March 21, 1919

UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

I am not changing the policy *that has been in existence for some time, and I would not feel justified in changing this law at present. Possibly, before the session ends, there could be a change made

that would apply to the whole system. In the meantime I think matters should continue as they are.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Guysborough):

There is a definition of what constitutes an employee of the Intercolonial and Prince Edward Island Railways. Does that include all the employees on those railways?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

It includes all those that are members of, or subscribers to, the Provident Fund-only those that would receive any benefits under that Fund, and they must subscribe and pay their contribution to the Fund.

iMr. J. H. SINCLAIR: Then this Act does not apply to any employee who is not a member of the Provident Fund?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

It does not. The hon.

gentleman asked whether the Government intends depositing a certain amount with the Central Compensation Board to meet a portion of the working expenses. What the Government now does or rather the provision which has been made in the other Act, is, to pay whatever amount of compensation, or award, the Board may decide upon with respect to an employee. We felt that it was not necessary to deposit any money with the Compensation Board, and I think the Board is not pressing that demand. It was brought to my attention, however, by some of the different compensation boards that there was no provision in the Act whereby we could pay a portion of the cost of operation of the compensation board, and I felt that it was only fair and just that the Canadian National Railways should pay their proper share of whatever charge would be involved under the operation of the provincial Act in a particular province. Therefore I added this last clause in the amendment, which reads:

Arad im any province where the general administration expenses of maintaining such hoard, officers, or authority or court, are paid by the province, or by oontributionis, from em-ployersv or by both, the Minister of Finance may pay out of any unappropriated money in the consolidated revenue fund of Canada such portion of such expenses as is fair and reasonable and is authorized by the Governor in Council.

That covers the point that the different compensation boards are interested in. The boards. now receive their share as if they were a private corporation, and when an award is made the Department of Finance will pay it out of the consolidated revenue fund.

[Mr J. D. Reid.]

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE:

As regards the employees who are permanently disabled as a result of an accident, I think the proposed law is sound, and I do not agree with my hon. friend from Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) that we should not take into consideration the Provident Fund at all. That fund applies to two cases-an employee who retires on account of old age, and an employee who retires on account of permanent disability. It would not be fair that the same employee should get a life pension under the Provident Fund, and also a life pension under the Compensation Act. With respect to employees who are killed as a result of an accident, I congratulate the minister upon the change he is now making. We told him last year that the position of the dependents of such employees would not be improved as a result of the Act then passed. Of course, the dependents of an employee who was killed in a railway accident could not have any right to the benefits of the Provident Fund at all. The Provident Fund provides a 'pension for a disabled employee, or an aged employee, but nothing for the dependants of an employee who is killed. It was absurd, therefore, to require that such employee should waive his right to something that he was not entitled to. His dependents could not-be granted anything from the Provident Fund, and surely we could not require that the employee should waive his rights. Yet that is what we did last year. As a result of that Act, I had in my practice the cases of two men named Senechal and Freve, who were both killed in a railway accident. The Railway Department refused to pay compensation on account of the clause in last session's Act, which was absurd. I am glad that the resolution as it reads' will have a retroactive effect in the case of the dependents of those men, and that they will now be entitled to pensions.

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L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAIJ:

Is the minister making the provision retroactive?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

Yes.

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L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

Retroactive as far as last year's Act is concerned?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

It is retroactive as regards

last year's Act. The hon. member (Mir. Lapointe brought the point to my attention, and I saw the injustice of it. It is because of the hon. member's action in that regard that I am now making the provision retroactive so that its effect will be as though it had been enacted last year.

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L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GATJVREAU:

We are all satisfied it that is the case-

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE:

There is another feature of the Act of last year to which I desire to call attention. Last year a clause was added stating that Orders in Council would be passed defining the service that should be made on the Crown, that is against which party the writ should be issued, whether against the commissioners of the Canadian National Railways, the Minister of Justice, or the Crown. I wrote to the Department of Justice a few months ago, and they told me that no such Order in Council had been passed. I would like the minister to take the point into consideration before the Bill is passed, so that we may know exactly the method of procedure.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

I will do so.

