maintain themselves? It is not very difficult for some high-salaried men to get bonuses. The city postal service employees, I believe, come under the Civil Service Act and are entitled to superannuation. But the rural mail man is not protected in any way. As soon as he is off his job, well, he is off, and whether or how he lives does not seem to give anybody any concern.

The minister has been extremely kind and has given us a great deal of latitude in discussing his department. I very much appreciate his attitude and have nothing but praise for the manner in which he is conducting his department. I do not think there have been many complaints in regard to political patronage. In my constituency, at least, there has been no evidence of it.

I should like to get a statement from the minister as to what will be done on behalf of these poorly paid rural mail carriers in view of the way the cost of living is going up.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

It is quite evident that hon. gentlemen are not going to allow an item to pass to-night. That moves me to say something, in moving that the committee rise, which I think should be said in the interests of the conduct of this committee. The misunderstanding which occurred this evening arose entirely out of our having permitted discussion on an item which was not before the committee. Had discussion been confined to item 16, there would not have been in anyone's mind any question as to whether that item had been passed. In spite of that, for practically the whole of this evening, and most of a former evening, during which post office estimates were before the committee, discussion was permitted over the whole range of the Post Office Department, although according to the rules we should have been discussing item 16, which would have restricted the discussion to the subject matter of the item. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that there is only one way by which to avoid in future misunderstandings of that kind, and that is to hold the discussion strictly to the item under discussion. I believe it would be in the interests of all of us if that were done, and would prevent future misunderstandings. I move that the committee rise,, and report progress and ask leave to sit again.. It is understood that item 16 is carried.

Progress reported.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Monday, February 8, 1937


February 5, 1937