I am glad to hear the minister speak about erecting cheaper buildings in small towns, because unless a policy of that kind is adopted, we can never hope to get public buildings in towns ranging from 1,500 up to 2,500 of a population. Years ago I commended that policy to the Hon. Mr. Tarte, when he was Minister of Public Works, and he did undertake to. carry that policy into effect. He started with the town of Clinton, with the idea of erecting a building for a post office that-would cost under $10,000. Building was cheaper in those days than it is at the present time. But I was informed, I think by the member of the county at that time, Mr. Holmes, that the chief architect told him that they would not draw plans for a building to cost less than $10,000. Mr. Tarte attempted to get a cheaper building, and I remember that before it was completed the cost went up to $15,000. Now, the minister will require to exercise a great deal of care, otherwise this $12,000 will likely Teach $20,000 before the building is completed. His officers will require to keep a close watch, and if the.y do so, I Mr. BLAIN.
think the cost can be kept down. But there is a danger that the officers of the government will give greater latitude, and that the whole purpose of the minister will fail. His purpose is a good one, I approve of it. It is oniy by erecting cheaper buildings that we can hope to have more of them. A good building to-day can be erected no doubt for $15,000 as a post office; yes, and for less, giving ample ac-, commodation, for any town the size of Elora and Fergus, with all the fittings required. The minister, in answer to the hon. member for East Toronto, stated that in Elora an additional official would be required as a caretaker. I do not think that should be the policy of the minister. The postmaster, I think, ought to be responsible for the care of that building. In erecting a building the minister should provide a residence for the postmaster as well as the post office. Let the postmaster live in the same building and be the caretaker of the building, and thereby save considerable expense. When Mr. Tarte decided to erect the building in Clinton I understood that that was the policy, that he was going to make it a residence for the postmaster as well as a post office. That is a policy the present minister mighu adopt with a areat deal of advantage. The use of the building^ as a residence would be ample compensation for looking after it.
I do not have that information, because the postmaster at present is paid on the revenue basis, by a percentage of the receipts, and if he has an assistant, that assistant would be paid by himself, and not by the department. The only additional officer that will be required here is The caretaker. _ Of course there is a good deal to be said in favour of the policy advocated by the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson), but there is a good deal to be said the other way. If the policy were generally adopted of erecting post offices in such a manner as to provide a residence for the postmaster, it would mean a good deal of additional expense. The postmaster is quite an important man in a town, and he would want a good deal better residence than would be suitable for the caretaker. It would mean having larger rooms, and a greater number. Our experience has not been that providing a residence for a postmaster in a public building has resulted in a saving to the public.
I am not going to enter any strong objection to the passing of this item. But I wish to say that there are many places throughout the country, with a population almost as great as these two, towns, where the post office is in a part of the residence of the postmaster himself, and where the revenue runs from $700 up to $1,000 or over. Now, I do not think it is fair to expend $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 in erecting post offices in comparatively small villages such as these, while there are a great many rural sections where the people have a mail service only twice or three times a week, or perhaps where they have no service at all, and have to go several miles for their mail. I think there is too great a tendency to erect buildings, and expend money in villages and town3, that these places are getting more than their share, and I think more of the pub-lie money should go to improve postal facilities in rural districts.