Mr. Gaston Clermont (Gatineau):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on the amendment to the motion of the hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gillies). According to that motion, and I quote:
-the government should consider the advisability of introducing legislation to limit the total compensation payable to-
Mr. Speaker, suggestion is made here, not that the motion be referred to a committee, but that it be discussed by the House. First of all, I should like to say that the motion of the hon. member is intended primarily to restrict, generally, the expenditures of the government by offering civil servants reasonable, good and equitable salaries. That is an objective to which no hon. member in this House could possibly object, and towards which this government has constantly strived, and continues to do so. I believe one can say, in all fairness, that the various succeeding governments of this country have always endeavoured to achieve that objective, regardless of their respective accomplishments.
The motion raises a problem since it endeavours to compare and conciliate two quite different facts, that is the compensa-
December 18, 1978
tion of parliamentarians and employees of a vast multidisciplinarian organization which assumes responsibilities of direction and management in specialized disciplines, those responsibilities being sometimes similar to those of employees in the private sector. With your leave, sir, I would say that the comparison made by the hon. member is not valid. The needs of both groups, the reasons underlying the definition of their compensation and the points of comparison are quite different. I wonder if the hon. member, when he refers to the elected representative who receives the highest salary and allowances under the Senate and House of Commons Act, means the Prime Minister. I know that such reference was made by the hon. member for Don Valley, but in doing so he made that comparison more difficult.
Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to remind the hon. member of the unique character of the basic problems which their compensation system was suppose to solve. I will refer hon. members to the report of the Advisory Committee on Parliamentary Salaries and Expenses prepared in the early seventies under the chairmanship of Mr. T. N. Beaupre. Generally speaking, the advisory committee refers to the discussions that took place in this House a few years ago and more particularly to the comments made in 1963 by the then prime minister, the Right Hon. Lester B. Pearson. The report contains the list of specific problems enumerated by the prime minister to justify the adoption of special provisions pertaining to members of the House. That list mentioned, and I quote:
The maintenance of two residences, one in the riding and one in Ottawa;
With a few exceptions, Mr. Speaker.
Financial sacrifices especially for new members;
Disruption of family life;
Difficulties in educating children;
Difficulty in attracting young candidates because of the loss of income in accepting a political life;
If the financial barrier were allowed to continue as a deterrent to attracting candidates to public life, parliament would lose its representative character as only the financially independent could afford to be members.
In general, Mr. Speaker, it is my opinion that these conditions, although they must necessarily be taken into account in order to establish the salaries of members, do not concern the compensation payable to public servants. The nature and conditions of work differ greatly in both cases and it would not be reasonable to ask for exact comparability between the two systems of remuneration.
I would like to quote again from the Beaupre report and draw the attention of the House to some interesting paragraphs. First:
The establishment of appropriate levels for -parliamentary salaries must be based largely on subjective judgment. The position of the federal parliamentarian is unique and therefore, it cannot be easily compared to apparently similar positions in other political jurisdictions, either in Canada or elsewhere, nor to other occupations in Canada. Virtually none of the guidelines normally used to determine rates of remuneration in other sectors of the economy is applicable.
Furthermore, the committee does not "accept the proposal that parliamentary salaries should be related to the salaries
that the government establishes for the executive category in the public service", even though it briefly dealt with the relative salary of a deputy minister accountable to the ministers.
I am prepared to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the opposite is equally true. Public servants' salaries should not be compared arbitrarily and systematically to the salaries of members of parliament. However, you can rest assured, Mr. Speaker, that to raise peremptory, arbitrary and systematic barriers, as proposed in the motion, will result without doubt in a direct and relevant comparison between the duties and responsibilities of the various groups concerned.
Since government activities represent a practical exercise rather than a mere exchange of intellectual ideas, I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether the hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gilles) has considered all the real problems that the passage of his motion v/ould entail. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, there are obviously and quite legitimately some differences in the nature of the activities, working conditions and underlying factors behind the salary rates paid to legislators and public servants. Allow me to look a little more fully into some aspects of civil servants' salaries. To this end, I believe it would be appropriate to take into account two agencies which have allowed successive governments to direct their efforts in order to determine the level of compensation of federal employees. They are the Royal Commission on Government Organization, the so-called Glassco commission, and the Advisory Group on Executive Compensation in the Public Service, most often identified with the name of its current chairman, Mr. Lambert.
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to quote a few extracts from the Glassco report which represent in many respects the basis of the administration and compensation policy within the public service for the past 15 years. In Volume I, dealing with the policy of compensation, the commission states in part: "Levels of compensation comparable with those of other employers keep an enterprise financially competitive in the market for skills and talent. They also tend to minimize the risk of losing present employees to more attractive employment elsewhere. At the same time, the philosophies underlying the internal administration of wages and salaries may have a profound influence, for good or bad, upon the employees morale and productivity, and upon his incentive for growth and development. They may emphasize the relation between employee effort and the objectives of the organization, as well as the performance and reward, or they may conceal a link which should, precisely exist."
Mr. Speaker, the Glassco report also states the following: "Although comparability with wage levels outside the public service has been a stated or implied bench-mark for wage determination in the federal public service ever since 1919, it is not possible to make a single, simple generalization about these relations." As far as I know, the commission does not refer to the comparability of wage levels between parliamen-
December 18, 1978
tarians and civil servants, maybe, Mr. Speaker, because it would have found that the proposal we are considering today is a method that is too general to determine the compensation at more senior levels in the public service.
In the late sixties, the creation of the Advisory Group on Executive Compensation in the Public Service was a concrete attempt by the government to collect judicious advice on the remuneration of senior officials. Hon. members certainly know that the present advice originates from people who are themselves representative of senior levels in the Canadian business sector.
I am sure you are all aware that the present chairman of the group is Mr. Allen T. Lambert, and I should like to take the opportunity to draw the attention of the House to some very pertinent parts of its most recent report. In the second report of the group, we can read the following, and I quote:
-we were struck by the fact that it is necessary to ensure that executive personnel compensation in the public service should remain at a reasonable level of equality with those in the private sector; this level should however be considered reasonable comparatively to wage levels of other categories of public servants. We think more than ever that the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service, and the importance of this efficiency to the government and to the taxpayers could not be stressed enough, continue to depend to a significant extent on the maintenance of reasonably competitive wage levels for senior public servants.
In the fifth report, the group continues in the same direction, and I quote:
It was impossible for the advisory group to arrive at precise conclusions with respect to the equivalence principles and limitations that should exist between the public and private sectors. We do not believe that specific mathematical formulas could be set. However, the studies undertaken were useful in our considerations on the appropriate rates, and we will continue to take them into account when time comes to formulate recommendations that are made from time to time.
The reports the government got based on the advice of experts in these matters clearly show that the salaries paid to senior officials must compare with those paid to their counterparts in the private sector and must in so far as it is possible remain competitive with the latter. I find it difficult to understand how the hon. member can bring himself to believe that senior officials are going to protect effectively the interests of the public if they receive salaries that differ a lot from those paid in the private sector. So that will not happen, a comparison has to be made between the levels of pay in the public service and the private sector.
In concluding, Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate that I cannot support this proposal not only because it goes against the policies set by successive governments but also particularly because the remuneration policies of those governments which are intended to achieve over-all comparability with the other sectors of the Canadian economy are still adjusted to needs, and I find it impossible to reject them for the proposal of the hon. member for Don Valley (Mr. Gillies). Mr. Speaker, we must continue, and I am sure we will, to recruit and keep competent senior officials not only because their work is a challenge and important but also because the pay they get squares with the work they do and compares by and large with what is being offered elsewhere.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic: GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES