I want to consider it in that light. Later on we will be dealing with another item in connection with which I was never able to establish to my own satisfaction the difference between deficit and service. I understand that this canal item covers a service, and when we come to item 485 I shall want to know the difference between deficit and service.
This item shows an increase of $383,543, and I note from the details that approximately $229,000 is necessary for increases in rates of pay. That leaves a difference of something over $150,000, and I should like the minister to give us the reason for that increase of over $150,000.
There were annual increases granted to 357 employees amounting to $23,296; other changes in rates and even with a reduction of 15 positions there was a net increase of $13,306; there were replacements for employees granted one week of summer vacation leave after five years in the service which amounted to $15,000; then there was additional labour requirement and increased rates of pay over 1951-52 amounting to $22,267; then there were overtime and increases in relation to the increases in rates of pay authorized during the fiscal year 1951-52, amounting to $10,070; there were also increases in the costs of material and supplies amounting to $37,052; there was an increase in the cost of repairs to buildings, works and equipment amounting to $39,000.
We have here another case where last year's vote was not spent, yet we are being asked to vote more money this year than was voted last year. The minister probably recalls the compliment which I paid his department when the items were first called the other day. I said that this was a well-run department and that it was a good example of the kind of service the government should render.
At the same time it seems to me that we should be given some detailed explanation as to why we have increases of this kind. It is not my intention to 'ask this kind of question on every item throughout the entire estimates, but I think on some of them at any rate we should be treated as a committee that has the right to be satisfied, just as the minister has to satisfy the treasury board, as to the reasons for increases of this kind. I press the point in the light of the fact that the total amount of money voted last year was more than was needed; it was not all spent. Yet we are now being asked to vote a greater sum of money. I wonder if the minister would just imagine that he is before the treasury board and justify this increase.
Mr. Chairman, what must always be kept in mind with reference to these votes is that they are estimates, much the same as the Canadian National Railways estimated budget which is dealt with every year and which never in fact corresponds with the actual expenditures. As a rule the estimate is much higher than the actual expenditure. If I were to make an estimate covering a construction job it might be for $1 million, but by the time the work was done it might cost $1,200,000 because of increases in prices and increased wages. Conversely, there might be savings to the department in connection with some of the items contained in the estimates now before the committee.
There are times when we are short and have to go to treasury board for authorization to take money from one vote and use it under another. That does not happen very often in the department, but from time to time that
procedure must be followed. The best explanation I can give is that this is the best judgment the officers of the department can use when preparing the estimates for the following fiscal year, which as a rule is six to seven months prior to the expenditure taking place. Many things can happen during that time to account for a change in cost or a variation of conditions and the like.
I appreciate the position taken by the minister, but I would point out that although these are only estimates, it is the sum total of these estimates which the Minister of Finance must raise by means of taxation. That means that it is our duty to check these estimates item by item. I wonder if the minister has information available with respect to this item from which he could tell the committee what the experience has been over the past number of years. For example, has this item always been overestimated during the years the minister has been in charge of the department, or have there been years when it was under-estimated? Has it averaged out from year to year or have we have been voting too much money?
As a rule it has averaged out much as I have indicated. For instance, in this particular case the expenditure is within 2 per cent of the estimate. Then my hon. friend speaks of the responsibility of the Minister of Finance and what he does. It is true that the Minister of Finance is very careful to take all the water out of these estimates and to make sure that we do not over-estimate, but when you come to an estimate of this amount and it is within 2 per cent that is pretty close estimation. We like to be as accurate as we can but there are times when we fall short of the goal.