May 30, 1913 (12th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

Charles Avila Wilson

Liberal

Mr. WILSON (Laval) :

I am delighted to hear the Minister of Justice make a declaration of the principle contained in this resolution. He says it is to assimilate the salaries of the officers of the different penitentiaries in this Dominion, but I am afraid he has not carried out his intention to the fullest extent. There is a good reason why the salaries of penitentiary officials should be assimilated, because although there are 50 or 100 convicts more or less in one penitentiary than in another the duties of the officers are just as strenuous. Under the I previous regime, as I had an opportunity

to inform the House a few days ago, with the concurrence of other members of this House who had penitentiaries in their ridings, and who took a special interest in the matter, I drafted a bill to which a schedule -was attached. Though I congratulate the Minister of Justice in bringing this resolution down, because it will help the employees of the penitentiaries a good deal, I do not think that the minister has gone far enough. These questions of salary come up at every Parliament. We should legislate for some years in advance. The cost of living has increased quite a lot during the last five or six years. Is it likely to increase more? It may, and it may not, but I think every wise man in this country will come to the conclusion that it will at least remain in the present position for a few years anyway. What I propose is that the warden of each penitentiary should get $3,000 a year. I would remind the Minister of Justice that if we go back to the 70's or 80's we find that the warden at St. Vincent de Paul, in the days when the cost of living was certainly 50 per cent less than it is to-day, had a salary of $2,600, and in addition he was entitled to lodging, heating, and even furniture, from cellar to roof. Now the wardens of the different penitentiaries are obliged to furnish their own homes, and the cost of living has doubled. I would refer my hon. friend to ex-warden Ouimet, for corroboration of what I say. Before 1897 he had $2,800, so that practically the new schedule simply puts them in the position that they were in 17 years ago. I do not see much progress, so far as the salary of the warden is concerned. I would suggest that the salary of the warden be $3,000. The salary of the deputy Warden is raised in this schedule by $300 to $1,800. I would make the salary of the deputy warden $2,000. I do not think it would be too much. The responsibility of the warden is great, there is no doubt about that, but the officer who has the responsibility of maintaining discipline, and who is responsible for the running of' the penitentiary, is the deputy warden. According to our regulations, he is bound to live within the walls of the institution. He is the man who gets up first in the morning, sees that the Staff is in order, and that the machinery of the institution is running as it should run. He is also the officer responsible for the discipline of the guards. His salary should be $2,000. As for the chaplains, I see they remain at the same salary, $1,200. But there is a proviso which is difficult of interpretation, at least so far as the Roman Catholic chaplains are concerned. What is the outside work to which reference is made in the proviso? My hon. friend the Minister of Justice is a Roman Catholic, and knows perfectly what I mean. Suppose there is a grand ceremony at the church in the neighbouring parish, Mr. WILSON (Laval).
and the archbishop or some high dignitary of the church is present. It is the custom for all the clergy around to gather, and sometimes the ceremony has the character of extraordinary grandeur. It may bring some remuneration in some cases. Or suppose there is a high class funeral service, the clergy in the district might wish to take part. I would suggest that the law remain as it is, and that the proviso be striken out. I think we might rely upon our ministers in the performance of their duties.

Topic:   PENITENTIARY ACT AMENDMENT.
Full View