September 13, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Charles Avila Wilson



I am glad the Minister of Justice had given credit for length of service. I think I know Mr Lane, and I have no dou'bt what the minister said about tbe length and value of his services is quite correct. I would like to see the same increase granted to such an old employee as the present warden of the St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary. I do not know exactly how many years he has been in the service in that institution, hut I [DOT]would not be surprised if he had been there for thirty or thirty-five years. His salary is only $2,800. I understand he has some living accommodation. If Mr. Lane deserves an increase on account of length of service, this gentleman also deserves an increase.
I am delighted to see that some of the officers in the Department of Justice are getting an increase; I think they well deserve it. If the minister will permit me to refer to a conversation I had with him some time ago, I should like to remind him of the claims of the penitentiary guards for a higher isalary. I see that the officers of the penitentiaries with salaries of $1,000 or less are to get a bonus of $100. That is -a step in the right direction, but it is not much to the penitentiary guards at St. Vincent de Paul, for instance, who receive only $800 a year. An officer of that institution with a salary of $1,200 a year told me the other day that after exercising all possible economy, his living expenses for the month amounted to $8 or $10 more than hie salary. As the law stands, I know these men cannot be granted a statutory increase, but the law should have been amended. As the minister is granting a bonus, however, I would strongly Urge that it be increased from $100 to $200. I think every man employed in our penitentiaries should receive $1,000 at least. I have no political end to serve in making this suggestion; I make it simply because of the high cost of living, and the difficulty that the guards at the penitentiaries have in making both ends meet. They have to be on duty from six in the morning to six at night, and are forbidden, and their wives as well, to engage in any other occupation which would bring them in money. How can a man live on $800 when the necessaries of life are so dear? I had to pay $10 for a ton of coal for my country residence the other day. That may not be much to me, but it is a big item for a poor man, and other household expenses have increased accordingly. It costs the guards more to live at St. Vincent de Paul than in the city of Montreal, because, working from six in the morning till six at night, they cannot get in to market. I am delighted to see these two legal officers at Ottawa getting their increases, but ;it seems to me that it is always the higher-salaried officials who get an increase. It is the poorer paid men who should be looked after. Speaking of old employees, might I refer to the hospital overseer, who is well known to the Minister of Justice. This man, who has a very large family, is not receiving the salary a certified clerk in a drug store in Montreal would get, and he is getting no increase at all. I would urge

the minister to take this case into his consideration.
Taere is another matter. The minister may have found out from his inspectors that there is a great temptation on the part of the guards to engage in some trading amongst the convicts in liquor, tobacco, drugs and things of that sort, because, as f have said, they are forbidden to engage in any occupation outside of their own work, and the salaries they receive are so small. The other day some of the guards came up to me and made certain representations, and I advised them to quit the service. But they said that they had been in the service ten, twenty or thirty years, and must stick to it now, and regulate their mode of living according to their salaries. I remember when I came to this House in 1908 the guards were receiving only $500 a year, but I succeeded in getting that raised to $800. But I am not satisfied with that. I think $1,000 is not a bit too much for any of these employees, if you want to get good, reliable men. I am sure the Minister of Justice knows that he has had to dismiss several guards for trading with the convicts in order to make a little extra to support their families. Now there should be no necessity for that. The most dangerous element of our population is kept at these institutions, and the men to look after them should be above suspicion, and of first-class character. These men are doing work that is just as important to the welfare of the State as the work that is being done by the soldier at the front, and it is a dangerous occupation too. Not very long ago a deputy *warden in the West had his throat,cut by one of the convicts, and there is still fresli in the memory of many of us the mutiny at St. Vincent de Paul, in which Dr. Laviolette proved himself a hero. The lives of the guards are always in danger. I would again urge upon the minister to increase the bonus from $100 to $200, rather than increase the salaries of men who get $25 a day for making an investigation-
1 will not mention any names at the moment.
Administration of Justice, Exchequer Court of Canada-To provide for the publication of the Exchequer Court reports by contract, $2,000.

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