May 14, 1954

SC

George William McLeod

Social Credit

Mr. McLeod:

Mr. Chairman, I have no files covering lengthy correspondence which I need to go through for the benefit of the Postmaster General, and after listening to the speech of the hon. member for Burnaby I have come to the conclusion that my own remarks, in so far as the post office is concerned, and the complaints I have to bring to the minister's attention, are of a minor nature.

However, there are a couple of points I wish to bring to the minister's attention. In the recent news item I noticed that the C.P.R. branch line from Sicamous to Kelowna through the Okanagan valley in British Columbia will discontinue hauling mail, and that such a service will be taken over by the trucks. I can understand that such a course would prove to be economical as it would eliminate delivering from the train to the post office at these small places. However, I would like to have an assurance from the minister that in making this change the service we will be receiving will be at least equally as good and perhaps an improvement on the service we obtained in the past.

I cannot pass up this opportunity of bringing to the attention of the minister, as I

have done on previous occasions, the question of the Vernon post office. The lack of postal facilities in Vernon has been recognized by the department for some years. I have had proof of this in the interviews I have had with the deputy postmaster general and officials of the department. I know the genial Postmaster General will tell me that his genial colleague, the Minister of Public Works, will not proceed with the erection of a public building there. But, Mr. Chairman, I must remind the Postmaster General that his department must take the blame for this situation. Four years ago the Vernon post office was declared inadequate by the postal authorities. Since then both the urban and rural population have increased rapidly, the facilities have not yet been improved, and the larger volume of mail is adding daily to the congestion. Therefore, I would suggest it is imperative that the problem which has existed there for years should be corrected. It is to the Postmaster General that we look for help. It can be argued of course that it is the Department of Public Works that must provide these buildings; but nevertheless, in considering the problem of an adequate mail service, it is not likely that the people of any district take that into consideration. They are looking to the Postmaster General for results.

When the Postmaster General replies to the questions that have been raised in the committee I would like him to refer fully to the two problems I have raised.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

After the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North this afternoon I am afraid that any other contribution to this discussion would be anti-climax. In his remarks, however, he indicated that there is a close relationship between the Post Office Department and the public, and perhaps between some groups of the public more than others. Down through the years the people of Canada, as well as the people of other countries, have come to associate very intimately the activities of the Post Office Department with the activities of the government. This being so, I feel that any changes in post office activities will affect quite directly the attitude of the public toward the government. Some developments in our Canadian Post Office Department are rather significant in this regard, and I should like to draw the minister's attention to them this afternoon.

It seems to me that in recent months the Post Office Department has been pleading poverty. I do not know why this should be so. It might be that because of its close contact with the public there is a desire to convey the impression that the government

Supply-Post Office

is beginning to pull in its belt and that economy is the order of the day. From a perusal of the blue book of estimates, of course, we know that is not so. But in the Post Office Department there definitely seems to be an attempt to convey this impression to the public. I have mentioned this fact before. The annual revenue for the fiscal year 1925 in the local post office in the city of Brandon was $110,600.95, and the staff employed numbered 44. In the year 1952 the revenue had increased to a figure of $217,122.15 and the number of employees had dropped to 41. That seems to be very creditable progress so far as economy is concerned. However, if you pursue the problem a little further you find that such economy is effected by a sacrifice in service, particularly in the new suburban areas of the city of Brandon.

I should like to suggest this afternoon, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps the saving effected is not in the best interests of the reputation of the Post Office Department so far as efficiency is concerned. Also on this general theme of the desire to plead poverty or financial hardship on the part of the Post Office Department in recent months, we need only refer to the rate increase in April last. There seems to be some contradiction between these two facts, curtailment of expenditure in certain areas on the one hand and the increased revenue that will be realized from the increase in postage rates on the other. Somewhere along the line this is going to result in a decrease in the volume of mail, which of course will work against the buoyancy of post office revenues. These matters, however, are incidental to the main point that I wish to bring forward this afternoon.

Throughout the prairie provinces in recent years there has been a tendency toward a decrease in the number of rural routes. I look into the annual report, however, and I notice that as between the fiscal year ended March 31, 1952, and the fiscal year ended March 31, 1953, there has been a 37 per cent increase in the number of rural routes serving the Canadian people. In the west, as I have indicated, and from personal knowledge of my own constituency, on the other hand, there has been a continuing process of discontinuation of rural routes that have been in existence for a good many years in this country. The last episode in my own constituency was the cancellation of three rural routes operating out of the town of Reston. The official explanation of this state of affairs emphasizes loss of patronage with the advent of the automobile age and further emphasizes the prevailing undesirable road

474G

Supply-Post Office

conditions. In particular, in regard to the road conditions, the official explanation states that the roads are impassable in the wintertime. That is true. We must admit there are a good many roads in Manitoba that are impassable. That is not a new fact. That is a problem we have contended with from time immemorial in that part of the country. I imagine the real explanation lies in the first observation, namely, loss of patronage as the town post office becomes more accessible with the increase in the use of automobiles. That is quite true, but it places the patrons who have no automobile in rather an unfortunate position.

