March 23, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Thomas Reid



They will not transport much lumber by air. I am afraid this shipping company and the lumber interests are going to find themselves in difficulties if they have to come to a board sitting in Ottawa and ask that this shipping line be allowed to transport lumber to Montreal or Quebec. Probably they will be asked by the board: "Why do you want to go into this business now? There are two railways serving the 51952-103J
Pacific coast; we urge you to go back and use them." If this business of transport is to be carried out according to the proposed legislation, and British Columbia is to be faced with conditions such as those outlined in the bill, it will be to her disadvantage. We have no competitive lines such as are found in the eastern provinces.
On the last page of the bill these words are used:
Nothing in this part contained shall affect any right or obligation, granted or imposed by the Maritime Freight Rates Act.
I wonder why they left out the Crowsnest Pass rates?-because they are specifically mentioned in the present Railway Act, with the Maritime Freight Rates Act. The reason for this omission will perhaps be stated in committee; at the moment I simply draw the minister's attention to the fact.
I should like to deal now with some of the arguments put before the house by the minister on the introduction of the bill. I realize the minister's anxiety to obtain revenue, but I suggest that he is going about it in the wrong way. My own view is, using an expression which may not be strictly parliamentary, that he is going to hog-tie all present and future transportation systems, and is going to bolster up a railway system which, in my view, refuses to be modernized.
I shall take one or two minutes to point out to the minister where the great losses occur on our railways, and the danger in the fact that freight traffic is being called upon to bear a heavy burden. I know the statement has been made that Canada has the lowest freight rate structure in the world. Well, that is a wide statement. Perhaps if one had time to go into it he could show that there are certain goods carried in Canada which are charged a very excessive rate indeed.
In connection with losses may I say, first of all, that in 1922 there were 165,655 employees who received salaries of $233,290,040, or an average of $1,408. That amount has been decreasing, until in 1936 we find there were only 132,781 employees receiving a total salary of $182,638,365, or an average of $1,375 per employee. I mention those figures because I am going to endeavour to show to the House of Commons that there is something more seriously wrong with our railways than is usually pointed out by many speakers both in and out of this chamber. In 1922 more than 44,000,000 passengers were carried, with an average receipt per passenger of 2-82 cents per mile. The average receipts in the year per passenger amounted to $1.79.
Transport Commission

That figure has steadily decreased until we find that last year only 20,497,000 passengers were carried, with the average passenger receipt decreasing to $1.58. The freight traffic has not dropped to the same extent. In 1922 over 87,000,000 tons of freight were hauled. The receipts per ton averaged $2.01 and the receipts per ton mile averaged, $1,039. In 1935- I have not the figures for 1936-the freight hauled had decreased to 69,141,100 tons whereas the receipts per ton had increased to $3.06 and the receipts per ton mile had decreased only to $0,972. I am endeavouring to show that whereas there has been a considerable decrease in the case of the number of passengers carried and the revenue derived therefrom, the decrease in revenue from freight has not been nearly as great. While the freight tonnnage has decreased, at the present time it is paying more per ton than it did in 1922 or in the other years I have mentioned.
The total operating expenses of both railways in 1920 was $478,000,000, whereas in 1935 they had dropped to $261,000,000. In the meantime a number of economies had been brought about in operation. For instance three trains in 1928 equalled four in 1920. The total car capacity has been increased although the number of freight cars had dropped from something like 224,000 in 1920 to 217,000 in 1935. Fuel and upkeep costs are less and there has been a decrease in general expenses. The number of freight cars per freight train is greater and the number of employees and the compensation paid is less. Yet we have before us a bill which to my mind will load a little more on that part of the business which is already overburdened, the freight end. In spite of the fact that passenger traffic has dropped in Canada from 51,000,000 in 1919 to just over 20,000,000 last year, freight traffic has increased, as well as the receipts per ton mile.
In my opinion the minister is going about this matter in the wrong way if he expects to increase the receipts of our railways. I should like to refer briefly to what has taken place in the old country; both the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) and the minister referred to that when they were speaking on the bill. We must bear in mind that this bill is not patterned after anything that now exists in the old eountry. As was pointed out by the leader of the opposition, it is an experiment; therefore we should be very careful about the provisions of the bill. In the old country there has been inaugurated a new system of goods rates and passenger fares which abolishes preferential and exceptional charges. It has been stipulated that wherever possible the
[Mr. Heid.3
scales of rates and tariffs shall be applied impartially over the whole system. According to this record, the passenger receipts last year in Great Britain per ton mile averaged $3.88 as compared with $1.58 for Canada.

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