Mr. Chairman, even if the hon. minister has read that article, I feel it is important that it be read to the house, as it contradicts the statements he has just made. The article is entitled:
Sunday work for postal workers.
The employees of the central post office will have to put in their eight-hour day.
From now on employees of the Montreal Central Post Office who work on Sundays, either regularly or irregularly, will have to attend mass on their own time. The formerly allowed forty-five minute period will be discontinued starting tomorrow, March 10.
Incidentally, Mir. Chairman, may I say that if time off previously allowed has been discontinued, this is clear inference that it existed. Therefore, if there was no definite regulation to that effect, as stated by the
hon. minister, there was at least a tradition which allowed time off to employees, or which perhaps gave the postmaster discretion to grant such time off.
I am not going to read the whole article, because it is not necessary, but I would merely point out that, at the close, it states:
It is felt, at the Post Office, that employees have ample opportunity to attend the early morning masses (i.e. at 6 a.m. in several churches) or even in the late afternoon (5.15 p.m.) at Notre-Dame.
I wonder, Mr. Chairman, why they specify Notre Dame church. To attend mass at 6 a.m., a postal employee who has to work right downtown, say at the corner of Craig and Windsor, and who lives in Ahuntsic, somewhere in northern Montreal, or again in Ville St. Laurent or Ville St. Michel, would then have to get up at five o'clock. If he has to report for work at 7.45 and doesn't want to be late-because everyone knows what happens to a postal employee in Montreal when he is late-he will have to wait till he is through, at 4.30 p.m., to attend mass at 5.15 at Notre Dame church. He will then have to travel from his place of work to Notre Dame church, spend there three-quarters of an hour or one hour at the religious service and take a further hour to get home.
I believe that the explanation given by the postmaster, and that given this afternoon by the hon. minister are anything but encouraging for the postal employees. In my opinion the statement by the minister to the effect that the regulations are the same in every department, is not quite accurate. It is well known that here in Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, on days of obligation, the various departments grant their employees one hour to attend religious services. If an employee starts working at nine, he is granted the privilege to report at ten, and I do not believe the hon. minister can deny that. If there has been a regulation established by the civil service commission, it certainly has not been followed in the past. May I say again that in Montreal, until March the 10th last, i.e. up until four days ago, on the eight hour period a postal employee was supposed to work, he was granted 45 minutes to attend religious services.
So I am now going to ask the minister whether he intends to take steps to grant Montreal postal employees the same privileges as are enjoyed by others, and to see that the postmaster of Montreal follows the same policy as is followed everywhere else.