I do not know what the final solution to this difficulty is. There are special conditions in the west that have to be met in regard to the provision of any public service. We have the great distances, with very sparse populations, to contend with. Nevertheless, during recent years our population in the rural areas has tended to decrease and this has aggravated the difficulty of continued loss of patronage. However, I can foresee that if we continue to decrease the public service available to the citizens in our rural areas it is only going to make the trend that we refer to as a rural-urban drift all the more noticeable and obvious.

With the continued increase in mechanization of grain farming it is quite possible for one or two individuals to farm a very large area. Unfortunately if this trend that seems to be under way in the prairie provinces-of closing down rural routes-continues, it is only going to add to the process of depopulation. I say, Mr. Chairman, that I do not know what the solution is. Apparently the Post Office Department has taken the easy way out and is simply closing down the routes. With loss of patronage and loss of customers there is not sufficient left to warrant a rural route-so, close the routes. As I look over the rural routes in my constituency it seems that it will not be long until we have no rural route service at all.

I would just like to close by asking the minister the policy in this regard. Is there any clearly defined policy or is it just a formula applied right across the Dominion of Canada without taking into consideration the special circumstances that do exist-the circumstances that I have already outlined that do exist in the prairie west?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

Mr. Chairman, I do not know much about what is going on in other constituencies with respect to the post office but I do know what is going on in Fort William. If the rest of the service is anything like that which we have in Fort

William I would be surprised if anyone con demned the post office. Our post office in Fort William has been splendidly efficient. We have had a postmaster who was always young. He retired this year although he was good for twenty years more.

When the postmaster was changed they did not even consider me or ask me anything about it and I had enough common sense to let the civil service commission make the appointment-and they appointed the deputy. If they had brought in someone from North Winnipeg I suppose they would have heard from me, but they did not do that.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

They did what I thought was fair and just-a young man who had served the post office since he was a boy was appointed to the position.

With respect to the retired postmaster, may I say I never heard of any complaints about his service. Not only was he an outstanding postmaster but he always had a little time to take care of the boys who played hockey.

I have not written a letter this year which did not find its destination. I have never written to the post office officials and received other than a courteous and decent reply. When new streets were opened it was my duty to co-operate with the people on those streets to see that they received service. The retired postmaster was very efficient, very courteous, and he saw that the letters were delivered to those people when there were sidewalks.

The only complaint I have heard about rural routes was away up near Hymers where they could not get mail in the wintertime because the roads were snowbound. I reported this but anybody knows that it is not the business of the Dominion of Canada to keep roads open. That is the duty of the provinces-to keep the roads open so that mail couriers may carry mail on their routes.

We received several increases for men who were carrying rural mail and those were outstandingly needed because the individuals were not making sufficient to carry on.

I have just one thing to say to the Postmaster General and it is this. People operating local post offices in the country are not being paid enough. When I found what some of them were receiving, for having to attend to the mail and keep an up-to-date office, I was surprised that the dominion government was so hard up. I think the minister should take that into consideration. People who are trusted with the queen's mail should receive a proper remuneration.

May I pay my tribute to the officials in the Post Office Department and to the deputy for the treatment I have received in the past year. If everyone else got the same treatment I think you would not have anyone finding fault.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, I listened with a good deal of interest to the story told by the hon. member for Winnipeg North. I do not intend to go into that aspect of the situation but my impression is that as far as British Columbia is concerned the digging for information would not be as fruitful. I have a suspicion that matters of that sort are carried on much more skilfully in British Columbia.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I must express to the Postmaster General my appreciation of his courtesy in dealing with any complaint or suggestion that I have had occasion to take up with him. He always has an investigation made into the particular complaint and I have always received a report as a result of that investigation-a report in detail giving reasons for the department's decision- whether I agreed with it or not. I appreciate that very much because I have been in the habit, formerly, of getting one- or two-sentence letters which practically said "no" in terse language, with little explanation.

I do want to say that, from my experience in the constituency and from my knowledge of smaller post offices, I have come to the conclusion that the basing of salaries of certain postmasters in these small post offices on the sale of stamps is unfair. I think it is an obsolete system and unfair because it is not in all cases a true reflection of the amount of work which the postmaster is required to do. I know of cases where, owing to geography and local circumstances, some people buy their stamps and get their mail at post offices other than in their own district. I do suggest that the system is completely outdated and that there should be a new system established to provide at least for a minimum salary in all cases.

