March 30, 1920

CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I think I said to my hon. friend when he put the question before that if he would send me a list I would look into the matter. I have since had that list. I would beg hon. ^members to be a little merciful and patient considering the shower of orders for returns and questions for information that are being received. It is a hard tax on the resources of the departmental staffs, but the arrears are being overtaken as. quickly as possible.

Topic:   INQUIRY FOR RETURNS.
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CLOSING OF DISTRICT PENSION OFFICES.


On the Orders of the Day: Hon. NEWTON W. ROWELL (President of the Privy Council): The hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) inquired on Thursday last as to the accuracy of the rumour that the district Pension Office at Quebec,and at certain other cities had been or were about to be closed, and I promised to secure information on the subject. I am now advised by the Chairman of the Board of Pension Commissioners that the board has decided to close the district Pension m\r\rnvs Office at Quebec and some fourteen other district offices throughout Canada. The statement by the Chairman of the board is as follows: District Offices were originally opened for the purpose of investigating applications for pensions made 'by dependent parents. There was no thought in the beginning of performing any medical work in connection with the District Offices. The medical work was all performed by military Medical Boards. After the armistice the cases of dependent parents for investigations immediately became very few in number but the medical work in connection with de^ mobilization became very heavy. The medical work was, therefore, taken out of the hands of the military Medical Boards and doctors were sent from head office to each of the district offices to make medical re-examinations, etc. At the present time a district office exists mainly to re-examine disability cases from time to time. About eight months ago it was realized that District Offices would eventually have to be closed and in order to make this possible a scheme of travelling Medical Boards was originated to re-examine pensioners in all centres where a number could be brought together at a particular time, that is to say in towns of a population of two thousand or more. This travelling medical board scheme is now in operation in the Eastern Provinces and is ready to be put into operation in the Western Provinces. The result is that pensioners attached to the Charlottetown and Sydney District Offices are being re-examined by travelling Medical Boards from Halifax; those attached to Quebec by travelling Medical Boards from Montreal; those attached to Kingston and North Bay by travelling Medical Boards from Toronto ; those attached to Windsor by travelling (Medical Boards from London and those attached to Port Arthur by travelling Medical Boards from Winnipeg. Travelling Medical Boards will also, in the near future, deal with pensioners attached to Regina, Saskatoon, Victoria, St. John and possibly Hamilton. As soon as these travelling Medical Boards have been in operation for a month or two the necessity for keeping offices open in all the smaller cities will no longer exist. At the present time there are twenty-one District Offices which cost this commission an average of over one hundred thousand dollars a month, that is to say more than two-thirds the total cost of administration. Of course the smaller District Offices cost this commission proportionately less in accordance with their size but the closing of each of these offices will result in a saving of not less than five thousand dollars a year for the smallest District Office, namely Charlottetown, and not less than thirty thousand dollars a year for some of the medium-sized District Offices which it is proposed to close. It is estimated that the closing of offices which can now be dispensed with will mean an annual saving of between $400,000 and $500,000 in the administration of the Pensions Board. , With reference particularly to the Quebec District Office, this office has, from the time it was opened, has been extraordinarily expensive when its size is considered. There are less than one thousand pensioners resident in the Quebec district which takes in the north shore of the St. Lawrence from Three Rivers and the south shore from Levis east. The office has been reorganized on two occasions but is still the most expensive of this commission when its size is considered. For the eleven months just past the expenditure in connection with this office has been about $23,000. By closing the office and doing the re-examinations of pensioners by the travelling Medical Board from Montreal it is thought that at least three-quarters of this expenditure can be saved and the service to the pensioner will be quite as good. The same thing, although perhaps to not as great an extent, can be said with regard to the District Offices which it is proposed to close. That, Mr. Speaker, is the statement of the Chairman of the Board of Pension Commissioners as to the action which the Board has taken and is about to take and the reasons therefor. The Board is convinced that by adopting this course efficient service can be given to the pensioners and at the same time the very large sum mentioned can be, saved annually to the country. Members of the House know that the Board is constituted by statute and that its members are carrying out their duties under that statute.


ICE JAM IN THE ST. LAWRENCE.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Laurier Liberal

Mr. C. G. POWER (Quebec South):

In view of the discussion with regard to the ice jam on the St. Lawrence and the apparent impossibility of navigation about Port-neuf, may I ask the Minister of Marine and Fisheries if he intends to look .into the request of the Quebec Board of Trade with reference to loading with Canadian grain and foodstuffs the four Government boats now lying in Quebec harbour?

Hon, C. C. BALLANTYNE (Minister of Marine): The operation of the Government boats is under the management not of the Department of Marine but of Canadian Government Merchant Marine, Limited. The Government in no way interferes with or exercises authority over the routes followed or the cargoes carried by these boats.

I am sorry that I am not in a position to give the hon. member any information.

Topic:   ICE JAM IN THE ST. LAWRENCE.
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L LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Laurier Liberal

Mr. POWER:

May my question be

directed to the Minister of Railways?

Topic:   ICE JAM IN THE ST. LAWRENCE.
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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Public Works; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. J. D. REID (Minister of Railways):

The same answer will apply.

Topic:   ICE JAM IN THE ST. LAWRENCE.
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HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. A. C. ETHIER (Laval-Two Mountains) :

I understand that Mr. Speaker is

to report to the House a plan of re-classification >of the staff of the House, including the translators, who, I gather from the discussion which took place last week, are under the control of Mr. Speaker and the Debates Committee. May I ask whether you intend, Mr. Speaker, to submit that report some time this week?

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

It was my purpose to

have brought down the plan of organization during the latter portion of last week, hut after a conference with the member for Wright (Mr. Devlin), it was thought better to defer it until Tuesday of this week. So far as I can give an assurance at the moment, it will be brought down to-morrow without fail.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Air. ETHIER:

Is it the intention to refer that plan or that report to a Special Committee of the House or to the Committee of the Whole?

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

On two previous occasions the matter was dealt with through a motion placed upon the Order Paper by the Prime Minister. I do not know that any advantage can be gained by referring the matter to a special committee, but of course that is a question entirely for the House to decide.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Laurier Liberal

Air. ETHIER:

I suggest, if I may be permitted, that a committee be appointed to report upon the matter to the House.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Air. SPEAKER:

That can be dealt with

when the organization scheme is before the House.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.
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OVERFLOWING OF THE RIVER ST.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

David Arthur Lafortune

Laurier Liberal

Air. D. A. LAFORTUNE (Jacques Cartier) (translation):

Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to ask the Government whether they have been infoimed that the floods of the river St. Peter are a cause of serious loss to the inhabitants of that part of the constituency I represent. I have just learned from a large number of my constituents that the river is overflowing at the present time, flooding many a hundred dwellings. Two or three feet of water cover the ground to the great injury and discomfort of the dwellers. 1 understand that the river is under the care, supervision and jurisdiction of the Dominion Government. If that be true, I would suggest to the hon. minister in charge of that department the desirability of losing no time in safeguarding the interests of those constituents, landlords and

tenants. Mr. Speaker, your humble servant would pray for an immediate answer, even if it be in English.

The right hon. C. J. DOHERTY (Minister of Justice): I was surprised to hear the hon. member from Jacques Cartier (Air. Lafortune) state that the river St. Peter is under the jurisdiction of the Dominion Government. I have no knowledge that the supervision of water courses was one of the many attributes of the Government. If l am correctly, informed, what is known as St. Peter's river is rather a brook which at times overflows. I shall inquire whether the waters of that small stream are under the jurisdiction of the Government or not and if it is within our powers to prevent their overflowing. The hon. member may rest assured that I shall inquire immediately into the matter.

Topic:   OVERFLOWING OF THE RIVER ST.
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GOVERNMENT RAILWAY SYSTEAI.

March 30, 1920