May 31, 1939

CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNTS:

Two hundred dollars.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

This goes a little further. I do not know how that amount of $700 was arrived at, but the principle is the same. I return to what I believe to be the sound principle, that all these appointments should be made by the civil service commission.

It is said that to do this would involve expense. But I find myself very much in accord with the remarks of the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Glen) who in the committee was very active in bringing out information. And the quotation which he gave here to-day showing that the additional expense would be about $5,000 a year, surely disposes of any argument on that ground.

There are two other recommendations in the report, Nos. 12 and 13, which are calculated to improve conditions very much and to dispel grievances or imaginary grievances in connection with appointments and promotions in the service, particularly promotions. It does not make much difference whether it is a real grievance or not if a civil servant is of the opinion that he has a grievance. If he has a suspicion or a belief or some reason to believe that he is not being fairly treated, it does not make much difference whether that belief is sound or not, if there is no way open

Civil Service-Report of Committee

to him to 'have the matter investigated, to have his contention considered, to present an appeal and have his case disposed of. Undoubtedly in the past that has been the cause of much trouble and ill feeling in the service. These clauses 12 and 13 are well calculated to remove that ground of grievance by making new or additional provisions in connection with the rating of civil servants from year to year, and providing a tribunal within the service to which a civil servant may appeal for the consideration of his complaint and anything that he considers unjust or unfair in connection with his grading or his promotion. That recommendation is calculated to improve conditions and to bring about a better feeling within the service.

I am not sure that the appointment of a standing committee to meet every year is necessary. It is well that conditions in the civil service should remain settled, and it is doubtful whether, with the system that will prevail if this report is adopted and implemented by the necessary legislation, if any, there will be much to be gained by an annual review, the calling of the officials of the civil service and the airing of grievances. I think the machinery will be ample for the adjustment of all these matters; and the general principles of the merit system having been adopted it appears that we might safely leave any further action to depend upon special conditions as they develop. The machinery of parliament is extensive enough now. Members find it difficult indeed to discharge their duties in the house and in the various committees, and with the experience of twenty years and the settling and establishment of conditions and of the practice and rules of the service, I doubt very much whether it is necessary or in the interests of the service that we should have these annual reviews. It seems to me that to do so might afford opportunity for contention, for discussions of a minor character, and the unnecessary taking up of the time and attention of members of this house.

I find myself very much in favour of the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Marquette, .and shall be pleased to vote for it.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB-PRO

George William McDonald

Liberal Progressive

Mr. G. W. McDONALD (Souris):

I am not a member of the committee, but I think every hon. member of the house has been brought more or less into touch with the civil service by way of correspondence and personal contact with civil servants. Whether we like it or not, we have to do with it more or less. Certainly I do not believe that the patronage system is any good to any member

of parliament. On the contrary I believe it will do us all harm. We should like to see the civil service on a high plane. I believe most hon. members would gladly get rid of the patronage system. But when we hand it over to someone else we naturally and rightly expect that there shall be no patronage in it. Yet we are human, even members of parliament, even the ministers and the commission; and as long as we are human I cannot see that we can be strictly impartial and live up to the merit system. I do not think anyone could claim that. But while all this is true, I think we would do well to adopt the splendid report which has been brought in by this committee.

I am very much in favour of the recommendation which says that when a civil servant has for some reason resigned from the service and afterwards finds he has made a mistake and would like to get back, our laws should not be so inflexible-should not be like the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. When a man leaves the service, so long as he did not leave through bad conduct or inefficiency, but was a good civil servant when he left, reinstatement should be open to him, and I should be glad to see the government act on this recommendation.

Then I know there are many civil servants holding long-term temporary appointments. If there is anything which will work against the making of efficient civil servants it is this, and it should be attended to as soon as possible. I know there are people who have been working eight years for $60 a month. That just cannot be done in Ottawa. You might do it in the country towns, such as I come from, but it cannot be done here. I do not believe any people who have to work for such low wages can give adequate service in return, and in addition I am told they have to work overtime with no extra pay. We know there are many in the service who are getting very high salaries. I have no fault to find with that; we all like to get high salaries, but I believe the government should set an example in fair play. I am told that very often these lower salaried men do the work of higher paid officials, but they do not get the higher pay. That is not fair, and I hope that, between them, the government and the commission will see that justice is done.

I am at a loss to understand how the civil service commission can make promotions in a fair and impartial manner. Civil servants work under the direction of the departmental heads, and I do not see how the commission

4796 COMMONS

Civil Service-Report oj Committee

can intelligently make promotions; I do not see how it can foe done. Of course I know they act on the recommendation of the head of the department, but I think there should foe more cooperation. I am speaking without a great deal of knowledge, tout I should like to see the power of the civil service commission reduced so that they would work more in harmony with those in charge of the various departments when promotions are to foe made.

There are discrepancies as between the salaries paid in different departments, but I have touched upon that point and I need not delay the house further. I would strongly recommend, however, that the government and the civil service commission clear up, if not all, at least some of the most glaring abuses that we find in the service to-day.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

I desire to say a few words in regard to this report, but before doing so I should like to add a word to what has been said by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Glen) in commendation of the work of the chairman of this committee. I have been on every civil service committee set up since 1932, and I do not think I ever served under a chairman whom I found more agreeable, more efficient in the discharge of his duties and more desirous of helping the committee get on with its work than the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Fournier).

This report contains the conclusions of the special committee which sat during the session of 1938, which was continued during the present session. The hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart) referred to section 1 of the report, which recommends that this foe made a standing committee to sit every session and look into the operation of the Civil Service Act. I did not oppose this recommendation in committee; I have an open mind on it. I believe certain benefits might result if this were done, and I can also see possible disadvantages. I think either the benefits or the disadvantages would depend largely on how wisely the committee approached its work. We might have a standing committee that would go into the matter unreasonably, and do harm. On the other hand we might have a standing committee, as would probably be the case, such as we had this year, that would realize its own linaitations in dealing with matters affecting the civil service.

I think it was to be regretted that when the committee met last year certain statements were made in regard to the civil service commission and emploj'ees of that department before those officials were called as witnesses. I believe, however, that if there was any outstanding feature of the investigation of last year it was the very favourable impression

made upon the committee by the chairman of the commission and some of the senior officials. I need not mention names, but I am sure those who sat with me on the committee will agree with that statement. Hon. members will recall that the committee of 1932 made special reference to the capabilities of the present chairman of the commission, who at that time was chief examiner, and I think the former Conservative government are to be commended for appointing Mr. Bland to his present position. I hope future governments will follow the precedent of making appointments to posts of this kind from the service itself, which I am satisfied contains abundant tried material which will give greater satisfaction than appointments made for political purposes.

There are two sections of the report of which I do not approve, sections 4 and 8. Section 4 deals with perhaps a minor question. It reads:

That the commission may, on the written request of the department concerned, and subject to the approval of the treasury board, appoint without competition any person who has already held a permanent position in the civil service and who has resigned, to the same or a similar position within the department, provided however that such written request shall state fully the reasons for such appointment, and that such person is deserving of such appointment, is not over fifty-five years of age, is of good character, and in good physical condition, and the commission on being satisfied that such appointment is in the public interest, may appoint such person.

At one o'clock the house took recess.

The house resumed at three o'clock.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. MacINNIS:

Mr. Speaker, when the

house rose at one o'clock I had just finished reading section 4 of the report of the special committee which recommends that when a civil servant has resigned from the service he or she may re-enter by appointment by the commission without examination provided certain conditions are complied with. I said that I was opposed to this recommendation because I believed it to be a negation of the merit system. Those who pressed for its inclusion in the report maintained that because these persons had passed an examination before entering the service, it was not just that they should be asked to pass a second examination. There was also the possibility that their age might prevent them from sitting for an examination. Despite these extenuating circumstances I am still of the opinion that this recommendation is wrong in principle, but had it not been for the inclusion of section 8 I would not have spoken to oppose it.

Civil Service-Report of Committee

In my opinion section 8 is a most serious departure from the merit system. This recommendation provides that all positions for which the maximum salary is 8700 or less, except the positions of office boys, shall be exempt from the Civil Service Act and that appointments shall be made by the governor in council. This is a reversion to the patronage system with all its evils and I am absolutely opposed to it. I hold in my hand a certified copy of order in council P.C. 1053, dated June 29, 1922. By this order in council, the government, upon the recommendation of the civil service commission, exempted certain positions in the civil service from the operations of the Civil Service Act. The positions exempted were: first, those where the compensation did not exceed S200 per annum; second, those positions for which the compensation provided was fees of office and honorary positions to which no compensation was attached; third, the position of orderly in the office of the governor general's secretary and, fourth, the position of Indian interpreter in the Indian affairs branch. Then follows a long list of port physicians operating under the department of health in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and British Columbia. There is also a long list of positions filled by unskilled and skilled labour as well as of a domestic nature. These were all the exemptions recommended by the commission in 1922, but since that time a number of other positions have been exempted by statute. Certain positions are usually exempted by the supply bill. As I have said, section 8 of the report recommends the exemptions of all positions for which the salary rate is 8700 or less, but section 19 of the report reads:

That in order to remove all appointments from political influence, all advertisements for applicants shall contain a notice advising the applicant that he must not seek political assistance to further his application.

Section 8 is contrary to the intent of section 19. How could section 8 and section 19 be carried out at the same time? The committee is first recommending that all positions for which the salary rate is $700 or less shall be exempted from the Civil Service Act, and then it recommends that in order to remove all appointments from political influence, all advertisements for applicants shall contain a notice advising the applicant that he must not seek political assistance to further his application. The committee discussed whether the civil service commission was in a better position to appoint persons to positions of the kind mentioned than the member for the particular constituency. However,

that is not the only point to be considered. My opinion is-I believe this opinion is widely held-th'at the civil service commission is best equipped to make all appointments. It is possible that in any parliament nearly half the constituencies in Canada might be represented by members other than those on the government side. If this recommendation is accepted it will mean that appointments would be made, not by the sitting member but by the defeated candidate. My primary objection to making appointments in this way is that they are made without the general public being made aware that there is a vacancy to be filled. When appointments are made under the Civil Service Act the vacancy is advertised, and the whole community knows that a position is to be filled and can make application accordingly. I think the house should consider very carefully before it approves this recommendation.

In moving concurrence in the report this morning, the hon. member for Hull (Mr. Fournier) stated that it would take many more years to get a civil service based on merit alone. I think we all agree with that statement, but we shall never get a civil service based on merit unless we begin now to make appointments upon merit alone. The longer we delay doing that, the longer it will be until we have a service based on merit alone. I plead with members of the house to accept the amendment moved by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Glen) which deletes section 8 from the report. I think the balance of the report is fairly satisfactory and could be concurred in by the house.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Richard Langton Baker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BAKER (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, I did not anticipate speaking on this subject, but one point that comes to my mind should, I think, be discussed. I believe I have studied the report of this committee fairly closely, but I cannot find where attention has been drawn to the increase in the number of civil servants which has occurred in the last four years. According to the figures of the bureau of statistics, in the last four years the total number of civil servants has increased not by hundreds but by thousands. Is that not an important matter to consider? Should we not place responsibility for this heavy increase? If we continue to increase the number of civil servants at the rate at which their number has been increased in the last four years, we may reach the time when twenty-five per cent of the people of Canada will be in the government service and the other seventy-five per cent doing their best to pay the taxes to provide the salaries. This is particularly serious at a time when the people

Civil Service-Report of Committee

of Canada are concerned over the tremendous load of taxation which they now have to carry. Yet here we are piling on more taxation.

I am satisfied that many* of the additions made to the civil service are not necessary. Until 1930, when a man left the civil service, whether he resigned or was superannuated at sixty-five or seventy years of age, the civil service commission automatically got busy and appointed another man to the position whether he was needed or not. Often when a man reaches seventy he is not doing very much in the civil service, and there is no real need of replacing him. In business when an employee of seventy retires, he is often not replaced, but in the government service vacancies are automatically filled. For the period 1930 to 1935' however, the rule was made by the previous government that no replacements would be made unless the head of the department stated to the commission that the position required to be filled. The result of that rule was that the number of civil servants went down and down and down constantly from 1932 to 1935. But in 1936 the number increased again by hundreds and hundreds, and finally it amounted to additional thousands.

I do not know of any question that is more important for a civil service committee to consider, yet I do not find it dealt with in this report at all. It is a question of great importance to the taxpayers of Canada. As I say, if appointments continue at the present rate we may reach a point where twenty-five per cent of the people of Canada will be in the public service, and the other seventy-five per cent will be trying to earn enough money to pay the salaries of the twenty-five per cent. An impossible situation will be reached if this practice is not stopped, and I wish to put myself on record that in my opinion this committee in not taking up this matter was guilty of overlooking a question of very great importance to the taxpayers of this country.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. FERNAND RINFRET (Secretary of State):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak to

this motion I wish first to congratulate the mover (Mr. Fournier), who was also the chairman of the committee, and the members of the committee upon the very good work which they have done. The work which was accomplished by the committee of last year and by the committee which sat during the course of this session has afforded not only to members of the house but to the public at large an opportunity to become acquainted with some of the problems connected with the civil service. I believe that an occasional

committee inquiring into the operation of the Civil Service Act, I would say once in the lifetime of a parliament, can accomplish very good work by reviewing the situation generally and considering the numerous amendments that are suggested from all quarters and from both sides of the house-those who stand for a 100 per cent merit system and those who stand for a somewhat mixed system, according to the character and quality of the positions to be filled.

I notice that this year the report is pretty extensive but that it can be divided into two parts, one part recommending amendments to be enacted as legislation, and the other part containing recommendations to the commission proper. Earlier in the session when this committee was formed I pointed out that the civil service commission of its own volition and on the suggestions of the committee of last year had already taken action in a number of cases. I understand that the committee this year have merged _ in their present report some of the questions that had remained pending, and have dealt with them in the present report.

I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that this motion has been made if only to allow a certain number of members, both those on the committee and members who were not on the committee, to offer their opinions, and the debate we have had to-day has been most illuminating. At the same time I notice that while the recommendations which have been made to the commission proper, and which can be accomplished either by regulation or by order in council, seem to have met with unanimous approval in the house, the recommendations as to legislation seem to be more contentious.

Taking the recommendations in the order in which they appear, personally I share the view expressed by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart), the acting leader of the opposition, as to the first recommendation. There is no doubt that there must eventually-I would repeat, perhaps once in the lifetime of a parliaments-be a committee specially

appointed to deal with certain aspects of the Civil Service Act. But I doubt whether it would be wise to have a standing committee, standing there session after session not only to consider possible amendments to the act but to become a sort of clearing house for grievances from all sides. That has objections which are quite obvious, and therefore personally, speaking not so much as a member of the government but from my own experience, I would suggest that the house should

Questions

hesitate before agreeing to establish a standing committee of that kind. Perhaps it would be wise in these last hours of the session not to deal with that matter at all but to leave it to be considered more exhaustively at another session of parliament.

I have no doubt either that the recommendations made in regard to the appointment of war veterans will prove contentious. They always have been, and although in every committee which has dealt with civil service matters the question has been brought up, in many instances it has never reached the final stage. So here again I think it would require considerable discussion before we could get-even a majority of the house to agree on some solution.

The recommendation contained in paragraph 8 has been made the subject of an amendment. Some hon. members have spoken in favour of the change recommended by the committee, while other hon. members on the committee and others have expressed themselves as not in favour of this change. There again, although the salaries attached to the positions dealt with in paragraph 8 may be small, you have contention on rather an important point, as to the principle that should govern in these appointments, whether they should be made by the commission or by the government.

There is another matter which I wish to point out with respect to the recommendations of the committee for legislation which are contained in paragraphs 7 and 9. Paragraph 7 recommends an age limit of sixty-five years for retirement, with a qualification which alleviates considerably the weight of the recommendation and which is expressed in these words, "except when deemed against the public interest by the governor in council." I notice that in the report of the superannuation committee a similar recommendation is made, without the same qualification. I doubt very much if it would be wise to amend the Civil Service Act in this respect without having a corresponding amendment made to the superannuation act. The same remark applies to the recommendation made in paragraph 9, that long-term temporaries on the staff of all government departments should be made permanent employees under the civil service commission. There again that brings up a question affecting not only the civil service proper but superannuation as well, and I do not think the house would want to consider a bill amending the Civil Service Act in this respect without having a corresponding section in the superannuation act.

The government will very shortly make a declaration as to its final intention concerning the bringing down of legislation covering civil service and superannuation. In the meantime I think this discussion has served its purpose in that it has allowed a number of members, especially those who served so faithfully on the committee, to express their opinions on these different matters. I do not think that we can get much further by prolonging the discussion. For that reason I would move the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   CIVIL SERVICE ACT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND AND FINAL REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink

Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned. QUESTIONS (Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk)


TRANS-CANADA AIR LINES-MALTON AIRPORT

LIB

Mr. MULOCK:

Liberal

1. Is the Department of Transport carrying on any construction w'ork at Malton, Ontario, under the auspices of Trans-Canada Airways?

2. If so, are all persons employed on this work British subjects?

3. Are all the persons employed by Trans-Canada Airways at this airport British subjects?

4. Is the city of Toronto carrying on any construction work at that airport?

Topic:   TRANS-CANADA AIR LINES-MALTON AIRPORT
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LIB

Mr. HOWE: (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

1. No construction work is being carried on at Malton, at present, under the auspices of the Trans-Canada Airways, the hangar building and facilities having been completed last February.

2. Answered by No. 1.

3. Yes.

4. Yes.

Topic:   TRANS-CANADA AIR LINES-MALTON AIRPORT
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OTTAWA-STREET IMPROVEMENT IN VICINITY OP NATIONAL MEMORIAL

CON

Mr. HYNDMAN:

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. Has the government called for tenders in connection with paving Wellington street from Mackenzie avenue to Elgin street in the city of Ottawa, and for the construction of new sidewalks in this area?

2. If so, what are the names of those who tendered, and the unit prices quoted in each tender?

3. Who were the successful tenderers, and what unit prices are to be paid them on this work?

Topic:   OTTAWA-STREET IMPROVEMENT IN VICINITY OP NATIONAL MEMORIAL
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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

This work is included in the specification and contract of A. W. Robertson Limited of Toronto for roadways, sidewalks, promenades, terraces, etc., surrounding the national memorial.

4S00

Questions

Topic:   OTTAWA-STREET IMPROVEMENT IN VICINITY OP NATIONAL MEMORIAL
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WESTERN PROVINCES-REFINANCING OF MATURING OBLIGATIONS

CON

Mr. CLARKE (Rosedale):

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. What assistance has been given by the dominion government during the last two years to (a) Manitoba, (b) Saskatchewan, (c) Alberta, in the refinancing of maturing obligations ?

2. Has the dominion government given any guarantees on behalf of these governments to insurance companies or other financial institutions in respect of such obligations?

Topic:   WESTERN PROVINCES-REFINANCING OF MATURING OBLIGATIONS
Permalink
LIB

Mr. DUNNING: (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

1. None.

2. No.

Topic:   WESTERN PROVINCES-REFINANCING OF MATURING OBLIGATIONS
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STE. PERPETUE, QUE., RURAL MAIL SERVICE

CON

Mr. CLARKE (Rosedale):

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. Who has the present contract for the delivery of rural mail at Ste. Perpetue, constituency of Nicolet, province of Quebec?

2. How long has he held sucb contract?

3. Has he been notified of the termination of such contract?

4. If so, on what dates, and for what reasons?

5. Will tenders be called for the letting of this contract?

6. If so, will they be by public advertisement?

Topic:   STE. PERPETUE, QUE., RURAL MAIL SERVICE
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LIB

Mr. McLARTY: (Postmaster General)

Liberal

1. Paul Doucet.

2. Since 1st July, 1935.

3 and 4. No .notification necessary, his contract automatically expires on 30th June, 1939.

5 and 6. No. The amount involved being less than $200.00 per annum, the invitation of public tenders is not obligatory under the terms of section 73 of the Post Office Act.

Topic:   STE. PERPETUE, QUE., RURAL MAIL SERVICE
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May 31, 1939