March 31, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The other night I asked my hon. friend the Minister of Labour what I thought was a very pertinent question, but the adjournment intervened between the question and the possibility of an answer from him. I had expected that he might give the information when the House convened to-day. The question was; how the minister reconciled an increase in the vote of $23,000 odd when there was a reduction in the staff of thirty. In placing this matter clearly and concisely before the House I am taking advantage of the implied suggestion of the Prime Minister, that bona fide suggestions would be welcomed, and, furthermore, that the House itself must take the responsibility for any action in regard to the Estimates. I call the attention of the House to the fact that the Labour Department estimates for this year are increased by $23,000. This is the minister's statement, in answer to a question of mine, appearing on page 479 of unrevised Hansard:
The other thirty-
Referring to thirty of the forty-two additional employees.
The other thirty have received notice, which so far as I understand will not be revoked, that they are to leave the service on the 31st of this month.
That is to-day. At another point the minister explained that he was incorporating in the regular permanent staff twelve of the forty-two employees. Now, I want the House to get this point. Last year there was contained in the Estimates a sum of $10,000 for clerical and other assistance, and $10,000 for sundries, out of which would be paid these temporary employees. Inasmuch as the minister has been able to reduce his staff by thirty employees, who leave to-day-this being the end of the fiscal year-there is no necessity for the House to provide in the Estimates for those thirty employees for the coming fiscal year. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I beg to move, seconded by Mr. Sheard:
That in view of the statement of the Minister of Labour, as appearing on page 479 of Hansard, that thirty employees of his department would be dismissed on this day, March 31st, 1922, that item 24 on page 9 of the Estimates be reduced to the same amount as last year, namely, $171,640 for salaries, and $35,000 for contingencies.

This will give to the minister the same amount of money that he required for last year, including the contingencies, which we have not reduced at all.
I am not taking a course that has not been followed1 in the past. Last year motions were made to reduce items, and the government of the day took the responsibility of making or not making the reductions, and generally they rejected the motions. It is quite within the authority and power of the Government to reject this motion; but, on the other hand, I do not wish it to shield itself wholly behind the Civil Service Commission. That commission has certain distinct functions to perform, which we all recognize. This House has certain responsibilities, and the Government has certain responsibilities. We are merely asking the Government now to accept this suggestion by which those of us who vote for it are willing at once to aid in the reduction of the Estimates and to take our 'share of the responsibility for what in some quarters may be regarded as the questionable course of reducing this sum, because .sometimes a Government is a little hesitant about taking that responsibility. We offer the Government this opportunity to take advantage of our assistance in the reduction of this item so as to bring it to exactly the same figure as last year in view of the dismissal of thirty employees.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE BILL
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