Mr. Chairman, I should like to bring some matters to the attention of the committee. I should like to preface my few remarks by the general observation that, in the nine years that I have had the honour to be a member of parliament, there has not been another time in my experience when so many complaints have reached me with regard to poor postal delivery service. I am not speaking simply of my own riding. I am speaking of complaints that one receives from various quarters about poor postal service. I have made it a point, I think in almost every case, to put these complaints before the minister. The minister is always courteous but the results are not particularly gratifying. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, that the public of Canada feel, with justification,
that when it was called upon, beginning April 1, to pay substantially increased postal rates, it was and is entitled to receive better service than it is now receiving. I do not refer only to the matter of the two deliveries a day in residential districts, although I include that matter. If we are going to have these substantially increased postal rates, we should have that kind of service. However, I am referring to other matters of wider effect as well.
The minister is aware of the fact that in the city of Toronto particularly, with the new metropolitan area established by law, there has been a good deal of confusion with regard to what is the local urban area within which the four cent postage rate applies. A great many people are still under the impression that with the enlargement by law of the metropolitan area, it is at least archaic that the postal service should set tight limits on the area within which the four cent local delivery rate applies. To a great many people in that area it has been annoying to find not only that their letters are required to bear on their covers the penalty of inadequate postage but that, under the new regulations, those letters are now returned to them. For instance, if someone in the metropolitan area puts a four cent stamp on a letter that happens to be going, we will say, to Willowdale or to some place within what is the Willowdale area but is nevertheless within the Toronto area according to general understanding, the letter is returned to him for increased postage plus penalty, and valuable time is wasted by that return. I would urge on the department that there should be a rationalization of the local delivery system with regard to deliveries within a metropolitan area like that existing in the Toronto district.
I do not intend to delay the committee, Mr. Chairman, by referring in detail to all of the complaints that have reached me with regard to inexcusably delayed deliveries. However, I wish to mention some of these complaints because I think they illustrate, as clearly as anything that one can place before the committee, precisely what their nature is. For instance, I have before me a cover addressed to a lady living on the street on which I live here in Ottawa. It is a perfectly proper address. This letter was mailed from Sudbury. It bears the stamp "Sudbury, December 16, 1953, 10.30 p.m." It reached Ottawa. It is properly addressed in a perfectly legible hand. I know the house well. Nevertheless this letter, on reaching the Ottawa post office, was returned marked "not in directory". Yet it is a residence in this city that anyone can see, and the envelope 83276-300J
is very clearly addressed. The letter was returned to Sudbury and finally reached the recipient in Ottawa away on in January after a loss, as a result of poor handling and inefficiency in the department, of something like three weeks. Even taking account of the pressure on the postal services at Christmastime and the fact that temporary help is employed in such cases, I submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that there can be no excuse whatever for inefficiency so glaring as that.
Then I have before me the cover of a letter which was mailed from Victoria, British Columbia, and which took from December 21 to January 11 to reach the addressee. I have another here with a Toronto postmark, December 19, 1953, perfectly clearly
addressed to a proper address in Toronto. This one, if you please, was returned with the notation "not known here", although it was the address of the recipient and she was there. It is quite obvious there was no inquiry made. After being shuttled around in the mail it was eventually redelivered to the original and proper address on January 26, 1954.
It is for service like that that the people of this country are being called upon to pay substantially increased postal rates. It is no wonder they are not only irritated but outraged by these further impositions. Just yesterday I was spoken to by a gentleman who resides in Ottawa and he showed me two covers which suggest a very striking contrast. He received the two of them at the same time, on April 26, in the daily delivery in Ottawa. One came from England and was postmarked from Stoke-on-Trent at 5.30 p.m. on April 23. It was posted on the afternoon of April 23 and was delivered here in Ottawa on the morning of Monday, April 26. That was very good service by the transAtlantic air mail.
But let us see what happens with domestic mail. In the same delivery he received a letter postmarked from Toronto on Thursday, April 22. It took that letter from Thursday, when deposited in the Toronto post office, until Monday morning to be delivered here in Ottawa at an address which is quite accessible and well known. It was placed in the post office twenty-four hours before the letter posted at Stoke-on-Trent in England, and they arrived at the same time. Poor postal service between Toronto and Ottawa is not new. It has been referred to in the discussion on the estimates of the Post Office Department every year for a good many years past. Surely it should be possible to have overnight service between two large cities as closely connected as Toronto and Ottawa with a high volume of first class mail
moving between them. I do not think any hon. member is going to condone service deliveries like this where mail is placed in the post office in Toronto on a Thursday and is not delivered in Ottawa until the following Monday. There was no holiday intervening, except Sunday.
It was not a case of a public holiday at all. It was simply a case of poor service, delays in the post office. At which end the delay occurred one does not know, but certainly a delay did occur somewhere in the post office. If the government is determined to levy these very high postal rates, increased to figures that the public of Canada resents, then surely the least that the Post Office Department can do is to jack up its service.