I should like to draw attention to the wages paid to labourers at the central experimental farm. I brought this matter up last year and asked for an increase, and I want to thank the minister. I do not know whether he was instrumental in bringing it about, but they were granted an increase of two cents an hour.
In my opinion there is discrimination between the treatment of the labourers who work in the fields and the barns at the experimental farm in Ottawa, and the carpenters. The labourers are paid around thirty cents an hour, while the carpenters, plumbers, et cetera, get eighty-five cents an hour. Last year the minister claimed that the rate of wage paid to labourers who worked on the farms and in the buildings corresponded to
the wages paid farm labourers out in the country. I do not think that that is a fair comparison, because most of the labourers are farmers' sons and they have to pay their board and lodging when they come in to the city. I feel that they should get the same wage as the other labourers. I understand that at the experimental farm there are about eleven divisions, and in each division there are fourteen labourers, who are paid around thirty cents an hour, about five or six men who are paid $105 a month, three or four lady clerks; and also there are about twelve other men whose salaries run up to $6,000 a year. I do not question the efficiency of the heads of these departments, nor am I asking for a reduction of their salaries. All I am asking is that we give a little increase to these farmers' sons who are working on the fields out there, and in the buildings during the winter.
Another thing I should like to bring to the attention of the minister is that there should be some form of retirement allowance for labourers who have worked at the farm for fifteen to twenty years. I have in mind one man out there who will be sixty-five years of age next November. He has been working at the farm as a labourer for the past twenty-eight years. He started at sixteen cents an hour, receiving an increase of one cent an hour up to a maximum of nineteen cents, and now he is getting thirty-two cents, or possibly for the past year he has been receiving thirty-eight cents. He will be laid off this November. He is a married man with a family and an invalid wife; how is he going to exist for the next five years until he gets an old age pension? There should be some retirement allowance. I believe that some years ago there was a retirement allowance for men such as he, and it seems too bad that after these labourers have put in long service at the farm there is no allowance for them when they reach the age of sixty-five and have to retire.
I ask the minister to consider these two things: first, a more equitable wage for the labourers at the farm-mind you, they are farmers' sons-second, the provision of some retirement allowance for men who have spent many years at the farm and are forced to retire.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE