March 12, 1957

PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

Yes.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

George Carlyle Marler (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Marler:

Would he mind illustrating those restrictions that he has just mentioned?

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

I do not think that is too difficult to do, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Gordon has come before us and he has indicated a need for an extension of the line. He has said that the capital amount required to build this line is X number of dollars. With present conditions he is quite convinced that he can carry on here, that he can build the line, can use this amount of money and can count on it that the present revenue will do the job. Yet within a few months from that time he may be faced with the necessity of meeting demands for increased wages and considerably increased costs of upkeep. What is he obliged to do? Immediately he faces a long term of requests to the board of transport commissioners to be allowed some freedom, to be allowed some increase in order to carry out a continuation of the operation. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, he reaches a stage where he is far behind and only gets caught up many months and sometimes years after, as a result of this type of very rigid control. It seems to me that the sooner we place the operations of the national railway

Committee on Railways and Shipping and those of all railways on the same basis as the operations of ordinary businesses, or as closely as possible to it, the better the chance we have of having efficiently and profitably run systems.

As a matter of fact, there are other people who are concerned and with very good reason. I think the employees feel that they are caught in a particular wedge. They see other wages rising and yet they know that when they deal with the management of their companies that management has already had a lid placed on it with regard to its ability to bargain in the usual course. I think you will find no body of workers as loyal to their institution as are the railway workers. I think that fact should be kept in mind in connection with their position. As a matter of fact, I always feel that there is one occasion here when I can say something about the ones closest to me at the moment, namely the employees of the railway at the Chateau Laurier here. They certainly make it one of the finest hotels in the country or in the world. I think they make it the best home away from home that we could find anywhere.

I am not going to say anything more at this time, Mr. Speaker. I feel that there will be opportunities afforded before this committee. I am hoping that the latitude which is set out here with regard to the calling of witnesses will have some practical results when the time to call them arises.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, we in this group welcome this annual motion to set up a committee on railways and shipping owned, operated and controlled by the government. We feel that the government-owned operations referred to in this motion have a good story to tell. We think it is desirable that they should have the opportunity to appear before a committee of this house and tell that story. We also are of the opinion that since these operations are owned by the people of Canada, it is right and proper that the people's representatives in parliament should have an opportunity to examine the accounts and the affairs of the Canadian National Railways, the Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships and Trans-Canada Air Lines.

As the Minister of Transport would expect, I propose to devote the greater part of my few remarks on this motion to one particular subject which is still of great concern to some of us. Before I reach that subject, may I say a word on one or two other items by way of preliminary comment.

First of all, may I say with reference to the question of air transportation, which has been discussed to some extent by the hon. member for York West, that it is still our

2118 HOUSE OF

Committee on Railways and Shipping feeling, as it has been ever since the government laid down its policy in the field of civil aviation and as it was even before that policy was laid down, that this is a field, in Canada especially, that is particularly suited to public ownership. We are giving the government our continuing support in so far as it maintains the principle of public ownership in this field. If we have any criticism to offer it is that the government, at times, seems to relax its own declared policy. I refer to the policy announced in this house by the Minister of Trade and Commerce back in 1944 with regard to what was then referred to as post-war civil aviation.

It seems to me that last year the Minister of Transport answered the arguments that were put forward by my hon. friend the member for York West and others in that party very effectively when they called for a greater scope for private operators in the field of air transportation. As a matter of fact, I think his answers were so effective, and his figures were so convincing, that the hon. member for York West was not able to present his case today with the vigour he did a year ago. However, I would simply wish to say to the minister that we still support the position the government takes that this is a field where public ownership is appropriate. We congratulate Trans-Canada Air Lines on the job that it has done in this field, and we hope that its position will be kept strong by the supporters of the government.

There are two or three matters members of this group will want to raise and discuss in the committee. We do not need, therefore, to discuss them at length at this time. One of these matters will be the question which was raised on orders of the day this afternoon by the hon. member for York-Scar-borough (Mr. Enfield) who referred to protests that have been received from Canadian National employees in various parts of the country that there seems to be discrimination against organized workers compared with unorganized workers in the matter of the health and welfare plan.

My colleague the hon. member for Sask-toon has a good deal of material in connection with this matter. He is a member of the committee and I know he has communicated with the Minister of Labour about it, as I have. I am not sure whether or not my colleague has communicated with the Minister of Transport. But at any rate, as I have indicated, my colleague the hon. member for Saskatoon will raise this matter in the committee when it meets.

Another matter which we will want to have discussed once again in the special committee is the practice of the Canadian National

Railways of contracting out some of its work, thus by-passing collective agreements. I refer now to another of my colleagues, the hon. member for Cape Breton South, who has already questioned both the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Labour during this session with respect to this matter. He will see to it that the matter is discussed in the special committee.

I believe it was a year ago that I was able to stand in my place during the debate on this motion and welcome the fact that one example of this practice apparently has been brought to an end. This was in reference to the Canadian National Railways contracting out to the R. F. Welch Company Limited. I was able to report that the brotherhood of maintenance-of-way employees had reached a satisfactory understanding with Canadian National Railways regarding this matter. However, since that time other examples of contracting out have been brought to our attention, some of which I spoke on last summer. In all cases, the result seems to be a by-passing of collective agreements. I can say to the Minister of Transport that organized labour feels very strongly about this matter. Indeed, representations on the point were made to the cabinet by the Canadian Labour Congress in its brief presented in January of this year. The government was asked to give study, not only to the practice of the Canadian National Railways but to the possibility of amending the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act, to prevent this practice. However, as I have already indicated, Mr. Speaker, my colleague the hon. member for Cape Breton South, who has raised this matter in the house, will be a member of this special committee and I am sure he will see to it that the subject is raised in the sessions of the committee.

