January 30, 1970

PRIVILEGE

MR. KNOWLES (WINNIPEG NORTH CENTRE)- NATIONAL PRESS CLUB INVITATION

NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I must again rise on a question of privilege. I do so with reference to a document that has come to all of us. It purports to be from my friend, Bruce Phillips, president of the National Press Club.

At the outset I should like to make it clear that all of us in this place know the difference between the National Press Club and the Parliamentary Press Gallery. As I say, this matter relates to the National Press Club which has its quarters in a government building located at 150 Wellington Street. This letter starts off as follows:

Honourable Members of the Senate and the House of Commons,

Gentlemen:

All of us received a copy of this letter. I checked with my friend the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mrs. Maclnnis). She received it although it was just stuck in the box with no envelope. She does not know whether she is invited or not. She received the document but she is no gentleman. I understand the same dilemma obtains in respect of women members of the other place.

I know that in grammatical terms the masculine includes both masculine and feminine. I know that in the Interpretation Act the masculine is to be read both ways. But in the context of current events and in view of the fact that the National Press Club has in its constitution a ban on the admission of women to its membership and in view of the fact that this matter has been raised several times recently in Parliament, it seems to me this document is either an act of gross discourtesy to Members of Parliament, particularly the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway and women members of the other place, or it is a calculated insult because of the questions we have raised about this matter.

The document is an invitation to all of us to attend an event which I should like to attend, for it has to do with recalling the anniversary of the night the House burned, but how can I? I point out that one reason for this question of privilege is that in the letter there is a specific request that the Speakers of both Houses and the leaders of all parties be in attendance. It seems to me that so long as the National Press Club practises discrimination we should consider seriously whether with propriety any of us, including Your Honour, can accept this invitation. I have not drafted a motion-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES (WINNIPEG NORTH CENTRE)- NATIONAL PRESS CLUB INVITATION
Permalink
LIB

George James McIlraith (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

You are seeking publicity.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES (WINNIPEG NORTH CENTRE)- NATIONAL PRESS CLUB INVITATION
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

-because it could be that this document is a fraud. It could be that we should assume that the National Press Club would not be so stupid as to send this out. In that case maybe what is necessary is an investigation to find out how this document came into our possession. In any event, I believe the matter should be considered by all of us.

[DOT] (11:10 a.m.)

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. KNOWLES (WINNIPEG NORTH CENTRE)- NATIONAL PRESS CLUB INVITATION
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

PUBLIC SERVICE

LIB

James Armstrong Richardson (Minister of Supply and Services)

Liberal

Hon. James Richardson (Minister of Supply and Services):

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to advise the House that most of the delays and difficulties which have recently been experienced in the government pay system have now been resolved.

In making this statement I would like to express my thanks to several hon. members who have brought particular pay problems and particular cases to our attention.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

It is our pleasure.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
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LIB

James Armstrong Richardson (Minister of Supply and Services)

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

At this time I would like to report on the present position in the Central Pay Office and also on the government's plans for continuing to improve the pay process.

January 30, 1970

3018 COMMONS

Public Service Retroactive Pay Cheques

During the past year the government has signed 78 collective agreements covering 185,000 of its employees. In addition, the government has negotiated another 36 collective agreements for employees in Crown Corporations, boards and agencies. Most of these agreements include retroactive pay increases back as far as two years or more. This enormous volume of pay changes imposed an unprecedented burden on the departmental personnel officers and also on our paying offices. The size of this burden is made evident by the fact that during the last nine months of 1969 the Central Pay Office alone issued over 100,000 cheques for retroactive pay increases.

It should be emphasized that at no time did the government pay offices fail to process and to issue regular salary cheques on time. The delays which have been of concern to the government and understandably frustrating to some of its employees have been with respect to the delays in receiving increases in pay.

When the backlog of pay changes began to climb as a result of the increasing flow of collective agreements, a number of steps were taken. We employed 75 additional personnel, we worked an average of 3,000 hours a month overtime, and we strengthened the management of the paying offices.

The result of these actions was that by last November we were able to meet our initial objective of having the paying offices in a current position with respect to the implementation of collective agreements; that is to say, if some employees were not receiving on time retroactive pay increases due them under a collective agreement, the problem was not in the paying offices but in other areas of the pay process. Every effort has been made through the personnel offices of the departments and through the staff associations to identify such cases and to take immediate action.

As soon as we were up to date with the implementation of collective agreements we were able to turn our full attention to the processing of normal pay changes, that is, pay changes for employees who are promoted, who go on leave without pay, who retire, or who change their medical or other deductions. Every month our paying offices receive more than 75,000 pay changes of this type. The backlog of these normal pay changes had built up to a serious level, but I am pleased to be able to report to the House that it has been reduced steadily in recent weeks and

IMr. Richardson.]

that within the next few days the backlog will be down to a very small number of unresolved cases.

Now that the current difficulties have been overcome-I want to emphasize this-because of the hard work of many people in the departments and in the paying offices, we have an opportunity to undertake a fundamental examination of the pay system. To make the most of this opportunity, and to help make certain that the recent difficulties will not recur, I intend to engage a firm of Canadian management consultants to examine all aspects of the government's pay system.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

Here we go again, more Liberals on the pay roll.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
Permalink
LIB

James Armstrong Richardson (Minister of Supply and Services)

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

My intention is that our pay system should be re-examined in terms of its responsiveness to the present system of collective bargaining in the Public Service, in terms of its relationship to over-all government personnel policy, and in terms of the ease with which an individual can understand how his salary cheque is calculated. It is my hope that representatives of the staff associations will be actively involved in this examination to express the point of view of their members.

I hope I have made it clear, Mr. Speaker, that we intend to do everything possible to ensure that the pay system measures up to the high standards of the government and to the understandably high expectations of its employees.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
Permalink
PC

Robert Carman Coates

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert C. Coates (Cumberland-Colches-ter North):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note the minister now feels that the Central Pay Office is in a current position with respect to the implementation of collective agreements. I wonder whether the minister is referring to agreements affecting employees in the Ottawa area or across Canada, for I was informed this week that 13 employees in my constituency have been waiting since last May for both their retroactive pay and increases under a collective agreement and, unless they received them in the mail today, are still waiting to secure the increases agreed upon.

The minister points out the large volume of collective agreements and the tremendous volume of changes in the amount employees have received both in pay increases and retroactive pay, but there can be no excuse for the very substantial delays that have developed between the signing of agreements and the date on which such increases have

January 30, 1970

been effected. The government knew what would transpire when the system was altered but, like everything else this government does, they did not prepare themselves for the situation that did in fact develop and as a result people have suffered and continue to suffer.

Now the minister informs us that the future will be bright because another firm of management consultants will be hired by the government to examine all aspects of the government pay system. At this late date the minister has decided that the whole pay structure system should be examined. If the government continues to hire management consultants at the present rate we will soon be informed that they are hiring a firm of management consultants to study the work of the multitude of management consultant firms they have retained to study the oversights they have failed to anticipate when they undertook changes. If management consultants were required by the Department of Supply and Services, they were required before and not after they got into this mess, and surely they should be able to determine now within the government service, and without the additional expense of outside consultants, what should be done. The Department of Supply and Services should be setting an example for other departments in examining and solving problems rather than shifting the onus to agencies outside the government to solve problems that should not have been allowed to develop with such severity and dislocation in the first place.

The minister must know that his explanation is far from satisfactory with regard to the inability of his department to deal with the situation that developed. Certainly the 185,000 employees know this to be the case.

