August 31, 1917

LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I hold no brief for the grain dealer, but I think he is entitled to the same consideration as any other business man. He is entitled to a fair profit on his business transactions, and to the money his property is worth, just the same as anybody else. My contention was that the board of grain supervisors fixed the price below what turned out to be the price of the world's demand, and to that extent we were losers, and the action was not well judged. With reference to the consumers of flour, until my hon. friend takes action to fix the price of flour, based on the price that he fixed for the wheat, he cannot say that the price of flour to the consumer is fixed by the price of wheat. It is fixed by the combine of the millers, not by the price of the wheat.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER:

I do not know about that $3,000,000. The hon. gentleman will have to have some means of knowing the amount of wheat that was sold during August, and I am not in a position to contradict what he says, or to question his statement that $3,000,000 were lost, but I have extreme doubt as to whether any such amount was lost. After considerable agitation by some of us-not all on one side of the House-we got free wheat. Wheat went over to the United States. Whatever that market may be worth, we got it anyway, and the Government saw fit to give us free wheat. After the United States became our ally by going into this war, it was up to this Government to see that the same price was fixed on this side as they were getting on the other side. Further than that, the Government had no right to fix the price of wheat without fixing the price of flour. There is nothing coming to the millers of this country. If there is any class of men in Canada that has done the farmer, and done the people of the country, it is the miller. I do not refer to the small miller, but to the large _ millers of this country. They have been absolutely soulless, in my opinion. If I had anything to do with the Government. I would see that

[Mr. Oliver.1

the millers were brought to time, and I say that when the Government permits wheat to go to the United States free, they should not permit flour to go to that country.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

The discussion which has been going on might be continued indefinitely, but probably there is no time to go into it further. It seems to have now more or less closed itself. It is fortunate that one of our hon. friend's own brethren on 'the other side finally gave the quietus to this argument. I thought the hon. gentleman from Souris (Mr. Schaffner) was a little severe on the Government, now that the war is on, when he said in such bold language, that the Government failed to do its duty. It would have smacked very much of disloyalty if an hon. gentleman on this side of the House were to make such a remark about the good Tory Government guiding the affairs of this country, but there is such a preponderance of truth in what the hon. gentleman from Souris says that we will have to agree with the statement he makes, namely, that the Government failed to do its duty when it left that great loophole. It put a maximum price which this millers' trust had to pay for the wheat, the very most it can be called upon to pay, and it leaves the price the millers could demand for their flour without any limit whatever, and the Government forbids the export of our wheat to the United States to the south of us, and we presume deliberately and designedly, because this Government is supposed to be a gathering of very intelligent and clever statesmen. Therefore, designedly and deliberately, they give to the flour manufacturer the opportunity of selling his flour at the very highest price.

It cannot be argued that they were trying to protect the consumer; if they were trying to protect the consumer they would think of what the consumer would have to pay. But they did not give any consideration to what the consumer would, have to pay; they put a maximum upon what their friends the millers would have to pay. It is a sad commentary upon almost the first step taken by the Government with a view to controlling prices that they should put a maximum upon what the farmer should get for his wheat, but enact no legislation, make no regulation, in respect of what the poor consumer would have to pay. This is so much in line with the chief characteristic of the legislation of this Government-benefits to privileged classes-that I am

forced to the belief that the member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner) is quite justified in the more or less' savage attack that he has just made upon the Government.

' With respect to this item of $75,000 for salaries, rents, "wages and contingencies under the Canada Grain Act, I may point out that while we may be willing to give the last man and the last dollar for this war, I do not think that we can spare $200,000 extra for the Grain Commission unless some good reason is given for our doing so. I do not speak with finality in the matter, because the Government may be " able to give some good reason for bringing down this vote. The reason may have been given in my absence; I have not heard it. To me this increase is a surprising one: Last year the vote was about $600,000, so that the increase, roughly speaking, amounts to 331 per cent.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

*Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I did give a

*brief explanation of this item; my hon. friend was not here. The additional amount of $75,000 is to give the 400 odd employees of this branch of my department a reasonable increase of salary. Every department of Government has given similar increases, which have been voted by the House on the ground that the cost of living has gone up and that such increases are, therefore, justified.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

Does the increase in the expenditure under this item amount to 331 per cent in one year, as I figured it?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The expenditure for 1915-16 was $659,000, and for 1916-17, $874,000. The main vote was $850,000. This amount of $75,000 added to the $850,000 makes a total of $925,000.

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LIB
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Yes. If my hon. friend will go over the list of employees and their salaries, I think he will not come to the conclusion that they are extravagantly paid. The permanent officers are employed upon a fixed salary basis; they come, in at a minimum and receive a yearly increase until a certain maximum is attained. That calls for a certain increase each year, and the increase for this year forms part of this vote. In addition, this year we have granted increases, not very high in any case, for the reasons which I have stated; and for that reasonable increase the remainder of the $75,000 is in most part required.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

I do not offer unfavourable criticism of my hon. friend's administration of the Grain Act. I believe in giving credit where credit is due; I think that the minister has kept the administration of the Grain Act, as I have observed it, fairly free from cheap party politics, especially in respect of the personnel of the staff of the commission.