The matter I wish to raise again with the minister is the tragic plight of great numbers of former employees of Canadian National Railways who are still left on terribly inadequate pensions. It is sad indeed the number of times that we have to raise this question, and the way in which those who have served their day and generation are ignored when they get old. We had a debate in a similar vein a couple of weeks ago on a motion by the hon. member for Fort William with respect to the retired employees of the federal government.

This is an issue that comes up in other contexts as well, but I rise on this motion, Mr. Speaker, to protest that, after all these years, there is still in effect for a great many of the employees of this great company, the Canadian National Railways of

which we are so proud, a pension of only $25 a month. We have asked repeatedly for consideration of the requests of the retired employees and others that this basic pension be increased. As a matter of fact, just to bring the matter up to date, on January 15 of this year I asked the Minister of Transport this question as recorded at page 228 of Hansard for that day:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Minister ot Transport. Has the minister received, since the end of the regular session of last year, representations on behalf of the retired employees of the Canadian National Railways, whose pensions are limited to the $25 a month, for an increase in the amount of the pension? Has further consideration been given to this matter or will such further consideration be given by the minister or by the government?

The reply of the minister was as follows: Mr. Speaker, X am afraid that, offhand, I am unable to say whether or not written representations have been received. I shall have to look into my files and see whether any have come to hand.

Later, the minister made a reply to my question, which is found on page 505 of Hansard for January 22, 1957, and reads as follows:

Mr. Speaker, last week the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) asked if since the end of the regular session of last year I had received representations on behalf of the retired employees of the Canadian National Railways in receipt of pensions of $25 per month for an increase in the amount of the pension The answer to that question is that I have received no such representations. The hon. member also asked if further consideration had been given to this matter or if it will be given by the minister or the government. Representations were made recently to the management of the Canadian National Railways that any smaller pension now payable by it should be increased to $60 per month, but no action has been taken and the matter has not been considered by the Minister of Transport or the government itself.

It is that refusal to consider that request against which I protest at this time, as once again I call on the government to consider the plight of these retired employees, to take the necessary action to have these smaller pensions brought up to a figure more commensurate with today's cost of living and more commensurate with the tremendously increased wealth now being produced in this country.

As the minister knows, from time to time he has the task of preparing answers to certain questions that I place on the order paper and I thank him for the answers he has given. The most recent answers about this matter are found on page 2003 of Hansard for March 7, 1957. I find on examining the figures given on that page that there are still seven employees of the Canadian National Railways drawing pensions of under $25 a month; there are still 3,068 former employees of the Canadian National Railways drawing pensions of

12, 1957 2119

Committee on Railways and Shipping $25 a month. In addition, there are 3,624 whose pensions are more than $25 a month but less than $40 a month. Those three figures that I have just given add up to a total of 6,699. That is the number of former employees of the Canadian National Railways whose pensions are less than $40 a month.

To complete the picture I might point out that there are 14,305 former employees who draw pensions of $40 a month or over, making a grand total of 21,004 pensioners of the Canadian National Railways.

I should like to point out that the 6,699 who are drawing pensions of less than $40 a month constitute 31.8 per cent of the total number of Canadian National pensioners. Mr. Speaker, I point out that percentage for a reason which I would now like to make clear. I do so by giving the figures in answer to the same questions that were placed on Hansard four years ago. I am taking these figures from tables to be found on page 2953 of Hansard for March 16, 1953. At that time the number of former employees drawing pensions of under $25 a month was 17. This year it is down to seven. Everyone knows the reason for the decline. Ten have died off.

In 1953 the number drawing $25 a month was 3,206. That figure has declined this year to 3,068 and I imagine the answer is the same. The decline represents the number of pensioners drawing $25 a month whose days have come to an end. The number who were drawing more than $25 a month but less than $40 a month in 1953 was 3,953. That has now declined by 329 to 3,624. In other words, the grand total in 1953 who were drawing less than $40 a month was 7,176. That figure, as I have already indicated, is now 6,699, or a decline of 477. Let me repeat that. I say with some satisfaction, some pleasure, that the number who today are on pensions of less than $40 a month has declined by 477, from 7,176 to 6,699. At the same time-and I say this with commendation-the number of Canadian National pensioners drawing pensions of $40 a month or more has gone up because it was 10,348 in 1953 and it is 14,305 today. In other words, there has been an increase of 3,907. The grand total of pensioners in 1953 was 17,524, so that the number of those who were drawing less than $40 a month was then 40.9 per cent of the total.

I am happy to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the number of former employees pensioned by the Canadian National Railways has grown in the last four years. I am happy to point out that the number on the larger pensions has increased; at the same time the number on the terribly small pensions has decreased. The latter is undoubtedly due to the fact that the older men are dying off. But the plea

2120 HOUSE OF

Committee on Railways and Shipping I make to the minister in the light of these statistics is that the problem is not one that is growing; it is gradually contracting, but I hope he just will not sit back and wait until the whole 6,699 of those on pensions of less than $40 a month die off. I use that language advisedly, for it does seem to me that there is a terrible tendency on the part of some employers-and I include the federal government and the Canadian National Railways- to make big fellows of themselves with their employees, to make big fellows of themselves with people who are retiring by giving buttons and ribbons and that kind of thing, but once they are on the shelf, once they are retired and pensioned and drawing whatever their contract called for, the government and the Canadian National Railways as employers seem to feel that nothing more needs to be done no matter what social or economic changes take place.