Because of the inability of the government to anticipate the problems that would ensue the taxpayers of this nation have been burdened with the expense of an additional 75 employees and payment for 3,000 hours of overtime. This, Mr. Speaker, is just not good enough and indicates the inability of this government to cope with the problems of the day.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the Minister of Supply and Services for providing us two or three hours ago with a copy of this statement and I thank him for making it in the House this morning.

DEBATES 3019

Public Service Retroactive Pay Cheques

[DOT] (11:20 a.m.)

Whether or not the delays and difficulties which have been experienced recently have been resolved will be established, I imagine, within hours. If it is true, we will not hear anything about the matter but if it is not true we will continue to hear from those who have not got their retroactive pay cheques.

Other than that initial comment, there are three brief remarks I should like to make. First, I join with the Minister of Supply and Services in criticizing the other areas of government that have been far too slow with respect to the matter of pay increases. As the minister has said on two or three occasions, he is only at the end of the pipeline. It is somewhere downstream, or upstream, that the delay has taken place. I earnestly hope that the business of getting collective bargaining going and pay increases put into effect will be speeded up and that the Minister of Supply and Services will not have to level this criticism against other areas of government.

The second of my three comments I suppose has been made for me by the preceding speaker. I, too, am afraid that this firm of management consultants will get in the way. We shall have to have more of them. In the end a white paper will have to be put out and, eventually, we shall have to have a reference to a committee. It seems to me that there ought to be a simpler way of straightening out this problem.

My third comment is that the paragraph I like best in the statement is the penultimate one which says:

It is my hope that representatives of the staff associations will be actively involved in this examination to express the point of view of their members.

I trust that the minister will turn that hope into an assertion. I have noted with interest the comments on this question which have been made, notably by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. They have made it clear that the main trouble is not with those who are working in the Central Pay Office but with the system, and they have ideas as to how the system can be improved. Their approach to this question is much more practical than that of management consultants. I hope the minister will not just hope that these people can get involved but will bring them in very actively and obtain their assistance in straightening out this situation so that these delays may be a thing of the past.

Public Accounts

January 30, 1970

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
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RA

Bernard Dumont

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Bernard Dumont (Frontenac):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the minister lor sending us the French version of the statement he has just made.

We are pleased with the improvement mentioned by the minister and with the fact that the Treasury Board has always performed his task well. In his statement, the minister points out that the complaints by hon. members were given careful consideration. It is to the credit of the minister and for us encouragement to keep on asking for justice in Parliament.

We must, however, deplore the delay in payment of the 7 per cent premium to all bilingual employees. This delay, to my mind unjustified, does not further the cause of good understanding in Canada. I therefore urge the minister to give this problem special attention, particularly in the case of members of the House of Commons Protective Service who receive no recognition for being bilingual. It is so satisfying to French-speaking visitors to be welcomed in French in the parliament buildings that I feel special attention should be given to these guards who have long been deprived of something to which they are entitled.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC SERVICE
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ISSUING OF RETROACTIVE PAY CHEQUES
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PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

COMPLETION OF COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO PARAGRAPH 101 OF AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT

LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Donald S. Macdonald (President of the Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the representatives of the parties with respect to a possible order of the House which would permit the Public Accounts Committee to complete the work it had under way during the previous session. I think there might be found to be general agreement for an order of the House in the following terms:

That a copy of the Minutes of the Proceedings and Evidence of, and all papers produced before, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts during the first session of the twenty-eighth Parliament in relation to the committee's inquiry into paragraph 101 of the Auditor General's report for the year ended March 31, 1967, be laid before the House and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

If there is agreement, Mr. Speaker, perhaps that could be made an order of the House.

Topic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Subtopic:   COMPLETION OF COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO PARAGRAPH 101 OF AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Is it agreed?

Topic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Subtopic:   COMPLETION OF COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO PARAGRAPH 101 OF AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre) .1

Topic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Subtopic:   COMPLETION OF COMMITTEE INQUIRY INTO PARAGRAPH 101 OF AUDITOR GENERAL'S REPORT
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January 30, 1970