July 20, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS:

I wish to call the attention of the Acting Postmaster General to a matter which I have on more than one occasion brought to the attention of former Postmaster Generals. I realize that it is not a very easy matter to deal with, but nevertheless justice and fairness demand that it should be dealt with. It must be apparent to every member of this committee that the inauguration of parcel post and rural mail delivery has imposed a great deal of extra work upon the country postmaster. Many post offices have been cut off entirely owing to the establishment of rural routes, and this has necessarily increased the work of the post offices that are left. In many cases the country post office has become the distributing point for rural routes within a radius of 15 or 20 miles. That means a great deal of extra work and longer hours for the country postmaster, for which he is not adequately paid. His remuneration is certainly not in proportion to the extra work that has been thrown upon him by these changed conditions.
There is another point. Many of the men who have submitted tenders as couriers on the rural routes .are not receiving the remuneration they should receive, having regard to the. extra work that the parcel post has thrown upon them. Previous to the establishment of the parcel post, the courier added to his salary by charging 10, 15 or 25 cents for carrying parcels, but now he has

to take all the parcels that come by parcel post as part of his day's work, and he is frequently obliged to use a two-horse rig where formerly a one-horse light rig sufficed. Parcel post has thus put him to extra expense and deprived him of the little revenue :he formerly received for carrying parcels. I think I am right in saying that after parcel post was established the railway companies represented that they should receive remuneration for the extra work that parcel post threw upon them, and I think their claims were satisfied to a certain extent, and quite properly so. Now if the railways can Teceive extra remuneration, /surely the rural mail carriers are entitled to extea pay. I have taken this matter up with two or three Postmaster Generals, and in every case they have agreed that the matter was worthy of serious consideration. But it is not -an easy matter to adjust. They could hardly be paid on a mileage basis, but there ought to be some way of dealing fairly with these men, and at the present time I do feel that they are not being treated fairly in view of the extra work they have to do. I have been told in one or two cases to instruct the parties who claimed that they should receive more money, to keep an account of the number of parcels they carried -and of the number of trips on which they had to use .an extra rig for earring the mail, and that each case would be dealt with on its merits. If the department is prepared to do that, I shall be in a position to tell the couriers of my county to keep an account of the extra rig for carrying the mail, and that each numerated accordingly. Where a country postmaster has given up his office for one reason or another, I am beginning to find a good deal of difficulty in getting any one to take his place. They say there is nothing in it, that they are tied down to certain hours, that there is no such thing as a holiday for them, and that the remuneration is very small
I am sure the people of the rural districts appreciate very much what the Government has done in the way of extending postal facilities, and anything that can be done along that line will be borne out by the best judgment of everybody regardless of party. When the Post Office Estimates have been before the House, some members have spoken of the cost of this department.
I want to state again that if there is any department of the Government which is justified and which will be justified by the people of this country in having a deficit it is the Post Office Department. Its revenue is derived entirely from the people, and in

my judgment it should not have any surplus, and it certainly should not have a surplus so long as. any member of this House can point to places where the people are net being properly served with postal facilities, or where they could be better served than at present. As to this department we should not be very censorious about expenditure. The public chest is pretty well protected in providing rural routes and rural mail service. Competition is so keen in many cases that the men must be performing the service at a loss. In any event, the country is not being robbed in regard to the amount paid for mail service.
We should take into consideration the fact that cities, towns, and centres of population call upon the Government of Canada for the expenditure of money in many ways, such as the improvement of harbours, public works, and so on. These are of course a benefit to the country, but they are especially beneficial to the particular town or city which obtains the grant. The strictly rural sections do not get such grants, and about the only way the Government can really be ' cf service to the people in the country districts is by giving them the very best possible postal facilities. I maintain that in so doing, even if the Post Office Department should show a deficit, this Government or any Government is justified in having that deficit, if they can show that it has been produced by giving the people proper postal facilities-a daily mail service, so far as it is possible to give a daily mail service.
Once more I want to ask the acting Postmaster General (Mr. Doherty) to give his serious consideration to the question of an increase in pay to the men on the rural mutes, because of the increased work those men have to do, which in many cases obliges them to place an extra horse or an extra vehicle upon the route, involving, particularly during the last year, a very great increase in their expenditure.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Full View