And furnished medical certificates ?
Mail service, $2,344,700.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Would the minister explain with reference to the matter of parcels, what arrangement he has made with railway companies for transmission from one part of Canada to another ?
The railways are paid in some instances per track mile, in other cases per train mile, and there is a different rate according to whether it is a postal car or a baggage car service, and in accordance with the frequency of the service. Where there is an insignificant amount of mail matter there is a reduction in the rates. The rate varies from one cent to eight cents a mile per car mile. I do not remember the smallest rate per lineal mile, but, I think in the case between Ottawa and Smith's Falls we pay about $320 a year per mile of railway. There are cases on the Grand Trunk Railway where we pay $160 a mile.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Could the hon. gentleman say how the revenue derived from parcels of merchandise compares with the amount paid to railway companies or other common carriers for the transmission ?
You mean the gross amount the department derives from the total amount of parcels.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
I mean, is that particular class of business paying, and if not, what is the loss ?
As I said some time ago, weights are now being taken throughout Canada, and I am told by the accountant, will not be completed until the month of June. We are ascertaining the exact weight of parcel post matter being carried, and that will form a basis upon which to make a calculation. We are ascertaining the exact weights of mails of all classes, that is, of letters, newspapers and other things. These data may enable us to form some estimate as to whether we are carrying merchandise parcels at a loss or a profit.
Speaking of the $320 per mile per annum between Ottawa and Smith's Falls-presuming that is the approximate amount-you are paying exactly the same amount as between Ottawa and Vancouver. That kind of matter has increased very rapidly in the last few years, until it is said the post office has come into competition Hon. Mr. MULOCK.
with other carriers or express companies. Is it not fair to assume that in a country like this, so long and narrow, this system will have to be changed ?
AVhat does my hon. friend suggest ?
I was going to say that in a country like Great Britain where the population is dense, whether the distance is short or long, it does not make so much difference. I would like to ask the hon. minister whether that feature has been considered, and if it has been considered, even before the report to which he refers is complete, had he anything in his mind as to how it might be remedied ?
I am quite cognizant of the fact that our distances are vast but I woidd like the hon. gentleman (Mr. Kemp) to give me a suggestion. I have had a great many questions put to me but I would like to put some questions to other people. What would my hon. friend propose ? My mind is in a receptive condition. Has he a policy to propose, because if he has, I shall welcome it. I would be thankful for it.
I quite appreciate the position of the hon. Postmaster General in regard to this question. If I were in his position and had to deal with the finances of the country I might put such questions as he does, but, I never expect to be in that position. I cannot formulate a policy for the hon. gentleman this evening. I do not feel called upon to do it. I have thought of it the same as he has. I think he will have to solve that problem, because I think the problem will have to be solved. I dare say there may be shipped out of certain places in this country daily a carload of parcel post merchandise. If the government is paying too much for the delivery of parcel post merchandise at great distances from the centres from which it is shipped, is it fair that that should continue ? It is a fair thing to deliver letters and postal cards but when you are coming into competition with freight carriers and express companies it seems to me that some readjustment should take place. I would ask the hon. gentleman if he knows whether merchandise is carried in the United States at as low a rate as it is carried here. If it is marked ' sample post ' it is carried at the rate of one cent for four ounces, while if it is merchandise it costs a cent an ounce. A large amount is carried at the rate of a cent for four ounces.
I do not think the post office gets the profitable end of the traffic. I fancy that if merchants can despatch their parcels more cheaply for a short distance by express they will do so and give us the non-paying business. That is one of the questions that is causing
this inquiry to be made. In answer to the question of my hon. friend I would say that the best rate given to the public in the United States is two ounces to be carried for one cent. In Canada we have a lower rate than that, carrying four ounces for one cent. The Bill which I have before parliament purposes to deal with that subject.
I would like to suggest to the hon. Postmaster General that he should instruct his officers at Toronto to weigh during one week all the parcels that come from the two large departmental stores, that of the Simpson Company and that of the T. Eaton Company, and then count up the revenue that he receives for carrying these parcels, because I am informed that there is practically a carload going out daily from these two stores and being distributed all over the country from Halifax to Vancouver.
We are having a more extended investigation than for a week.
Well then, take it for a month ; instruct your officers to weigh the whole output of the goods coming from these stores and w'hich ought to go by express.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
I do not wish to interfere with the hon. Postmaster General's desire to get a revenue out of that class of service, but I wish to say that there are a great many people who live in the Northwest Territories, as the hon. gentleman for Selkirk (Mr. McCreary) knows, as well as in Ontario, long distances from the railway stations, and it is a very great convenience for these people who cannot go to town more than once or twice a year to be able to send for samples and get parcels back by mail. As long as the rate is not too low this traffic should not be interfered with. I know that the hon. member for Selkirk will agree with me when I say that it is a great benefit to the people living in remote parts of the North-west Territories to receive mail matter in that way.
It is a question to consider as to how far this privilege should be curtailed. I have been on the Gilbert Plains and I am familiar with the custom there. The Timothy Eaton catalogue comes once a year and the people order their goods from that catalogue. They tell me they can order goods at from 23 to 50 per cent less than the price at which they could buy them in Dauphin. Consequently, they get the balance of the people in Canada to pay the postage on their goods from Timothy Eaton's store to Gilbert Plains and if they get these goods so much cheaper I do not know that there is any great wrong in that. I think the poor pioneer on the prairies ought to make a little out of the people of Canada in a legitimate way as long as he
can. If the pioneer who is carving out a home for himself on these plains and prairies can get his goods a little cheaper in that way and if the people have to pay for it through the postal system I do not think he should be prevented from doing so. It will work out the other way when he comes to ship his hogs and wheat down to the seaports in the east. In regard to the postal department the hon. Postmaster General seems to have adopted a picayune policy. He is a little bit niggardly. In my opinion, at the present time, the department should not be considered only from a revenue point of view. It should be considered from a public point of view and it should be made easy for people to get their mail. In regard to the eastern provinces very few farmers occupy more than 50 or 100 acres of land and they get their mail along the old and regular lines. In the North-west, where the people have 320 acre farms, they live a mile or two apart and they have great difficulty in getting their mail. One of the greatest drawbacks to immigration in that western country is the want of post offices. I know people in the Swan river district and the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Hughes) knows this to be a fact, who have been there for a year or more and who are from thirty-five to fifty miles distant from a post office. I know a gentleman named Mr. Richard Lyons, who lives thirty-five miles from Swan river. That man came from the north of Ireland, he lived in that district for nearly two years and he told me that he thought he would go back to Ireland because he could not get his mail.