December 17, 1945


Item agreed to. 2ST Railway mail -service, $14,651,279.


CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

I

should like to bring to the attention of the minister the case respecting railway mail clerks with which I have no doubt he is already

familiar. These- men are the highest glass- of manipulative workers in the post office department, and- they consider they are being discriminated against. I should like to place their case before the minister.

On July 1 of last year post office workers who were receiving sub-standard- wages quite properly got an increase ranging from $120 to $180 a year, while railway mail clerks go-t only S60, thus reducing the differential between ordinary post office workers and railway mail clerks.

I am also informed- that railway mail clerks got mileage in their salaries, for -the purpose of superannuation; but this did- not represent any actual increase. I know that representations were made a year ago to the minister asking that the differential be reestablished. The answer always given is that this is in the hands of the civil service commission, and that until the commission reports nothing can be d-one about it. -Could -the minister give me a statement on the matter?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST BERTRAND (Postmaster General):

Of course, I have no more jurisdiction over these salaries than -had my predecessor. The civil service commission regulates these things. However, I may tell my hon. friend- that representations will be made very shortly on this point and-, as soon as this session is over, I intend- taking -this matter up with my officials to see what we can do. The hon. member may know that we also have to d-o something about the war bonus.

I am not ready this evening to state exactly what we shall do. However, we want to be reasonable, and we are going to consider the matter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Alistair McLeod Stewart

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

Mr. STEWART (Winnipeg North):

I am glad to hear that the minister will do everything possible to reestablish the differential.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

The little city of Swift Current from which I come has been anxious for a long time to have a postal delivery service. Is the minister giving this matter serious consideration? If this were looked into, it would be greatly appreciated. Certainly all cities of that size have this service. It is difficult for many people to get down to the post office, and- I should like to have a definite answer from the minister.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

We are

inclined to give mail delivery to all cities in which the revenue is $40,000 or more. We should like to give it wherever there are a sufficient number of citizens to justify our doing so. However, we have to follow certain rides. We ask that there be a net revenue of $40,000, and that there be at least 2,000 points of call in order to employ our men.

Supply-Reconstruction

If Swift Current comes within these stipulations, I am sure we shall be happy to give the service. However, the streets have to be well marked and the houses numbered. I do not know whether Swift Current has those things.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

Oh, yes, we are quite civilized.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

Or if there are long streets without many points of call, it would not be possible.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

That is not the situation, at all.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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Item agreed to. 235. Air and land mail services, $19,862,725.


IND

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Independent C.C.F.

Mr. HERRIDGE:

In my constituency there has been quite a controversy in recent weeks owing to the awarding of a rural mail contract to a non-veteran, at a price $200 below that offered by veteran tenderers. This subject is fraught with difficulty. Would the minister give consideration to making it possible to give greater preference to veterans in connection with rural mail delivery?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier) :

This is a ques-question which at times is embarrassing, but which we should like to settle in accordance with the wishes of the hon. member. However, we must decide whether we can grant contracts to returned men, in preference to civilians, where tenders are asked. If we did that, it would completely destroy the principle behind the tender. If we ask for tenders we have to be fair with the people who submit tenders, and of course we must give the contract to the lowest bidder, provided that he has the necessary equipment to fulfil his contract. If we were to make an exception and give a contract to a returned man, whether he was a lower bidder or not, in our opinion it would destroy the principle behind the tender, and might become a source of collusion.

Very often in towns or villages where we have rural mail delivery there might not be even one returned man who would be ready to take a contract. Some other people, knowing that a returned man would have a 100 per cent preference, might ask him to tender on their behalf. We think the Post Office Department in these circumstances might lose many millions of dollars throughout Canada. We have to abide by the Post Office Act, which is the law in force to-day, and which obliges us to give contracts to the lowest tenderers.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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IND

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Independent C.C.F.

Mr. HERRIDGE:

Has the minister given consideration to the proposals of the dominion command of the Canadian Legion, in which they suggest that the whole question be

reviewed, and that the delivery of rural mail be put on a mileage basis?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

That would not be possible. It would have to be a base which could be applied to all Canada. The transportation of mail on the plains in western Canada, and the transportation of mails over the mountains in British Columbia, on difficult roads, would not be comparable, and the same base could not be applied. It has to be a tender for every one of these rural mail deliveries, because conditions are not the same.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLURE:

The minister has told us how these contracts are made and so on, and I should like to say a few words about rural mail delivery. This is a most difficult job, especially in wintertime, and unfortunately it is the most underpaid service of any of the services of the dominion government. It is quite true that during the last four years the government has paid an extra bonus to rural mail carriers, but that is not on an honest-to-goodness basis. Is there any possibility of bringing these men under the civil service, so that they may be paid for their services?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Bertrand (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

It is done by tender, and that is the best way we can do it. The minister may award contracts up to $200. The section of the act is the same as it was in 1867. Sometimes people tender for contracts which will take only part of their time, and in an effort to make a few hundred dollars they calculate at too low a rate. At different times we have had to take over these contracts and ask for new tenders. It was my intention this year to ask to have this limit raised from $200 to $400 to protect these people against themselves, but we cannot do it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink

Item agreed to.


DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION


308. Departmental administration, including expenses incidental to organization, $1,500,000.


CCF

George Hugh Castleden

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

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

There are a number of things in connection with the Department of Reconstruction which require clarification. War Assets Corporation is under this department, and the people of Canada have been inquiring about what is being done with the billions of dollars worth of war assets which now stand to the credit of the Canadian people. The people of Canada gave freely throughout the period of the war in an effort to bring the war to a successful conclusion. There was scarcely a question raised during the whole period of the war about the granting of money. We were in the full flush of

Supply-Reconstruction

production when the war ended, and there were many war assets in Europe, in the United Kingdom and in other parts of the world.

All these are being disposed of through War Assets Corporation, and the Canadian people would like to know what is happening to them. I am of the opinion that the Minister of Finance is anxious that the treasury should be reimbursed as soon as possible for what value is there. The Canadian people consider that these assets belong to them, and they view with considerable alarm one or two aspects in connection with their disposal. In the first place, soldiers coming out of the army find it difficult 'to get the trucks they were driving around during the war. Jeeps and things . like that do not seem to be available at all.

Many questions were placed on the' order paper with regard to what was happening. They stayed there for weeks, and finally the Minister of Reconstruction asked that they be withdrawn on the promise that they would be answered fully in the committee. We accepted that in good faith and they were [DOT]withdrawn. The committee held about ten meetings of about an hour and a quarter each. That committee undertook to study the set-up and organization of War Assets Corporation. The steering committee agreed on that, which was all to the good. However, it seemed that War Assets Corporation was in a constant state of flux. Policies which were placed on the paper with regard to their organization seemed to show one thing, while actual operations seemed to show another.

Farmers inquire whether it would be possible for them to get hold of tractors or ;rucks. Provincial governments would like to get hold of road-making machinery and aeroplanes, but they are having considerable difficulty. Hospitals wish to know if it would be possible for them to get hold of hospital supplies. People need things such as blankets and clothing, and there are tools which the government could use. There are thousands of schools in the different provinces which could use radio material, generators and other things in their construction and science classes. These things would be of very little loss to the government if they were turned over to these schools.

We were quite anxious that this committee which was carrying on an investigation of this work should continue. As I say, the committee had only ten meetings. A report was tabled in the house, which report stated that the committee would be reorganized at the

[Mr. Castleden.J

next sitting of parliament to carry on its work. Between now and the time at which the committee could be set up will be at least three months. War Assets Corporation is receiving into its funds $10,000,000 a month. The report which stated that the committee would not sit until the next session was a majority report, but there was opposition.

We have more to say on this matter than can possibly be said to-night, and since it is close to eleven o'clock I think the committee should rise.

Item stands.

Progress reported.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION
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December 17, 1945