William McLean HAMILTON

HAMILTON, The Hon. William McLean, P.C., O.C.

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
Birth Date
February 23, 1919
Deceased Date
June 7, 1989
business executive

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (June 21, 1957 - July 12, 1962)
March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (June 21, 1957 - July 12, 1962)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 327 of 331)

January 15, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

It seems to me that by putting this material on the record it will give the Postmaster General something to report upon. He can cover all these various points at once, and we will not need to bring them up individually.

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January 15, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

I do not want to stand here and say these things about any department of government. But, just as the Postmaster General said yesterday that he was not always going to do the popular thing, but that he had his duty to do, I, too, on this side of the house have my duty to do. And I think hon. members are just a little bit unfair. When what I say begins to gouge and hurt, and when the facts come out, they begin to try to shout me down.

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January 15, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

Turning now to the report-

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January 15, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

Three years too late, and probably gathering dust somewhere on a shelf.

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January 15, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

I thank you, sir, for that. These are notes. I presume I can start over again and have another 40 minutes because of these interruptions.

Now let us turn to an examination of some, not all, of the specific charges made in this report. Here is what the report says regarding planning:

It is apparent that the number of clerical staff presently available for this type of work is completely inadequate to deal with the problems being encountered throughout the department.

That idea is bolstered again in another section of the report. We shall now deal with the section having to do with the present method of operation. It says:

Many of the problems raised by the postmasters . . . are referred to the operations branch at headquarters for decision. This system requires the staff at headquarters to deal with a multitude of individual problems . . . The staff at headquarters operate under continuous pressure and there are many delays in dealing with comparatively minor matters. The staff are so occupied in this routine that they are unable to develop and apply policy decisions which would eliminate many individual requests.

If I may say so, it is necessary that I put this on the record because the report is not available to us. I have had the opportunity of studying it, and this is the only way I can put it on the record so the people of Canada can see what is happening in the Post Office Department. In giving these quotations I am abbreviating somewhat but retaining the nature of the quotation and the words used in the report.

With regard to the operations branch the report says:

The work of the operations branch has over the years increased to the point where the staff at all levels are overloaded with a multitude of routine problems and correspondence. No one has had the time to develop policies which can be applied on an over-all basis.

Is it any wonder, when we see these things unfolding before us, that the Post Office Department finds it necessary to come and ask for an increase in the postage rates? Is it any wonder they should do that with this type of internal organization?

Turning to the buildings which are used by the post office we find the report saying:

It is essential that detailed consideration be given to new construction in order that the most efficient operating methods be incorporated in the design.

Quite properly, the postal superintendent in charge of the buildings division has concentrated on this phase of his activities. All the staff in the division have been so engaged. They have not had time to seek out and introduce operating economies throughout the existing post offices. Our survey has disclosed that there is room for substantial savings through better layout, equipment and control.

The post office needs information; it needs controls. Here is one of the things the report has to say regarding controls:

The branch is operating under a severe handicap as there are no standards established to measure the relative efficiency of a given method of operation. The lack of such standards is particularly

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felt when requests are received for additions to staff or accommodation. The only relative comparison of the volume of work in various post offices is the revenue received by each for the services it renders to the public. It is recognized by the department that this is not an adequate yardstick due to the varying conditions under which post offices operate. The lack of such a standard also makes it difficult to appraise the benefits which might be obtained from improvements in methods and equipment.

We have here another indication why the department is operating largely in the dark, yet it comes to us asking for an increase in rates. We know now, on the basis of the information which is going on the record, that really this department knows not whereof it speaks.

Another section of the report deals with the mechanical engineering division, which is a new department suggested by this report, and I quote:

A mechanical engineering division should make a detailed examination of the equipment and layout presently in use in post offices. This study will disclose great differences in the equipment. In some instances, equipment installed many years ago was continued in use although more efficient equipment is now available. No attempt has been made to standardize on the most efficient equipment.

The report goes on:

There is a need for a reappraisal of the services being provided at various centres across the country. The department should be continually examining the nature of services provided and prepared to make alterations as required to keep pace with changing conditions.

There is very clearly a suggestion there that the department is not doing that; that it is static; that it is not keeping abreast of what is going on in the world.

We now come to another section of the report, regarding a methods and procedures division. The report says:

This division would be responsible for preparing and amending operating manuals. This is presently the responsibility of the services, methods and examinations division. The staff available for this work has proved inadequate and the existing manuals were, in many cases, issued years ago and are now in a large extent obsolete.

The production of up-to-date operating manuals should more than repay the expenditure involved in staff salaries required to prepare them. At the present time there are numerous errors occurring throughout the service and the correction of each one requires the expenditure of time and labour.

We now come to the question of workshops which the department is operating. I never knew that the post office operated workshops. This is what the report says:

At headquarters in Ottawa and a number of the large centres across the country workshops under the supervision of local plant engineers have been established . . .

Then comes an interesting point, because we find that these workshops have been

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greatly enlarged so that they are doing something else. Here is the quotation from the report:

It was noted during our survey that a number of these workshops have extended their activities to the manufacture of equipment such as cupboards, wastepaper containers, binneys, and skids, and to the repair of typewriters and other office equipment.

The Post Office Department is in the office equipment business. The report goes on:

These workshops were not established for this purpose and it is questionable if this type of work is economical.

It is suggested that a detailed study of the actual staff requirements to carry out the essential repair work be made and the staff be reduced to a minimum required to perform these duties.

I should now like to give hon. members an item in the report which vjjll capture the imagination of Canadians across this country more than anything else in it. After all, what I have shown so far is fundamental; terribly important, but it is fundamental; it is the organization and operation of the department. Here are three ideas for this committee which show clearly where the department is not taking advantage of current operating methods and the information available to it in order to save the taxpayers' money. Item 1 has to do with floor space and reads as follows:

Floor space,-a redesign of a letter-sorting rack in the forward letter section of the Toronto post office, and improved layout of these racks would result in a 45 per cent saving in the floor space used for this purpose. The changes would not have any significant effect on the labour cost of the operation as it is presently performed.

Item 2 is as follows:

Equipment design. The use of conveyor belts and changes in equipment would allow two operations to be combined.

I understand that this refers to Toronto. Hon. members understand that I have not the report immediately in front of me. The minister has it. There are minor matters which I have no doubt he will correct me on, but there are no major ones.

I am giving just a few of the quotations from the report, which goes on to say that a change in the equipment used would allow these operations to be combined.

While this plan will require further development there is an indicated annual saving in the forward letter section of the Toronto post office alone of approximately $200,000 per annum.

This is referring only to Toronto, and it states it will require further development; but there is indicated an annual saving in the forward letter section of the Toronto post office alone of approximately $200,000 per annum. Let us make it quite clear that this $200,000 saving is possible after the

necessary equipment and everything else connected with the operation is installed. That would mean the taxpayers of this country would have to pay to the Post Office Department $200,000 a year less. Putting it another way, the expenses of the Post Office Department would be $200,000 a year less.

With regard to the work place lay-out, the report states that a rearrangement of the lay-out equipment used for sorting tables would increase the efficiency of the operation by from 10 to 26 per cent, with resulting reductions in staff.

Let those three examples be impressed in the minds of everyone as an indication of what is happening today in the Post Office Department, and the tremendous savings of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars that it would be possible to make if this department would smarten up and operate in the most efficient and economical way.

The report then goes on to refer to the special delivery service. It is interesting to note that for reasons best known to himself the minister decided this year to raise the other rates of postage but not the special delivery rates. The report states:

The cost Information available to the department discloses that the special delivery service is operated at a considerable loss. In some centres the postal rate for a special delivery letter is less than the contractor is paid to deliver the letter. The user of the special delivery service is interested in a rapid and assured delivery. It is believed that the majority of users would be prepared to pay considerably more for this service if their requirements were met.

The special delivery is used by only a small number of people, but it is not paying its way; yet in the case of another service the rates are increased. At this point I should like to make just a passing reference to another item in the report which I think is tremendously significant. I am surprised that neither the government nor the Postmaster General has seen fit to make some mention of this matter at some point. There is a suggestion in the report that the post office savings bank, once a most vital part of the economy of this country, has now largely outlived its usefulness, that there is little demand for it. The report recommends categorically that this operation of the Post Office Department be abolished, and it points out that a saving of $377,000 could be made in that one particular instance.

I am not committing myself, nor do I intend to get into a debate on the question of the abolition of the post office savings bank, but here is a potential saving of

$377,000 mentioned in this report of which we knew nothing. No one outside the confines of the minister's office, as far as I can find out, knew of this until last night when for reasons which I should like to think were good the minister made the report available to me.

With regard to the transportation and carriage of mail the report says:

Little effort has been made to appraise the whole transportation problem and to develop a rational plan or policy to govern future operations and methods.

The report continues with a discussion of subsidies as an important factor in the operation of the Post Office Department. It states:

The need for a subsidy should, however, become less as an area grows and the volume of normal traffic increases. In the past in negotiating contracts no effort has been made to set out the amount that has been paid as subsidy as opposed to what might be described as the normal cost of operation.

And again:

The subsidy may therefore be perpetuated long after the justification for it has ceased to exist.

Then with regard to the railway mail service division the report states:

At the present time there is no one senior officer at headquarters responsible for the over-all direction of the railway mail service.

There is much more in the report. Then another quotation:

A limited survey of the conditions in Toronto discloses that the planning of this pick-up and delivery service has not been given the consideration which it deserves.

I come now to a reference to how they handle their stamps, which represent money. The report states:

The postage supply section of the postage stamp division is responsible primarily for the receipt, storage and dispatch of postage and unemployment insurance stamps to postal depots and government agencies. The physical facilities presently available for this purpose are inadequate both from the viewpoint of security and material handling. Many improvements in procedure could also be made.

Then follows an important matter which I believe others of my colleagues will take up and comment on later. The report goes on to say:

We have reviewed a report of the civil service commission. A comprehensive analysis was made in 1950 of the method of keeping records and issuing stock. It is suggested that this report be reviewed and the suggestions put into practice.

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