If we can make money it saves that much taxation, or new taxes being imposed. Therefore I am afraid I
cannot give my hon. friend much encouragement at the present time about Saturday afternoon delivery.
With regard to the number of employees and the work in Toronto, the hon. member said he thought there might be some additional staff. I would advise him that since May 1, 1940, there have been seventy-seven new positions in the post office at Toronto; and if the volume continues to increase, as it gives every indication of doing, it will be necessary to make still further staff increases there.
I shall take into consideration with the officials of the department what the hon. member said about our capable district director at Toronto, Mr. Gibson. He is recognized as one of the outstanding post office officials in this country. As the hon. member said, Mr. Gibson is doing an excellent job in the position he now occupies.
The matter of salaries of employees is one on which I suggest the hon. member make representations to the civil service commission, because they deal with it and not this department.
I should like to thank the Postmaster General for the promptness with which he and his staff answer correspondence. I hope he will have time, patience and wisdom to work out a better way for our rural mail carriers than there is at the present time.
The Postmaster General has just mentioned that, generally speaking, the employees of the post office come to him through the civil service commission. There is a matter which has been raised by correspondence more than once regarding post office employees. I know there are post offices and postmasters of different grades, operating under different circumstances. I am not clear, however, as to who employs the assistants in those smaller post offices. Is it the postmaster, or are those appointments made through the civil service commission?
In post offices with annual revenues under $3,000, the postmaster appoints his assistant, if any, himself. The same I think is true of all post offices other than the regular staff post offices. In all the revenue post offices the postmaster engages his own staff.
the hon. member for Davenport compliment the minister upon his impartiality in the administration of the department. I am encouraged because I have had some correspondence with the minister, and what the hon. member has said makes me hopeful.
I have had some correspondence within the last month or so from the mail carriers' association with regard to a war bonus to enable them to meet the increased cost of living. Industrialists and others have been giving their employees consideration along these lines. I understand that the wages of these mail carriers have remained fixed, and that they have been seeking a bonus to compensate for the increased cost of living. Has the minister anything in mind with respect to the matter?
I mean the letter carriers, who are represented by the mail carriers' association.
I have had some correspondence also with the department concerning two towns which are asking for new post offices. They are small towns, and the buildings in which the postal work is carried on are very small. I have particular reference to the town of Dominion, where the building housing the post office is a disgrace. The cost of replacement would not be very great, because a building sufficient to carry on the work at that point would not have to be large. Does the minister intend to do anything in that regard?
In some of the rural communities, where perhaps only sixteen or eighteen families are served by a post office, the offices have been closed for reasons of economy. In one case fifteen families have thus been left without postal service, and it is necessary for them to walk or drive a considerable distance in order to pick up their mail at another post office. While only fifteen families are affected, the matter is just as serious to them as a discontinuance of mail service would be to the city of Toronto. It is exactly the same thing in point of inconvenience to the individual family. One of the fundamental principles
of the Post Office Department is service to the people, and I do not think it would cost
so very much to maintain the service in these areas.
The hon. member mentioned that he would like a new postal building at the town of Dominion. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Post Office Department does not build post offices; they come under the Department of Public Works. I suggest that the hon. member draw this matter to the attention of the minister in charge of that department.
With regard to the discontinuance of certain rural routes, to which I understand the hon. member had reference, it is quite true that where there was a very small volume of business and very little revenue, in the interests of economy some of these routes have been curtailed and others discontinued.
This, however, has not been done on any wholesale basis, and if there is a case of real hardship; if people are suffering because of the lack of proper mail facilities, I can assure the hon. member that the officials of the department will be glad to go into the matter and give it their best consideration. If, after the hon. member has discussed it with them, the officials believe it to be a matter that requires correction, certainly that action will be taken.
Unliquidated encumbrances outstanding, amounting to $11,234.32, were transferred from 1939-40 to 1940-41, and therefore became a charge against the latter appropriation. Further, the drastically reduced appropriation for 1940-41 rendered it impossible to purchase new bags to replace the worn out equipment, the entire vote being utilized solely for repairs. New bags must be purchased to meet the needs of the service during 1941-42, and this amount is required to provide for them and for the increased cost of cotton duck, which amounts to fourteen per cent at the present time. The hon. member will appreciate the fact that there is a great deal of mail, soldier as well as civilian, going to the old country, and in many cases there are considerable delays in having the
bags returned. A certain number of them are not returned, and of course some are lost through enemy action.
This is a matter which applies to all classes of civil servants, and therefore a matter of government policy. It is not a question for one department to deal with, so that I could not make any statement at the present time.