The Minister of Transport can stand up in his place in the house and answer me or answer other members by saying, "No action has been taken and the matter has not been considered by the Minister of Transport or the government itself", as he did on January 22, but that does not deal with the matter.

I am going to take a moment of my time, Mr. Speaker, if I may, just to read the figures that I used a moment ago so that they might appear on Hansard in tabular form and be more useful to those who are interested in this subject. I am not asking that the table be put on the record by consent; I will read it. It reads as follows:

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PENSIONS


1953 1957 Total number of pensioners receiving less than $25 a month 17 7Total number receiving $25 a month .. 3,206 3,068 Total number receiving more than $25 a month but less than $40 a month .. 3,953 3,624 Total number receiving less than $40 a month 7,176 6,699 Total number receiving $40 a month and over 10,348 14,305 Grand total 17,524 21,004 Percentage of those receiving less than $40 a month to grand total 40.9% 31.8% Source: Hansard, March 16, 1953, page 2953; March7, 1953, page 2003. I repeat, it seems to me that the Canadian National Railways as an employer has the same kind of responsibility for these people that we feel the government as an employer has to its retired civil servants. We protest most strongly the refusal that is given year after year. We protest against the way the railway passes the buck to the government and the way the government passes the buck to management. Rumours are abroad that



the government is beginning to realize that something has to be done for pensioners generally and something may be done. We may even get word about it a couple of nights from now for all we know. I hope the Minister of Transport will realize that as the minister who speaks for the Canadian National Railways in this house he has a responsibility to see to it that something is done for this group of faithful employees. I have said already that the various matters which this group feels should be discussed in the committee will be discussed by my colleagues who will represent us on that committee, the hon. member for Cape Breton South and the hon. member for Saskatoon, but I repeat that we feel that this problem of the plight of retired C.N.R. employees receiving low pensions should be dealt with and adjustments made so that the minimum pension as suggested in the answer of the Minister of Transport will certainly be not less than $60 per month for these faithful retired employees of this government-owned company of which we are so proud.


SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. F. G. J. Hahn (New Westminster):

Mr. Speaker, we in this group welcome this resolution introduced by the minister. For the past three years it has been my privilege to sit on this committee and I must say we have always received a courteous hearing and have had considerable information given to us. At the same time I must say that it has not always been to our liking, but when I say that I am thinking more specifically of the question which the hon. member for York-Humber (Miss Aitken) raised in regard to that part of the resolution concerning the sending for persons, papers and records. I should like the minister to define that phrase so that when we get to the committee we will be in a better position to determine whether we are entitled to ask certain individuals to come before the committee.

Another question that has been raised is the possibility of doing away with the monopoly enjoyed by Trans-Canada Air Lines. It has been my privilege to raise this question from time to time in the house and therefore I shall not deal with it extensively at this time. This matter can be dealt with much better in the committee and we may be able to discover whether the government intends to change its policy in this regard. My understanding is that in 1956 the air freight increased by 25 per cent whereas the number of passengers carried increased by some 33 per cent.

I submit that we have now reached the point where we should be ready to welcome competition for Trans-Canada Air Lines. There is a time when public ownership does

play a part in the development of this country, but it does seem to me that when we have reached the point where our ground and air personnel are being used to the maximum we should welcome some form of competition in order to keep the government operation on its toes. I think it is unfortunate we have not had some form of competition for Trans-Canada Air Lines, but I am sure that is something that could be rectified in the near future.

During the course of the year a terrible air accident occurred in British Columbia when a North Star crashed, just where is not known as yet. During his reply possibly the minister could deal with this matter about which there has been so much discussion on the Pacific coast. Methods have been suggested of preventing these accidents or at least helping to locate a plane once it is down. One suggestion is that the colour of our aircraft should be changed from. aluminum to bright yellow, orange or some such colour which would make it possible to locate an aircraft more easily in the snow or on the mountainous terrain of British Columbia. Another suggestion is that flares should be released automatically no matter how certain the pilot is that nothing is wrong with the plane and he can get back safely. When he is in mountainous areas there should be some form of automatic flare so that there would be some indication where a crash has occurred.

According to the information we have gleaned to the present time there would appear to be nothing that could have been done that would have prevented this tragic accident. I do not know whether the minister will be able to add anything to what has been said, but possibly he will comment on this later.

I was interested in the observations of the hon. member for Winnipeg' North Centre (Mr. Knowles) with regard to the plight of the pensioners. This is a serious problem and it is most unfortunate that there should be 7,000 individuals pensioned by our national railroad who are receiving $40 or less in the form of a pension.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PENSIONS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

Less than $40; $39.99 down.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PENSIONS
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SC

Frederick George Hahn

Social Credit

Mr. Hahn:

That is a most unfortunate condition, a condition which might be described as shameful. There are also seven who receive less than $25, which indicates an even worse condition. There may be a reason for this, but what we must remember is that we are not dealing with machines, we are dealing with people who have to live. The only way they can live is to have the purchasing power necessary to buy the food, 82715-134

12, 1957 2121

Committee on Railways and Shipping clothing and shelter which they need. We are denying them that right. They have no other means of obtaining assistance.