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UNION

Rupert Wilson Wigmore

Unionist

Mr. WIGMORE:

Is it intended this year to bring in a resolution to increase the superannuation? That amount was fixed about ten years ago at $20 a month. It might have been possible at that time for a man to exist in some way on that amount, but it is really out of the question to-day. I think some provision should be made for an increase of the amount, and I would be glad if the minister would take the matter up in connection with any changes which he may be here contemplating.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

I might say to the hon.

gentleman that the employees themselves contribute a certain amount towards this fund; it is not entirely furnished by the Government. We subscribe a certain amount, I think $100,000 per annum, and the employees themselves make up the balance of the fund. Therefore we could not increase the allowance of those who have already been superannuated, or who may be superannuated in the future, without the consent of those employees who are interested. That is one of my reasons for considering that we should have some new arrangement applicable to the whole Government Railway system. When that is taken up and gone into, some arrangement might be made with regard to the position of old employees. We do not control this fund; it is the employees who decide how much shall be paid to those who are retired. The Government have only one member on that Board, and it could not increase the pensions to employees without taking the matter up with the whole Board.

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UNION

Rupert Wilson Wigmore

Unionist

Mr. WIGMORE:

If a petition were sent to the Government and the Government decided to adopt its suggestions, an Act would have to be passed along these lines, would it not?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

No, the Provident Fund Board regulate the amount of the pensions. All we do is subscribe to that regulation.

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L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

I placed on the Order Paper the other day a question with regard to this very matter. Is it the intention of the minister to press this new board to deal with this question? The employees who come under this fund want an increase of pension; those who contribute to the fund are ready to increase their monthly contribution to the fund provided they are eligible for a higher pension. Is the minister going to do anything for these employees?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

The matter is referred

to the management of the Canadian National Railways in order to obtain a uniform policy throughout. I suggested that an effort be made to have one organization for the whole Canadian Government railway system, which would include the Provident Fund relief organization on the Intercolonial and the Canadian Northern. I do not think it would be well to have one end of the system under a different organization. The only reason there can be for delay in the matter is that which is found in the whole railway situation, and that cannot be taken up and dealt with as the hon. member knows, for some little time.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. COPP:

I think the minister is on the right track in this matter. I have had considerable correspondence from employees of the Canadian Government railways'on the subject. Some days ago I had an interview with the solicitor fop the Department of Railways and I drew his attention to a number of matters brought to my attention by railway employees. I think that the minister has adopted in the resolution some remedy for the grievances that have arisen and that have been placed before the departmental solicitor and himself. But I am not sure that this resolution goes quite far enough. I have before me a letter from a member of the Compensation Board of New Brunswick drawing my attention to a number of matters of interest in connection with this resolution. I assume that the different Compensation Acts passed by the provincial legislatures are not all alike. In our province a certain fund is placed in the hands of the Com-

pensation Board by the contributing employers and when an employee is injured and reports have been submitted in due course by the employer, the employee, and the attending physician, the Compensation Board begin at once . to pay weekly compensation to the injured person. These payments continue until evidence is adduced before the Compensation Board and a decision rendered. As soon as the man is reported as having been restored to health, the whole amount of compensation is paid over directly by the board. Now, under this proposed plan it is necessary that a certain' amount be placed in the hands of the Compensation Board by the railway company or by the Government to enable it to make payments by way of compensation to railway employees along the lines that I have stated. There is a provision in the resolution in regard to that, but it says that the Minister of Finance "may" do so and so. I think it should go further and say that the Finance Minister must see to it that in each province where the Compensation Act provides for the weekly payment of compensation as soon as the report is laid before the Board, funds should be provided to enable the Compensation Board to pay that weekly indemnity. Railway employees should be placed in as good a position as employees of any other kind.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. REID:

Under this resolution we have power to do that. The object of the resolution is to make everything work satisfactorily and harmoniously in co-operation with the Compensation Boards in the several provinces. We are taking power to pay them their share of the cost of the operation of the board, and we can easily deposit from time to time small amounts to facilitate the carrying out of the work of the Compensation Board. We have been working very harmoniously with the board ; of course, we had to act in accordance with the legislation passed last year. If this resolution is passed and a Bill founded upon it adopted, I feel sure that there will be no trouble or difficulty either with the Board or in connection with any employee that may be injured or killed.

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March 21, 1919