May 27, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


Abraham Albert Heaps



It is public funds that are being expended, Where public funds are being expended we ought to insist on fair labour conditions being observed. Wherever the equipment happens to be made we ought to insist on fair wages being paid in those shops in exactly the same way as they are paid in the government railway shops. It is most unfair that shops in which wages are about one-half to two-thirds of those paid in organized shops should compete with shops where fair wages are being paid.
Assuming contracts are let, the committee have the right to know the basis on which they will be let. Is it to be by open tender? Are the government railways shops to be allowed to bid for this work? If the work is to be let by contract I think every railway shop that is equipped to manufacture such equipment should have an opportunity of tendering, including the government railway shops. In spite of letters submitted here from Mr. Hungerford and Mr. Coleman, I am prepared to accept the statement of mechanics working in those shops, men who have given a lifetime of service in the manufacture of railway equipment, when they tell me that such equipment can be produced in those shops. If contracts are to be let we ought to know whether they are going to be let at a fixed price or by tender, open tender, in which case the railway shops should be allowed to tender. I am informed by men employed in the railway shops that equipment can be produced there as cheaply as in the privately owned shops. It is correct to say that the contract shops have been closed now for quite a long time. That being so I assume very little harm would be done in many cases if they were allowed to remain closed and the work
*vere given to the shops that are at least equipped and prepared to accept the work which this sum of money involves, and where decent wages are paid according to Canadian standards. I am informed that the number of men employed in these private contract shops at the present time amounts to only a few hundred for all the shops. I am told that a few are employed at Kingston for the manufacture of locomotives, but very few at some of the other places; and I doubt whether any hardship would he inflicted if the work were not given to these contract shops. The argument of the minister that we should not allow these shops to go into bankruptcy may sound very well. I do not want to see any concern forced into bankruptcy, but I have heard it argued in this house-I do not know that the minister has not used the argument himself-that it might have been a good thing if the national railway system had gone into bankruptcy before the government took it over.

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