Édouard-Gabriel Rinfret (Postmaster General)
For the moment, it is only the postmaster.
For the moment, it is only the postmaster.
Where there are two or three employees in a post office, is it intended to take them into the civil service so that they can participate in superannuation benefits?
The department has that in mind for future reference. There are still some postmasters to be taken in, and the others will just have to wait.
Is it the intention to have employees in the post offices come into the civil service?
No decision has been made as yet.
As I understand it, this applies to the revenue post offices, and in that case the only person recognized as an employee is the postmaster, who in turn hires what staff he needs at whatever terms may be convenient at the moment?
The answer to the first part of the question is yes. The answer to the second part is no, because we control the terms and conditions of employment.
Has any consideration been given to allowing mail to be carried free to the different veterans district offices? When these activities were concentrated in Ottawa a veteran could send his papers addressed to Ottawa without having to pay postage, but now that he has to send them to a district office he has to pay postage, and at times it is inconvenient for him to get to a post office to have his letter weighed.
That would not be permissible under the statute; there would have to be a change in the legislation.
Does the Postmaster General not think that to change the regulations would be a move in the right direction?
I will consider it.
There are a number of postmasters in Canada who have been operating on a straight commission basis and who are now being retired at sixty-five years of age. Has any provision been made to grant superannuation to those postmasters?
Since April 1, 1948, superannuation benefits have been available to postmasters in post offices with a revenue of over $3,000.
When a postmaster is retired, is the vacancy advertised in all cases?
In the case of a post office with a revenue of over $3,000, the vacancy would be advertised through the civil service commission. Where an assistant has been in the employ of the department for more than fifteen years, he may be exempted from competing. In all cases notice is given to the Legion to submit any names of veterans they wish.
Is the assistant who has been in the service for more than fifteen years automatically appointed to the position?
No. He may be exempted from competing if it is felt to be in the public interest to have him appointed.
Provided that he is qualified.
That is right.
Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to ask the Postmaster General a number of general questions because he is new to the position and probably it would not be fair, but I should like to call his attention to certain conditions in the Toronto post office.
The revenue and surplus obtained by this department in Toronto is considerable. In
1946 it amounted to nearly $11 million, but then the cost of rural mail delivery was charged against the surplus revenue and in
1947 it dropped to a surplus of $8,773,000, and in 1948 to a surplus of $9,827,000.
In view of the large surplus, would it not be possible to pay something additional to the low-paid employees of the post office? Ten thousand extra employees will be taken on during the Christmas season to help deliver mail, and they should be paid at a proper rate. I can remember when the Minister of Public Works, along with the former postmaster general, Mr. Mulock, accompanied me on a tour of the Toronto terminal "A" post office in order to see the conditions under which the workers were sorting the mail. There is one large room there that is not really fit for human habitation. There is hardly any ventilation.
Employees should not be asked to work under such intolerable conditions.
I should like to compare the postal revenue of Toronto with that of Montreal, the chairman's district. I admit that in Toronto considerable revenue is derived from the two large departmental stores, but, eliminating that factor, the postal receipts for Montreal are about $10,500,000 as compared with $16,500,000 for Toronto. Yet we have no post office in that city. There is a terminal "A" which was built by the old Grand Trunk and then taken over by the Canadian National Railways and used as the main post office.
I should like to direct the attention of the Postmaster General to the difficulty encountered when trying to buy postage stamps. Many people will be travelling this Christmas, and they should be able to buy stamps on the trains, or at least in the larger railway stations. Many soldiers will be going home for Christmas, and they should be able to let their people know that they are coming.
I should like to see some action taken to give the low-paid workers a better deal as to pay and working conditions. An effort should be made to improve their hours of labour and their working conditions. With the amount of second-class mail they have to handle, they all have humps on their backs. I have seen them delivering mail in the various districts of our city. The amount of second-class mail that must be delivered is an intolerable burden on the poor postman who has to go out in weather such as we are having at the present time. There should be some other way of making effective second-class delivery. I hope that the minister, if he gets an opportunity during
the recess, will come to Toronto and investigate the post office situation. He has a good deputy and other competent officials in the department. In fact I know of no department of the public service that has more support of the people than the post office.