Thomas John Bentley
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
I wish to bring up a matter to which I think the minister should give serious attention. Last Christmas at Maple Creek a person was engaged to assist in the Christmas rush. The postmistress there was convicted in a Saskatchewan court of paying less than the minimum wage under the laws of Saskatchewan. The matter was finally brought to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the federal government counsel argued that both employer and employee were in the postal service of Canada, under the jurisdiction of parliament, and that therefore the provincial legislation did not apply to them.
I do not intend to quarrel with the actions of the courts; it is their business to discover what the law is and to apply it. I presume the Supreme Court of Canada was correct in its
finding; and the point is that if it was correct something is radically wrong with the administration of any government department that refuses to pay an employee $18.50 a week in this day and age.
The laws of Saskatchewan were made for the benefit of the people of that province by the government duly elected; and if the federal government is not prepared to permit these people to come under the wage laws of that province, then the federal government should see to it that they are paid proper wages, in line with the minimum wages of that or any other province having minimum wage legislation. That amount is certainly not exorbitant.
As I say, I am not trying to blame the postmistress. It was up to her to get the job done, and she was not going to spend any more money than was permissible. But when the court finds that both she and the temporary employees come under the Post Office department-and that is the finding-then the federal department and the administration are responsible for seeing to it that their employees get at least the minimum wage for the work they do.