Mr. Chairman, in connection with item 34 now under consideration, I wish to draw the minister's attention to an unfair situation which seems to be materializing in Montreal and which, if the precedent is established, will be most detrimental to all Roman Catholic employees of the department. I want to be fair to the minister and tell him right away that I am convinced he is unaware of the decision taken by the postmaster of Montreal and that, as soon as he is informed of the fact, he will take such steps as become imperative in such a case.
I do not know whether it is by way of a regulation or in accordance with a tradition but I understand that in the past Roman Catholic postal employees in Montreal had always been granted a period not exceeding three quarters of an hour to attend mass on Sundays and feast days of obligation.
I understand too that as this was considered too short, representations were made to postal headquarters in Montreal in order to have this time extended. Following this request, the postmaster is said to have advised the Catholic employees by letter to "Please note that, starting Sunday, March 10, no more time will be given employees to attend mass, and that the working hours will be the same as usual."
I repeat what I just said, Mr. Chairman.
I am convinced that the hon. minister is entirely unaware of this situation and that, as soon as he finds it to be so, he will see that instructions to the contrary be issued.
Every citizen is generally given a paid two hours' leave to enable him to do his duty to the state by voting on election day. In a spiritual matter, it seems to me that there should be particular attention given, and I do not know why it should not be possible with regard to those employees to reinstate at least the three quarters of an hour period which they had been allowed before, inadequate as it was. If this rule is ever applied, Mr. Chairman, I say that it will be the most reprehensible discrimination to which any government employees will as yet have been submitted.
There is no doubt that this was excessively officious,-I would even say shockingly officious
on the part of an employee.
I therefore ask the hon. minister, in the name of those employees who, as from March 10, will be deprived of the necessary time to do their religious duty, to correct this position and, knowing his fair mind, I trust he will hasten to give the necessary instructions to reinstate the time that was being allowed to all those who practise the catholic faith, and, if possible to extend the period by 15 minutes.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: INQUIRY AS TO TABLING OF FURTHER SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR