May 30, 1939

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Speaking from my own experience on work of this kind I cannot agree with the hon. member. Once a structure is built, nominal repairs are needed from time to time, and they should be regarded as maintenance. We have a maintenance crew; we pay the foreman 75 cents and the other men 55 cents an hour and retain them the year round. We could follow my hon. friend's suggestion, but it would mean laying off the maintenance crew, because we could not carry a maintenance crew who did not do maintenance work. We could dismiss the men who do permanent work and have the work done by contract men hired as required. My hon. friend is hardly doing the men a service by insisting that on a $4,000 job in connection with a $1,000,000 jetty the work should be taken out of the hands of the maintenance crew and done by contract.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

It does not necessarily have to be done by contract, nor is it necessary to dismiss the maintenance crew. A certain number of maintenance men have to be kept on in any event.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
CCF
LIB
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

When there is general renewal work to be done such as is claimed is the case with this $4,000 job, it cannot be regarded as a small job.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It is small in proportion to a $1,000,000 pier, and it includes materials too.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

It is a considerable job. I contend that the harbours board could

Supply-Transport-Harbours Board

engage these men without letting contracts for the work. There may be a difficulty in that regard with which the minister is better acquainted than I am, but I say that a definite attempt has been made to break down the standard of living that has been built up over a great many years through organization. When labour conditions are broken down on projects carried out under the jurisdiction of the government private employers will be quick to take advantage and establish similar conditions. The government, in the employment of labour, in the wages paid and in the working conditions maintained, should be model employers and should set an example to private employers of labour. If they did so, labour organizations would not have to be continually struggling to maintain standards of living on government works.

I wonder if the minister would not give this matter further consideration. I suppose this particular work is finished now, but there will be other work of the same kind, and I would ask the minister to try to see this matter from perhaps a little different point of view. There is the workers' side of the question. I think if he would try to see the point of view of the organization for whose members I am speaking, we could avoid disputes of this kind in the future. And particularly where the Department of Labour rules that the work on a particular project is not ordinary maintenance work, the harbours board should accept the decision of the Department of Labour.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The harbours board is always willing to cooperate with the Department of Labour. Personally I have never heard of this matter. I understand only one letter was received; a reply was sent and nothing further heard of the matter. I may say I have seen more of this work than my hon. friend will ever see if he lives to be a hundred, because it has been my profession all my life, and I regard this as work which would not ordinarily be sublet; it is a perfectly simple maintenance job, on which the principal expenditure is for material, and has always been done by the Vancouver harbour board. It is the ordinary repairs to a timber dock made annually, done by an ordinary maintenance crew of the elevator or harbour. I see nothing wrong in it, but I assure my hon. friend that I am not going to allow it to be a subject of contention between the unions of Vancouver or the Department of Labour, it is not important enough. If work of any magnitude arises we will certainly give consideration to having it done by contract.

71492-300J

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

I wish to thank the minister for that statement. I do not know what: correspondence he had in this matter-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

-but I am told that there is a whole file of letters which passed between the union and the harbours board. As a matter of fact, I believe most of the letters were unanswered.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The correspondence must have been with the local office. I am told', that only one letter came to Ottawa; that was answered and that ended the correspondence so far as Ottawa is concerned.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink

Item agreed to. National harbours board. 591. To provide for payment to national harbours board of the amounts hereinafter set forth, to be applied in payment of the deficits (after payment of interest due the public but exclusive of interest on dominion government advances and depreciation on capital structures) arising in the calendar year 1939, in the operation of the following harbours: Quebec, $48,626: Churchill, $90,526.


CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

I should like to ask the minister a question about the position of air transport in northern Canada, what is commonly known as our bush flying, which has really been the outstanding development in aviation in Canada since the war, and which, as the minister knows, has meant so much to the country as a whole. I understand that by reason of the rates paid under the air mail contracts, these flying companies in northern Canada are having a great deal of difficulty. The difficulty seems to be that the post office allows underbidding. For instance, if one company has an air mail contract, when the contract expires new tenders are also called from other companies. That may or may not be right, at any rate there is a good deal of complaint. So far as the Trans-Canada Air Lines are concerned, provision is made in their act that any deficit in operation-should be covered by the postal rates, at least after a certain period. I do not remember offhand at what date that provision cornea-into effect, but provision is made for the deficit to be paid out of the post office funds: I believe in the United States special arrangements have been made within the last year for the setting of fair air mail rates based on the service rendered rather than on competitive contracts. Would the minister explain the situation and let us know whether it might not help to have an inquiry into the whole situation, or whether the board of transport commissioners might not be given jurisdiction to decide what is a fair air mail rate