During this session I introduced a Bill providing that the employees of Government elevators should have the same status as employees in any similar industry. The persons employed, say, by the Ogilvie people in their elevators have the advantages of the privileges and benefit of the Workmen's Compensation Act. Injuries are not infrequent in these different .elevators; they have occurred in Moosejaw and Saskatoon, as my right hon. friend is aware. Simply because the elevators to which I refer are under the control of the Crown, the employee does not receive the benefit of the Workmen's Compensation Act. An employee in His Majesty's elevator, therefore, is in a less desirable position than an employee in an ordinary commercial elevator. That is not a desirable condition of affairs. The purpose of the Bill which I proposed- which, of course, will not be reached again this session-was that the Government should put itself in the same position with regard to claims made upon it under the Workmen's Compensation Act or otherwise as that in which any other employer-such .as the Robin Hood mills, the Ogilvie .Elevator, or the Lake of the Woods Elevator -finds himself under similar circumstances. It is undesirable that His Majesty's employees should be less favourably treated than employees of these other commercial institutions. A year ago or more the Government was paying an accident insurance company for carrying the risk of damages which these men might claim because of injuries reoeived.. I am informed that the Government paid the same premiums as were paid by any of the companies carrying on private enterprises of a similar character. If that he so; if the Government evades the risk-so far as workmen's compensation involves a risk-'then the accident insurance company had a gold mine. Any one who is acquainted with the amount of damages paid by employers to employees, especially in Saskatchewan, knows that a substantially large part of them are paid because of the statutory compulsion involved in the Workmen's Compensation Act. The Ocean Accident & Guarantee Insurance Company was being paid for carrying that risk, the

same as if they were insuring the employees of the Ogilvie elevator or of any other commercial institution. But they were not carrying the risk, because His Majesty was not liable to the Workmen's Compensation Act-a provincial statue. There was an anomaly; the people's money was being paid out for carrying a risk which was not being carried, and of which the employees in the Government elevators were not in any way the beneficiaries. The employees in Government elevators should surely be as well treated as the employees of any ordinary corporation employing men for similar purposes.

In my Bill I asked that employees in Government elevators might have permission to sue in the ordinary courts, the same as was granted by a special amendment to the law in connection with the employees of the Intercolonial. I once acted for a man who had to bring his case to the Exchequer Court at Ottawa. He had to have the claim printed, and, for a poor workman in circumstances like that he was put to great expense and trouble. That is an added handicap and disability under which His Majesty's employees are.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

On the main

estimates, I was prepared to take up questions with reference to everything involved therein, but on these supplementary estimates, I find that I have not my papers which I had at the time the main estimates were going through. It is, of course, impossible for me to carry all these things in mind, and I am not in a position to discuss that question. My impressions of it are something like this, and we do not insure our employees.

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LIB
CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

About two years ago I think they were under the Employers' Liability Insurance and.we did not insure them. We, however, discontinued that, because it is not the policy of the Government in any of the departments to insure their employees. Therefore, whatever may have been the ease two or three years ago, the condition of things now is that we are not paying insurance companies for carrying risks on employees. We have established the Exchequer Court, and the raison d'etre of its establishment was that it should be a court that would be peculiarly fitted to take up all cases of claims against the Government on the part of its employees for damages or for any thing else. It is considered that that is the TMr. Knowles.]

best policy to be pursued by a Government, You have a court which is specially instituted for that purpose and you have the rules of procedure thereof which are stated and uniform and not subject to provincial differences as would be the case if actions were brought under different provincial laws. The Department of Justice, to which I referred the matter, was very strongly of that opinion, and I receded from the position I had taken at first that we should put a general insurance policy over employees in Government elevators the same as is done in the case of employees in ordinary elevators. What is the reason we preferred to keep that policy which certainly has its advantage in the way of clearness and economy?

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

The minister did not speak to' the question as to whether it would not be better to put our employees in at least as good a position as employees of the Ogilvie Elevator company in connection with the Workmen's Compensation Act.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

We have thou-ands of employees throughout the Dominion and they have always been placed upon a uniform basis; the Government have never been accused of dealing harshly with reference to claims for compensation which have arisen.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

The Department of Justice contests the case very keenly when the claimants go to litigation.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

You have to contest the cases pretty keenly, but where you have a deserving case, the Government always recognizes it, as the votes from year to year show.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

Is there still hope that a sample market may be opened at Moose-jaw? Some years ago, when the Canada Grain Act was going through Parliament,

I urged very strongly that a sample market be placed at Moosejaw, and I gave reasons which I thought were good. Moosejaw is the railway centre of the country north and west, and is directly connected by rail with Minneapolis where there is a special opportunity for the sale of wheat through a sample market. Although I am a Moosejaw man, I think, on the merits of the case, that there is more ground for having a sample market at Moosejaw than at any other place. It is so situated that the wheat would "funnel" right through it to Minneapolis.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

My hon. friend very rightly brings forward the claims of

Moosejaw, but there are others in the Northwest who bring forward the claims of other towns with equal strength. Sample markets have been put on at two points: Fort William and Winnipeg. It is not intended to open sample markets at any otheT points in the West this year. As things develop, it is quite probable that other points will from time to time be chosen. Wherever you have a sample market, you have to make certain provisions for .sampling and inspection which involve demands upon labour and interference, to a certain extent, with transport. This year, on account of the scarcity of labour and the inadequacy of transport, we would not be justified in opening up additional sample markets. In establishing the sample market, we have not made either Winnipeg or Fort William an order point to the extent of necessitating an overlay of twenty-four or forty-eight hours. That has not been done, because to do it would have made an interference with transport this year which we did not feel, under the circumstances, it was proper for us to make.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Would the minister kindly make a short statement as to what special authority constitutes a sample market?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

A sample market, as my hon. friend knows, is a market in which buyers and sellers congregate and make their bargains with each other for the purchase of wheat upon the inspection of the sample of the car which is to be sold. In the first place, you must have samples taken west of the point in which the sample market is established.

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August 31, 1917