While I am sure the minister is satisfied in his own mind that there is some need for assistance, there is no other group except the government of this country which can provide that assistance. These people have rendered a valuable service to our country as employees of the Canadian National Railways and they should be looked after much better than the way in which we have seen fit to do it up to this time.

Then, in respect to the actual lines-the C.N.R. railway lines-the cost of operating our railway lines is most important. Mr. Donald Gordon, in his submission each year, has indicated how he tries to cut expenses. I was rather taken up by an article which appeared in the British Columbian of November 19, entitled "Supermarket Railroads". The article mentioned what Mr. Gordon had to say with respect to supermarket railroads, and one of the statements rather interested me. Mr. Gordon said, and these are the words attributed to him:

A passenger service must be made to stand on its own feet and competition is bringing to an end the day when losses on passenger traffic can be recouped through the freight rate structure.

In other words, people who live great distances from the heart of Canada must pay this high freight rate in order to help recoup the losses that are sustained at present on our passenger service. That, Mr. Speaker, is a position that must be rectified. It is not right to expect that any one form of transportation should, necessarily, subsidize another. The fact is that the efficient carriage of freight cargo as such is important in order to keep our economy at a high level, and if we are going to keep the price of our freight transport at a level higher than it would normally be because we are trying to capture a passenger market, then I believe that operation would be better turned over to another organization; I can only say that we are denying ourselves a proper price for the goods we have to sell. This stands to reason, and if I may use an example I would refer to the cost of butter about which a question was asked earlier today. It is my view that every possible means should be used to reduce the freight burden rather than help to subsidize the transportation of passengers who could find some other means of transport and, possibly, some cheaper means. By imposing extra charges on freight we are merely increasing the cost of particular commodities to people who cannot stand any increases on them. This is one of the things that need changing, and I am pleased that Donald Gordon has already

Committee on Railways and Shipping suggested he feels the day is soon coming when a change will be made.

In my travels across the country from time to time, one thing that has caused me some concern is the sleeping car accommodation in the passenger service. This is a problem that I feel could probably be dealt with very well in committee. I think many hon. members have probably had the same experience as I have, which is to the effect that you inquire about sleeping car accommodation from, let us say, Vancouver or New Westminster to Ottawa; you are told that there is none available; you can arrive only a few minutes before the train is prepared to leave, and you are still told the same story: there is none available. However, you get aboard the train and, generally speaking, you find not only one but several roomettes, or a bedroom, or upper and lower berths, that are available. This has not happened on one occasion only; it has happened at different times.

It may be that in the general operation a certain amount of sleeping space is allocated to each divisional point, but certainly some notice should be given that passengers who expect to use the facilities should be expected to indicate sufficiently in advance that they do intend to use them so that others, who do use them normally, should not be denied the privilege of riding in the comfort that should be available. I am satisfied, too, that when such is the case these same people find other means of transportation, because they do not like the prospect of sitting up all night on a train.

The question of dinette and dining cars has often been discussed in the committee and undoubtedly it will again come under scrutiny. I have discovered that our own service on the C.N.R. is superior, I think, to what we have on the C.P.R. In the dinette service, certainly, it is every bit as convenient, and serves a delightful purpose as well as doing away with some of those very costly meals to which we had been subjected at earlier times.

There is another question which causes me some concern, and that is the lack of co-ordination between traffic, whether it be air traffic or rail traffic, and shipping accommodation, let us say on the Pacific coast. Trans-Canada Air Lines is supposed, let us say, to land an aircraft at Vancouver airport, but because of fog, or for some reason, it cannot land there and it goes to the airport at Victoria. In an effort to get them to Vancouver the passengers should be transferred, one would suggest, probably to one of the liners that go back to Vancouver each night. But this is what happens: I understand that there have been instances where a whole cargo of air passengers has

been denied the right to book transportation aboard steamship because they are told there is no space available. Yet when certain of these passengers went to the wicket they found other people who were purchasing berths on that steamer. There should be some closer co-ordination, I would say between these various modes of transportation, especially when people cross the continent and are, apparently, in such a hurry that they must take the Trans-Canada Air Lines route.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, we welcome the setting up of this committee and we shall have further questions to put when it has been formed.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PENSIONS
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LIB

Frank A. Enfield

Liberal

Mr. F. A. Enfield (York-Scarborough):

Mr. Speaker, I intend, in a moment or two, to refer to the important subject of railway employment, but before I deal with that I might say that I think the committee which is to be set up under this resolution is probably one of the most important and active committees that we have sitting in this house.

When you think of the tremendous changes that are taking place in the field of transportation, whether it is seaway mileage, airway mileage or highway mileage, one can understand the need for imagination, initiative and good judgment in such a rapidly growing department. This opportunity occurs seldom, but I want to offer my congratulations to the minister on the tremendous job he is doing in administering this department.

I raise the problem to which I shall now refer because it appears to me to be of some urgency, and is one with regard to which I have received an unusually large number of representations, as, no doubt, have other hon. members of the house. It may well be something that the committee will wish to examine in detail, but I feel personally that it is important enough to raise at this time on the floor of the house. It concerns the two classes of employees on the railway-the organized non-operating employees on the one hand, and the unorganized non-operating employees on the other. The company produced a new health and welfare plan recently. It was negotiated last fall, and instituted on January 1 of this year.

On the one hand, a plan was negotiated by the union and management and recommended by the conciliation board for the organized employees, and on the other hand apparently the company produced this plan on January 1 for the unorganized employees. The protests I mentioned in my question on the orders of the day today concern two aspects of the plan, one being the sickness allowance under the two plans and the other the contributions paid by single employees of both classes, organized and unorganized.

Apparently over a 20 year period in the past the policy of the management of the Canadian National Railways with respect to all employees has been that non-operating monthly rated clerical employees were granted ten day's sick allowance per year. I think the principle involved is that if an employee is away for ten days the slack is taken up, his work is done by other employees and there is no additional cost to management. Hence this sickness allowance was made. Apparently when the organized employees plan was presented to them there was a change in the situation and the plan does not provide for this type of sickness allowance.

I might take a moment or two to say what it does provide so that we can compare it briefly with the plan for the unorganized employees. For the organized employees a sickness allowance of $40 per week or 75 per cent of base pay is allowed. On the other hand, in the plan offered by management to the unorganized employees a sickness allowance of 100 per cent of base pay for one week is provided. On the surface this does seem to be unfair. I presume the figures I have are accurate since they have been provided to me in this communication, and on the basis of these figures there seems to be an unfair discrepancy between the two plans. I do not know whether the discrepancy was intended to cause friction between these two particular classes of employees but from the representations being made it is certainly obvious that is exactly what is happening. The employees think the two systems are unfair and inequitable.

The second point raised is the question of the contribution to the two health plans. In the case of the unorganized employees the single non-operating employee pays $2.50 per month under the plan. How does this compare with the organized employees? Under their plan a single non-operating employee pays $4.25 a month, and remember that the plan represents the award of the conciliation board. Again it appears that there is a fairly wide discrepancy between the contributions required under the two plans.

The same conciliation board awarded a 12 per cent increase in salary to the unorganized employees and an 11 per cent increase to the organized employees. Apparently the difference of one per cent was allowed to pay the unorganized employee the amount of the contribution made by the company in the case of organized employees. It would seem that the one per cent amounts on the average to $4.69 per month. Of course, average figures are not the best figures and are not always a true indication of the situation. However, the $4.69 more than covers the company's 82715-1341

Committee on Railways and Shipping contribution in the case of organized employees so that the unorganized employee has a cheaper plan than associate employees who are organized.

I have endeavoured to outline very briefly the problem that Canadian National employees are faced with at this time. Unfortunately I have no further figures at my disposal now but I have attempted, with as much clarity as possible, to at least canvass the situation, and I recommend very strongly that this be one of the subjects that the minister takes into careful consideration before the committee. Somehow, and I do not know why, the management of Canadian National Railways has allowed a situation to arise which is creating disappointment, friction and other difficulties between two classes of its employees. As I say, I think this matter is worthy of the consideration of the house and the members of the committee.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS PENSIONS
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PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thomas M. Bell (Saint John-Alberl):

Mr. Speaker, it has been my custom each year when this committee has been set up to mention the fact that in addition to the estimates of Canadian National Railways and Trans-Canada Air Lines provision is also made for inquiry into the activities of Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships Limited. I want to say at the beginning that in the past the inquiry has been a full one and we have been quite satisfied with the information that has been given about the activities of the steamship line. But it is the lack of future planning-I have made this criticism many times-on the part of the government to which we take objection,

Last year the minister made the announcement that the Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships line would be dealt with on the basis of a five year plan, that is, that regardless of the losses we would be going ahead over the next five years and planning new ships and increasing trade promotion. But when we got into the committee we did. not feel that the government put forward any new thoughts it might have with respect to such promotion. At the time the announcement was made to which I have just referred the minister traced the history of the West Indies fleet back to the early days. There was always a loss on operations until the second world war when we were able to show some profit. But then the line encountered lean years again and the government stood by year after year without any definite plans and allowed the ships to deteriorate and trade to fall off.

Within the last ten years the department did show some interest, particularly when it realized there was some business in the West Indies for this company. New ships were

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Committee on Railways and Shipping purchased about 1945 and the older ships were refrigerated and brought up to date. There has not been any definite plan for the future with respect to this company, and I hope that this year we will be able to obtain a statement of policy from the minister and those whom we will be asking questions in the committee. The whole matter of transport and the sea is a problem that is fraught with many serious difficulties. A commission on coastal shipping sat some time ago but its report has not been brought down. Its hearings were completed before those of the Gordon commission and were not nearly as extensive, but we still have not received any word about its report. We have the complex problem of seaway tolls which involves of course the attitude of the United States. This matter too is interrelated. We also have proposed legislation for this session with respect to vessel construction. I have mentioned these matters in the house.

The minister does not agree that these are interrelated problems, but I believe they are interchangeable with each other. I think the difficulties we have with this Canadian National steamship line are also connected. I hope this year we shall also consider the new plans that are being made with the federation of the West Indies in mind-the new name is the Caribbean Federation-and its increasing future importance for Canada and for that area. Surely it would be a time to consider just how this new area of the commonwealth will be fitting into our plans. It would be a time for Canada to show some leadership. Of course, the way we could do that would be to come out with a new broad, strong policy with respect to a fleet to handle the trade that is in that area.

You may say, Mr. Speaker, that the minister and his department are not capable of this leadership, or that they are not capable of any future plans or aggressiveness. All we have to do is look at the icebreaking operations that go on in the St. Lawrence river every spring. We see there strong, aggressive action without any consideration for the feelings of the other parts of Canada. The Department of Transport move in there and of course they open up the seaway to the detriment of the ports of Saint John and Halifax. The minister and his department can show some leadership. I know they can. When we get into the committee I hope we shall have not only the full, complete and polite inquiry we have had in the past, but that we shall also have some strong aggressive leadership on behalf of the government with respect to the future of this very necessary fleet which is an important phase of our life on the east coast.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fori William):

Mr. Speaker, I too am interested in this resolution. On behalf of the minister 1 would say that he is always ready to listen to any suggestions we have to make. He is easily approached. I would say the same thing about Donald Gordon, the president of the Canadian National Railways. He too is willing to listen.

I think concrete examples are good. 1 had one man who was wronged for over eight years. He was called up to Winnipeg to fill the same position that he had in Fort William. When he arrived there something went wrong and the position was filled. He was called back and his salary was reduced by $40 a month. For eight years he remainded under that disability. Donald Gordon was informed, and word came back that he wanted contented workers. If that is the spirit of the president of the Canadian National Railways, I think it is a splendid cure for strikes. This man's case was splendidly handled, and he was contented afterwards.

I think the C. N. R. compares favourably with any other railway we have. In fact I think it is ahead of the C. P. R. in some ways. However, there is one way in which it is behind the C. P. R., namely in the matter of pensions for retired workers. Of course I may be prejudiced in favour of these men because I know them personally. I hope the minister will take seriously the needs of this group of men and will have their pensions increased.

There is another thing I should like to bring to the notice of the minister, namely the G-rule. When a man breaks the G-rule there is no mercy for him, and I think there should be some. If a man is caught drinking on the road he has no business there. But when a man gets sobered up and, after years of steady work, shows himself to be an outstanding credit to those who are interested in him, I think he should receive some consideration. I believe some consideration should be shown to a man who has given his life to work on the railroad. Even though he has broken the G-rule, I think he should be given some opportunity to make good later on.

Just think of the situation, Mr. Speaker, when a worker on the road takes a wee drop. Yet the C.P.R. and the C.N.R. will sell liquor on the road. If it is bad for the workers it is bad for everybody else on the road; and I think the minister should take this matter into consideration. The G-rule is a good rule, because no man has any right on the engine, or to act as conductor or to work on the road who cannot think clearly

and see straight. But when he makes good there should be some mercy for him.

The other thing is this. Why sell liquor on the road? People do not need it. If a man's thirst is so bad as that, he has no business riding on the road.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South):

Mr. Speaker, I am glad of another opportunity to serve on this committee. I believe service on this committee is an education to any member of the house. It gives a fairly good look at what makes the whole nation tick, not only on the rails but in the air and on the water.

I am not going to demand from the minister any concrete answers to the problems that committee will handle. I do not think it is his job to give them. I think it would be asking the impossible to ask him to answer the many questions that will come before that committee. However, I think this is not a bad time to put some ideas on the record for the benefit of Mr. Gordon and his witnesses, as a fair warning of what he may be asked to answer when he comes before the committee. It will give him a chance to think about the matters and perhaps get the proper answers.

For a start I should like to discuss the Maritime Freight Rates Act, but I am not going to do it here. I should like to take the Chignecto canal proposition and set it out as an answer to shortening the distance to markets from the maritime provinces into central Canada and over to the eastern United States. I believe the answer is to be found in the digging of that 14-mile canal across that neck of land that connects Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It could very well be done by the C.N.R.

I agree with the hon. member for York West when he pointed out, according to a newspaper article, that as far as passenger service was concerned and to a large extent freight,-that is lighter freight-the railways are going to lose that business in the foreseeable future. The C.N.R. is a big organization and has capable staffs. It has subsidiary companies. I do not see why it would not be good business for the C.N.R. to undertake that Chignecto canal proposition, put it through, put their own boats on that route, and in addition develop the huge power potential that goes along with that particular project.

I am not going to go into that matter any further now. I want Mr. Gordon to think about it. That is why I am putting it on the record. I think it is a project that is practical. It is reasonable in cost. What it could do to solve the problem of freight

Committee on Railways and Shipping rates in the maritime or Atlantic area would more than offset the small amount of money involved in putting that project through.

Another thing I should like Mr. Gordon to explain when he comes before the committee is why the relief and insurance association of the employees that has been in existence since 1890 is being relegated out of the picture. My information is that as of January of this year a new plan has been set up, but that it does not include those who were previously paying into this relief and insurance association. They number some 14,000.

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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

There are 10,500 members at present, with 3,600 retired and on this pension and some 90 who are in some kind of military service. But the entire 14,000 are still affected by the mechanics of that particular legislation within the national railways.

The point is this. This organization was maintained within Canadian National Railways by means of the check-off. The dues were collected in that way, but as of January this year the dues will be no longer collected in that way. It will be impossible to collect dues on a voluntary basis from coast to coast and that means that the association, the existence of which extends over a number of years, will go out of existence as a result of this oblique action taken by the railways. There is a death benefit from this fund as well as a sickness and accident supplement. The plan itself, designed at the time it was, served a useful purpose and could still serve a useful purpose.

