There are three types of life saving stations: the permanent station with a permanent crew, the seasonal station, where men are employed only for the season, and the voluntary life saving crew. I imagine the items referred to by my hon. friend cover the voluntary stations. In these cases an honorarium is paid to the captain. The other members of the crew serve voluntarily, being paid $2 per drill.
In the details of this item I notice that the total increase in the vote goes to the Quebec service. I think the minister will agree with me when I say that the
service given on the British Columbia coast-*
I believe the Pacific Salvage Company is the company-is entitled to a portion of this increase. The item shows a $20,000 increase, and the details indicate that $50,000 is to go to the Quebec station while only $15,000 is to go to the British Columbia station. If the minister can assure me that these details are not final, I shall have very little to say. For many years I have urged that consideration be given to granting an increase on the Pacific coast. The company maintains an expensive and excellent plant which covers a large territory, and in my opinion-I have given the matter a great deal of study-it is entitled to an amount equal to that which is to be granted to the eastern concern, which I understand is located on the St. Lawrence near Quebec City. I protest very strongly against there being no increase for the British Columbia firm. For many years this company has rendered splendid service. The grant to the eastern plant has been increased by $20,000, which is more than the total amount being paid to the British Columbia plant. The Quebec plant will now receive $50,000 whereas the British Columbia plant will receive only $15,000, the amount which it has been receiving for some time. I should like the minister to explain why there has been an increase in the grant to the eastern plant. I am not putting this matter on an east and west basis, but rather on a consideration of the services rendered. There is no question about the quality of the service rendered by the firm on the Pacific coast. [DOT]
The government is justified in subsidizing salvage equipment only to the extent that is necessary to make sure that salvage equipment will be available to protect a given trade route. The season on the St. Lawrence lasts only about seven months. The channel is an artificial channel, and it is essential to shipping and to the maintenance of reasonable insurance rates that adequate salvage equipment be maintained. The subsidy paid on the St. Lawrence has varied from $40,000 to $60,000 per annum; I believe it was cut down to its present level of $30,000 about 1932. For several years we have been receiving serious protests from this company. They claim that they have not earned sufficient from their salvage operations to meet their operating expenses. The salvage boat on the St. Lawrence has become out of date. A number of wrecks occurred last season for which salvage action was not as prompt as was thought desirable. It is proposed -that new equipment shall be placed on the St. Lawrence, and the subsidy was increased to an amount which it was thought would justify this additional equipment.
As far as the Pacific and Atlantic coast salvage operations are concerned, the situation is quite different. Instead of being limited to a small area, these boats operate over considerable distances. I believe the salvage boat at Victoria operates as far south as San Francisco and as far north as Alaska. The subsidy paid to this company was $10,000 per year for the ten years up to July, 1935, at which time it was increased to $15,000 per annum. A ten-year contract was entered into between the salvage company and the federal government to cover salvage services at the rate of $15,000 per annum. Strong representations have been made that this subsidy is inadequate, but the salvage company of its own free will chose to enter into a ten-year contract. The officers of my department find it difficult to vary a contract in a way which would not be to the advantage of the crown.
been an annual contract, renewable at the end of each fiscal year. No contractual obligations have been entered into with the company on the St. Lawrence at this time, and unless suitable contractual arrangements are made the subsidy will not be increased if provision is not made for a more adequate boat. I have told the representatives of the Pacific Salvage Company that if the St. Lawrence contract is revised we will consider a revision of their contract, although just what we can do about it, in view of their ten-year contract with the government, personally I have not been able to decide.
The argument which the minister adduces for the contract on the St. Lawrence applies with equal force on the west coast. He points out that there are only seven months' navigation on the St. Lawrence. On the west coast the navigation period is twelve months, the year round, and the salvage company must maintain its equipment ready for instant service at any time, complete with crews, steam upon its tugs, and so forth. Its equipment is efficient and up to date in every respect, and it is giving an extremely valuable service.
Another thing. This company operates on the difficult coast of the constituency of my hon. friend from Comox-Alberni, on the west coast of Vancouver island, one of the most
dangerous coasts on this continent in the winter season. It operates also on six to seven hundred miles of inland waters between Vancouver island, Queen Charlotte islands and the mainland, where there is very heavy traffic not only in coastwise but in deep sea shipping, which frenquently passes through the inside channel. So that the service rendered is comparable with that rendered on the St. Lawrence, and it has to be maintained twelve months in the year, with the equipment kept in first-class shape ready for service at any moment. I urge the minister to consider the desirability of making provision in his supplementary estimates for an increased subsidy for this service. There will no doubt be further supplementaries; there always are, and I would urge upon the minister that he include in the supplementaries a further grant for the Pacific Salvage on the Pacific coast. I repeat that I cannot speak too highly of the splendid service they have rendered over a period of many years. I have long been of the opinion that they have not been paid a sufficient subsidy, and we have had the question up on many occasions in years gone by. They made this contract for a ten-year period simply because they had no alternative. That was the contract offered to them, and they had to take it; there is no question about that. Particularly in view of the increased subsidy for the St. Lawrence service, the present contract should not prevent the government from revising it and increasing the subsidy for the service on the Pacific coast.
I am making this appeal to the minister on very high grounds, on the merits of the efficient service that is rendered.
The department agrees entirely with my hon. friend as to the efficiency of the service rendered. But the argument that he has used in favour of a subsidy could perhaps be used as an argument why a subsidy is unnecessary; that is, the service is on a very dangerous coast where the boat traffic is heavy, and therefore there are better chances of commercial earnings through wrecks than on the St. Lawrence, with its shorter season of navigation, and the much more limited area served. We have a similar condition on the Atlantic. There a very efficient salvage service is carried on by a private firm with no subsidy whatever, and the reason no subsidy is granted is that the commercial earnings in that area seem to the department to be sufficient to warrant this company, in maintaining the service independently of any help from the government. But of course we receive annually very strong representations from the maritimes to subsidize this operation.
I can say to my hon. friend from Kootenay East, however, in view of the splendid service the boats on the Pacific coast are rendering that if there is any revision of any salvage contract we shall once more go seriously into the contract with Pacific Salvage Company.
To what extent are passenger steamships inspected? A return was tabled in the house showing that the steamboat plying between Toronto and Port Dalhousie was built in the year 1891. This boat carries a large number of passengers in the summer, and there is the possibility of danger at some future time to passengers using it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Has the boat on this service, which is a short run of thirty miles, been inspected and found to be fully equipped and adequate to take care of the passenger traffic during the summer months?
The act provides for the testing of boilers and machinery, the construction and working of the ship; the inspection of hulls and equipment of steamships; the inspection of machinery and equipment; the examination and certification of steamship engineers, and inspection of the tackle used in loading and unloading. The standards for boats carrying passengers such as my hon. friend refers to are set out in the regulations made under the Canada Shipping Act. The boats are inspected each year for hull and equipment, and every four years the boat is dry docked for a complete inspection of the boiler, tailshaft and all machinery. I have no knowledge of this particular boat, but I can assure my hon. friend that it has been duly inspected and that our inspectors have reported it safe for carrying passengers.