4778 COMMONS

Supply-Transport-Harbours Board

for a particular route? The Postmaster General said the other day that one contract had been referred to the board of transport commissioners, but I understand there is no provision for doing that in any statute. The situation is of enough importance to Canada to make it desirable that it be cleared up.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Too much emphasis is perhaps being placed on air mail rates in the north. The air mail represents only about five per cent of the poundage that is carried by planes in the north. The difficulty there is, first, that too many companies have competed in the same territory. That is the fundamental difficulty. A second difficulty is that as mining becomes more settled the traffic tends to drop. The construction period in a mining [DOT]development is usually the busiest for air 'transport. As they get down to normal operations there is some slackening off in the .tonnage of freight moved by air.

We are endeavouring to straighten out that situation. A year ago we included in the Transport Act regulation of the assigning of routes in the north, the granting of licences for routes, and, second, the regulation of rates. Under the law the rates do not apply to air mail routes covered by the Post Office Act. But we are attempting to cut down the number of operators in the field, lessening the number operating over a particular route, and providing that no new operator will be licensed for that route or territory unless he can show need and public convenience, which will be very difficult to show for a couple of years. That is, he will have to show that the route is not adequately served by existing facilities.

In the matter of rates a study is now being made by the transport commission with the operators as to rates prepared for publication in the northern area. When these rates are published, it is the intention to enforce them and require the operator to charge the rates he publishes. This plan does not immediately eliminate competition. Under the section, if two air lines are operating over the route each is entitled to a licence, but it will at least prevent more operators from entering the field.

So far as air mail rates are concerned, they are, of course, the rates the operator offers for the performance of the service. No doubt it seemed like a good bargain at the time; if he is a little tired of it now, it is not the fault of the Post Office Department, because that department has not forced any air mail rate on any operator. However, as the contracts fall in, the competition will not be as intense as before, because in order to compete

the operator must have a licence for the route; in other words, an operator cannot compete for an air mail route unless he holds a licence to fly that route. In one contract that fell in recently, the Post Office Department asked the advice of the transport board as to a reasonable rate for its renewal. I dare say that policy will be followed in the future if it works out to the satisfaction of the Post Office Department.

In any event more has been done in the last year to straighten out the situation of the northern flyer than has ever been undertaken before, and I think that another year of operation will improve the situation greatly. But we cannot get away from the fundamental condition that there are. too many companies operating in the north on the same routes, and that as mining becomes more settled there is apt to be a falling off of traffic.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
CON

Howard Charles Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

Are licences issued also by

the aviation branch of the Department of Transport? I understood the minister to say that they are issued by the board of transport commissioners; is it also necessary that an operator get a licence from the Department of Transport?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The routes are licensed by

the board of transport commissioners. In addition, the operator must have a licence, indicating the air worthiness of the machine. Each machine must be licensed. He must have a different kind of licence from each.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
CON

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROOKS:

I am in the same position

as the hon. member for Vancouver South. I should like to ask the minister a question with regard to railway crossings, but the item has been passed. May we revert to item 585, which has reference to the following:

Amount to be applied towards the actual cost of construction work for the protection, safety and convenience of the public in respect of highway crossings of railways as the governor in council may from time to time determine.

I would refer particularly to a condition at Fairvale, New Brunswick, near the city of Saint John. I do not know whether this item is broad enough to cover the situation there. At that point the road runs under the railway ; the opening is very narrow, and I believe it is considered one of the most dangerous spots on the roads of New Brunswick. There have been many accidents at that point, and parents of school children do not permit them to go under the railway, because of the dangerous situation. The result is that on their way to school they pass over the railway. Possibly the minister will remember that a number of meetings were held in that community to discuss the situation, and I

International Labour Conjerence

believe a petition, was forwarded to the minister asking that something be done. Would a situation of that kind come under this vote, and if so, will anything be done this summer in an effort to eliminate the dangerous situation at Fairvale?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

In other years the grade crossing vote could not apply unless it involved the elimination of a crossing. For that reason it would not apply to the project the hon. member has described, because the crossing is there and the necessary work would involve only an improvement. I might say that last year we broadened the scope of the million dollar vote so that we could take care of projects of the kind described. For that reason the application would be a proper one to bring before the board of transport commissioners. I have no recollection of having received an application in the matter; but in any event it should be sent to the board, rather than to me, because it has under its control the administration of the grade crossing fund. If the proper authorities will make application to the board of transport commissioners, or if they will renew an application already made, I am sure their representations will receive due consideration.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRANSPORT
Permalink

May 30, 1939