I think when Mr. Gordon comes before the committee we should have an opportunity of obtaining a full explanation as to why this particular line of action was taken. I can understand the differentials in wage rates and classifications for different types of employees, but in the matter of social security provided by a system on a contributory basis I cannot understand why it is not on an industrial basis rather than broken into classifications. Everyone suffers equally during sickness, and there should be no differential in payments of that kind, either on the national railways or anywhere else.

In so far as this matter of the airways being a monopoly is concerned, I am sure no mature member of the house would refer to it in that way at this time. I listened to several hon. members, and I am glad to hear that the private companies are pulling up their socks; that they have now arrived at the point where they have the finances and the type of equipment that will enable them

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Committee on Railways and Shipping to maintain the safety standards established by the government regulated company on the main trunk lines. There is plenty of room for any company that has the money and can put the type of equipment in the air that will maintain the safety factors demanded, and rightly so, by the air transport board.

I am glad my hon. friend raised that question, because the question of monopoly no longer applies. We should be very thankful we had a body in Canada that had the foresight to put the type of equipment in the air that we have today and to bring about some regulation of air travel. Despite the fact there are a lot of precautions taken from time to time we do have accidents. Conditions could have been much worse if we had had a lot of topsy-turvy systems growing up without regulation, and without the necessary finances to put the proper type of equipment into the air.

There are many questions I should like to ask, but I will not do so now. I should like some more information about this coal-fired gas turbine development at McGill. What progress is it making? It has to go on the rails some time. I leave that question to Mr. Gordon. Of course, the answers to all these questions will have to be given by Mr. Gordon. I should like to find out something about future markets for coal within the Atlantic region of Canadian National Railways. Is it possible to provide subventions in that area that would guarantee the market over a long range period?

I do not expect the minister to answer these questions. I am merely putting them on the record now as a warning to Mr. Gordon that we will expect him to give us the concrete information necessary to solve some of these problems. However, I shall have an opportunity to discuss these matters personally with that gentleman when he appears before the committee.

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PC

Jay Waldo Monteith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. W. Monleilh (Perth):

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member for York West was speaking he quoted a few words spoken by Donald Gordon, to the effect that the day of the passenger train might be limited. I cannot quite agree with that, although in western Ontario I will say the trend seems to be definitely to do away with the passenger service and not give sufficient service for that district. I am thinking of one or two lines on which the mail service which has been given over the past few years was suddenly cut off. I do not think there is any doubt but what that will eventually lead to the elimination of the passenger service.

It is true that there has been a trend of late years towards the use of the automobile.

I would say that trend which did exist a few years ago is now reversing itself. More people wish to travel by rail. The highways are becoming crowded and the hazards of highway traffic are very great. I feel that there are more and more people wishing to use trains, but unfortunately they are being discouraged from doing so. This seems almost impossible to believe, but I know of one line on which there is a train, No. 218 out of Stratford to Fort Erie and No. 219 back to Stratford from Fort Erie on which the passenger coach used contains a stove. I cannot imagine trying to attract passengers with that type of equipment. At the same time there are passenger cars lying idle in the Stratford yards. These orders certainly do not come out of Stratford. They come out of Toronto or the head office in Montreal. I should have liked to have the opportunity, and I admit I would have had this opportunity if I had known earlier this resolution was coming up, to ascertain the revenue over the years, perhaps since 1950, from two or three lines out of Stratford on which the mail service has been discontinued. I feel that now the mail service is not being given by the railways these lines will earn that much less profit and eventually that will be used as an excuse to eliminate the passenger service.

I feel, sir, that the policy of the railways should be to give service; to modernize their equipment and make it attractive to the travelling public. I feel if they were to do that they would certainly attract more business. I believe the business is there to be obtained. I might mention another instance. Last year at the time of the Toronto exhibition, passenger cars were lying idle in the Stratford yards but the trains were overcrowded and people had to stand.

There is only one other matter I should like to mention. I should like to endorse completely what the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre said on behalf of the pensioners, those who are no longer employed by the railway. These pensions are certainly inadequate for today's living conditions. I should like also to suggest that the Minister of Transport examine the present inequity of the pensions of employees who were laid off and subsequently rehired, this layoff and subsequent rehiring taking place within the last five or ten years of their service.

I dealt with this particular point much more fully on April 17 last, at page 3025 of Hansard, and I do not propose to take up the time of the house now; but I would reiterate what I said at that time and suggest that the minister look into this matter and advise the officials to correct these injustices.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. C. Nowlan (Digby-Annapolis-Kings):

Mr. Speaker, this debate on the setting up of the Canadian National committee almost has an atmosphere of nostalgia about it. There was a time when in discussing railways we would discuss the great iron locomotives, the steam engines, and the romantic picture which they created in this country, but they have passed. The diesel is taking their place. It was suggested today that the fine passenger train has almost passed away, and everyone will be transported either by automobile or by plane.

As one who is somewhat old-fashioned, Mr. Speaker, one who is a conservative, at least a progressive one, I am not so progressive as not to like to travel by train, and I want to pay my word of tribute on behalf of the passenger service on the railways. I sometimes feel that of those who travel by plane probably a certain percentage-I would not want to guess the percentage-do so because they have to, and I suspect that a larger percentage travel by plane because they think it is the smart thing to do; they are sort of keeping up with the Joneses when they fly.

Possibly that atmosphere, that attitude of mind, is based on the passenger service which prevailed not too many years ago, a passenger service roughly akin to that to which the hon. member referred a few moments ago, when you still had passenger trains in this country with stoves in them. I know of one passenger car which is operated with old oil lamps in it, and every time the car dips in the spring when the frost is coming out of the ground the oil splatters over the passengers. That is not entirely an inducement to travel by passenger train.

There has been a tremendous advance made on this score, and I want to give the minister and management of Canadian National Railways full credit for what has been done in improving the railway service in the east. We hear talk about the Super Continental, which undoubtedly is one of Canada's great trains, and the Canadian of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is another great train of which we are all proud. Coming from the east, as I do, I want to say that in my opinion the Ocean Limited operated between Halifax and Montreal by the Canadian National is of an equal standard and is as deserving of the same commendation as are any of the other so-called great trains in Canada. To the company, the management and the minister, wherever the credit may lie, I certainly want to give it. Of course the same thing applies not only to the Canadian National but to the Canadian Pacific as well in the train they are operating from Saint John to Montreal.

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Committee on Railways and Shipping

I do think something could be done in the way of attracting passenger service. I certainly agree with the hon. member who spoke immediately before me in that respect. We have had an example on our own railway in Nova Scotia. It is not a Canadian National railway, it is true; it is one of the subsidiaries of the Canadian Pacific. The old-fashioned passenger trains were taken off and one of the day liners was put on. I am told the result is that passenger travel increased something like 400 per cent in the last few months because of the efficiency of the service which has been given. Therefore I certainly want, for perhaps my own peace of mind-because I would hate to live to see the day when passenger service is discontinued-to emphasize the importance of providing better service and to give credit for what has been done in this regard up to the moment.

Much could be said about the dining car service. Something was said about dinettes. We have not got them in the east. Of course it does present a problem. I know many of those working on the dining cars today are in this position. Waiters must have as long as 15 years of service in order to hold down appointments on dining cars during the winter time. That has been the situation in the east, so I am told, during the slack season in the winter. Waiters with less experience than that have necessarily had to be laid off. I suppose as the dinette service is encouraged more and more will be laid off.

One complaint I have heard from dining car stewards-I know most of them; I have eaten with them and have had them prepare meals-is that they sometimes resent the fact that they have inflicted upon them, or imposed upon them, menus three months in advance; and the latitude, the choice, they exercised at one time in setting up their own menus for their passengers whom they knew has been taken away. Personally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to see a little more latitude given to these train crews, these very efficient, courteous and able employees of the company. Give them a little more latitude in dealing with this matter.

The hon. member for Saint John-Albert referred to the Canadian National Steamships. I simply want to add my voice to what he said this afternoon. I have raised the matter on other occasions. The minister knows I have spoken about it at length in other years and I do not propose to emphasize it today. But, Mr. Speaker, of course, neither am I unconscious of the fact that a good thing deserves commendation, and other matters should not be entirely overlooked in a preelection session. Therefore I am again emphasizing the importance of strengthening

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Committee on Railways and Shipping and widening the Canadian National Steamships operating out of the Atlantic ports. As the hon. member for Saint John-Albert said, the Caribbean and South America are great potential markets for agricultural and other products of eastern Canada.

The minister knows very well from conversations we have had-and he has no control over it at the moment-of the inadequate cold storage facilities they possess. I think the minister will agree privately that it would be advantageous for Canada if there could be the development and inauguration of a modern steamship service so that adequate cold storage facilities could be provided and when you sent down a few barrels or a few boxes of apples to the West Indies, for instance, you would not be prevented from shipping a few pounds of butter, or if you shipped down a few pounds of butter you would not be prevented from shipping down the apples. That is roughly the situation at the moment with respect to the Canadian National Steamships operating out of Halifax so far as the Caribbean is concerned.

As the hon. member for Cape Breton South pointed out, whatever may be the advantages of the Chignecto canal, I do not know that it is a matter for discussion on this motion. I doubt whether it comes within the ambit of this Canadian National committee; but I do believe that within the next relatively few years there is going to be a tremendous market develop, a tremendous industrial area on the north shore of the St. Lawrence in the minister's own province. If certain policies are maintained there about the control of power so that industry has to locate there, I can foresee within the next 10 or 15 years a very substantial market for agricultural and other products on the north shore of the St. Lawrence adjacent to tremendous hydro developments which are within the scope of that province. One thing needed there is the development of a Canadian National Steamships service so those of us on the east coast will be able to take advantage of that market by water.

Another matter which was raised by the hon. member for Cape Breton South was the pension scheme which applies to the employees of the Canadian Government Railways and, of course, originally the old Intercolonial Railway. It is a complicated matter. I do not propose to discuss it now. Frankly I do not know enough about it to discuss it, but I was receiving letters from a gentleman who was in touch with the Canadian government employees in Moncton, as a matter of fact one who recently lost his life in that tragic air accident, Hon. Babbitt Parlee. He sent me some memos, some briefs

and some arguments with respect to that matter and was in touch, I know with government employees in Moncton who felt concerned about this change which was impending. As I understand it, no definite decision has been taken with respect to this, and I do hope that when the committee meets there will be a full and frank study with respect to the change which is proposed, a change which, rightly or wrongly, many employees of the old Canadian Government Railway and a substantial part of the employees of the old Intercolonial Railway feel is prejudicial to them and is unnecessary. They feel that their rights should be protected, which otherwise might be lost under this scheme.

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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Applewhaite):

It

being five o'clock the house will proceed to the consideration of private and public bills.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

March 12, 1957