If the hon. member wishes, I could give an explanation right now, although I would not want to lengthen debate unnecessarily. It can be pointed out however that the Woods-Gordon report indicated that the cost of operation of the savings bank has been estimated by the cost ascertainment division of the department to amount to $377,000 annually. It has been repeated several times and quoted as the amount which would be saved if the bank were discontinued. Such is not the case.
The $377,000 mentioned covers not only the employees actually engaged full time on savings bank work at headquarters of the department but also employees in post offices, who spend a small portion of their time on savings bank work. It also covers a proportion of the salaries of administrative officers at headquarters and at various district offices and post offices in the field.
If the bank were discontinued it would not be possible to make a saving of $377,000. It would not be possible to make an immediate saving of the total expenditures at headquarters.
It should also be taken into consideration that the money now on deposit is obtained at a cost of 2 per cent for interest, plus less than 1 per cent for all administration costs. This should be compared with the higher administration costs and possibly higher rates for funds borrowed by the government from other sources.
The savings bank is utilized a great deal by a certain sector of the Canadian public who have always been accustomed to a government savings bank. Furthermore, at points where we have military camps the savings bank is unquestionably a desirable and well utilized service.
This is why at the present time we have decided not to discontinue the savings banks. The hon. member has brought up the question of "closed" accounts, and we are actually investigating each case. We are constantly considering the whole question so that, if it is necessary to make a change, we shall have all the information.
Topic: POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT