April 6, 1957

PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

May I ask a question of the minister; perhaps this occurs when the old contract is up, say, and new contracts are called for. Supposing the successful contractor's tender is lower than what is paid to the old contractor. Is there a readjustment made after that, or just what is the situation?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

If it was before October 1, yes.

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PC
LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

The item in the estimates mentions October 1, and if it was before October 1, 1956, there would be a readjustment; there have been quite a few cases like that.

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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

But supposing it was not before October 1, what is the result? Say it was up next year?

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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

He would have to wait two years under the act.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

The policy in the past seemed to have been a very fair one; what is bothering me now is the answer given by the minister to the hon. member for Royal a few minutes ago.

In the past, if I have understood the policy correctly, you have tried to use the rural mail couriers and treat them alike in so far as mileage and so on were concerned. I say this because I have letters on file over the last two years in which they point out that a certain man may have asked for an increase. Another man say 20 miles, 30 miles or 40 miles away under similar conditions was only getting so much, therefore this was fair for this particular rural mail courier.

Now, as I understand it, the policy of the department is that they will pay a rural mail courier on the standard of wages he might earn if he were working in that community in some other industry. I do not think that is quite the same as treating them on the grounds on which they have been treated in the past, because a man could very well earn $2,500 a year in one community and 50 miles away he could not earn that amount of money. Therefore if you are going to base it on the Department of Labour figures I think you are going to have an irregular level of contract prices, and in that case it will not be as satisfactory as it has been in the past.

I must say that in the last few years it seems to me the department has been using very good judgment in increasing these rates for rural mail couriers. That is a fair way of handling it. As I pointed out a year ago, certain other practices which are creeping into this department are not to my liking. This is another thing of the same kind.

I suppose it is early to talk about it; we shall have to wait for a year and see, but I am afraid I shall find that some mail carriers in my constituency will receive the increase while others, using the same equipment, travelling the same distances and working the same hours, will not receive it. I want to see all rural mail carriers treated in the same way, and I think their remuneration should be based on the mileage and service given, as was done in the past, if I understand the position correctly, and not on local wages or employment conditions.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

I can assure the hon. member that his fears are not justified. We are applying the same principle in this connection, but we are being more generous in view of the increased cost of operation and the increase in wages generally. This policy was followed because it was so specified in the act, and the section of the act referring to this increase said the increased amounts were not to exceed the amounts paid generally for comparable services in the same area.

This is the policy we have followed in making these readjustments, and we take into consideration the hourly wage for similar work in the area, the distance to be covered and the number of boxes to be served. Of course the distance covered and the number of boxes would bring in the time element; the greater the distance covered and the more boxes, the longer it will take for the route to be completed. That, together with the hourly wage, will give us an idea as to what the general average adjustment should be, and that is the principle we have followed all along. I can assure the hon. member that what he fears will not take place. I am quite certain of that.

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PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

May I ask this further question. I recall that in former times these contracts were usually renewed by tender. Tenders were called for when a contract was to be given out. Is there not a tendency nowadays not to call for tenders but simply to renew the existing contract?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

No, there has been no change in that respect. This is being done purely to adjust the prices of contracts now in effect. It makes no change in the rest of the policy.

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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

As the minister knows, I have a little empire right in the centre of the province of Ontario. Generally speaking routes are comparable, though there be one or two exceptions. I think the combination of mileage and boxes is a fair way of estimating the cost of distribution or the price that should be paid.

A year or more ago I do not know exactly what happened, but one contractor lost his contract to another who had probably underbid him by a few cents. Since that time, it is true, a few contractors have applied for and obtained small increases, but most of the couriers in my area are veterans or people rising in years or incapacitated in one way or another, and they are very nervous about applying for increases. Even though they feel their remuneration should be increased, they are very hesitant about making application in case they should lose their jobs. I understand that all the contracts will now be examined and put on a fair and equitable basis.

Supply-Post Office

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

None of them need apply.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

I

have a couple of questions to ask, but perhaps I should say first of all that I read with a good deal of pleasure the announcement of the appointment of the assistant deputy minister of this department. He has been with the department a long time and has rendered fine service. The approaching retirement, also announced, of the present deputy minister has indicated the need for a replacement, and certainly we saw with considerable pleasure that Mr. Boyle would be one of the people to be considered. For years he has rendered outstanding service to the people of Canada in this department.

To proceed with other matters, would the minister care to comment on whether we are able to continue an all-up air mail service in Canada, and whether he anticipates doing so despite the change to a new type of aircraft which is being made by Trans-Canada Air Lines, in putting into service a plane which has considerably less mail carrying capacity than the former type?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Yes, I am told that this matter has been considered and that we will be able to continue that service. There were some difficulties at the beginning in connection with schedules, but now all these difficulties have been adjusted in a manner which permits us to continue the service. I am informed that as T.C.A. continues to develop this service the mail carrying capacity will be increased.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

Actually it is not a question of the capacity of the existing aircraft. New aircraft are coming into operation which will help deal with this situation within two or three years, but I am glad to learn that at the present time this seems to be under control.

On another question, I know the department has a policy that all mail weighing up to eight ounces shall be carried by air where its delivery may be speeded by so doing. Does that policy apply to all mail-and I emphasize that word "all"-or only to mail within certain dimensions?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

First-class mail up to eight ounces.

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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Noire Dame de Grace):

The

reason I ask is that on certain occasions-and I have checked this-small letters in regular No. 8 or No. 10 envelopes seem to have covered the route say from Ottawa to Montreal substantially faster than mail in large size envelopes, perhaps 11 inches by 14 inches, mailed at the same time. I have made enough checks on this to make it worth while asking again for confirmation whether

Supply-Post Office

mail weighing less than eight ounces but contained in large envelopes is still carried by air.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

I am informed that the size of the envelope has nothing to do with it; it is purely a question of class and weight.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

Would the minister tell us what was the increased cost when we put into operation this all-up service a couple of years ago? This was information which he agreed to give last year during the sittings of the special committee on estimates as reported at page 697, when his cost ascertainment division got into operation.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Does the hon. member mean the increase in cost for air services?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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April 6, 1957