Now, may I say a word or two with regard to rural mail contracts. Before proceeding, Mr. Chairman, I might note that my experience generally speaking has been that the Post Office Department has given remarkably good service under circumstances which, in some cases in my constituency, are very difficult. I am sure the Postmaster General, or if not the Postmaster General, his officials, will realize that some very peculiar circumstances arise in a constituency such as mine, where isolated places have to be served despite poor transportation facilities, poor roads and the difficulties they

Supply-Post Office

create. I want to say a word in commendation of the work of the people in the smaller post offices and in the service generally, and of those who carry rural mail. I am thinking of a particular case where the courier takes mail between Kaslo and Nelson and return every day. Sometimes it is very hazardous travelling along the Kaslo bluffs, under winter conditions. The person who carries that mail has occasionally made trips when no other vehicle would travel the road owing to the risk from snowslides and an icy road surface. I think that service is worth mentioning, but if I could take the time I could give the Postmaster General several illustrations, of service rendered under difficulties.

While I realize that contracts for carrying rural mail, according to law, must be awarded to the lowest tenderer, provided he or she has the equipment and the capacity, I do think that more consideration should be given-and I think there is sufficient latitude in the wording of the act-to such departures from that principle as are, shall I say, justified because of local conditions and circumstances. Sometimes the person who puts in a tender for carrying mail is only a few dollars higher than the lowest bidder but the former person is sometimes carrying on a service that is very necessary to the district. When that person obtains the contract, it makes it much easier to carry on the service in question. I just throw out that suggestion because I think on some occasions the department is fully justified in giving consideration to these local circumstances, and opinions.

I now want to bring to the minister's attention the necessity for the restoration of the mail service between Revelstoke and Nakusp and points on the lower Arrow lakes. There is no service at the present time. The famous steamer Mlnto, which has operated for 53 years, is now tied up at the dock because I understand the whole matter is not yet finalized. I am hoping that the Minister of Transport will soon hear from the minister of public works in British Columbia that the government of British Columbia is willing to join with the federal government in a subsidy to keep this steamship service running. Anyway, in the meantime there is no commercial transportation between Arrowhead and Nakusp, and persons travelling back and forth are obliged to use planes or small launches. Whether or not the Minto service is resumed, I am quite certain that some form of commercial transportation will be established in the near future-there must be-to serve the needs of the district.

Supply-Post Office

I suggest to the minister that when a service is resumed, consideration should be given to the establishment of a mail service between Revelstoke and Nakusp. Revelstoke is on the main line of the C.P.R. All our mail from east and west goes conveniently from Revelstoke to the upper and lower Arrow lakes as far south as Edgewood. Revelstoke is the centre for several provincial government offices that are important so far as the lands and taxation departments are concerned. It simply means the dispatch of a bag or bags from Revelstoke, to Nakusp directly from which place points on the lower lakes could be served, and a bag for Halcyon and St. Leon. I mention this matter again because that service would be a tremendous convenience for that area. At Halcyon we have a sanitarium. At St. Leon we have a summer resort. We also have extensive logging operations along the upper lake. When I tell the minister that in those logging camps last year, between Nakusp and Arrowhead, over a million dollars' worth of forest products were produced, he will realize what a letter mail service means to that area. At the present time if you send a letter to Revelstoke it goes to Nelson which is 100 miles south. Then it goes to Calgary via the Kettle Valley railroad and from Calgary back to Revelstoke on the main line. Then if the letter is posted from Revelstoke, it goes in the reverse direction to Nakusp or other points on the Arrow lakes. It is an extremely slow service and is most inconvenient for the industries and businesses concerned and for the ranchers in the district. I again urge that consideration be given to making provision for a direct mail service between Revelstoke and Nakusp and way points.

I now come to a subject I think I can properly mention under this estimate. For years the post office facilities in Trail have been most inadequate. For years-for ten years at least-there has been a shortage of space. There is poor lighting, there is poor ventilation and the basement is definitely unsanitary. It is unfit for postal employees to work in. I wish the Postmaster General could see that basement when the sewers are full in Trail on account of storm water. The sewers back up into the basement and as a result there is a most offensive odour and at times a filthy situation. In recent years the conditions have been so bad that, to my knowledge, the department has lost a number of employees from the Trail post office, particularly letter carriers. The letter carriers are required to sort their mail in the basement under conditions at times that no person should be asked to work, because of the unsanitary nature of the

[Mr. Herridge.l

basement. Some of these letter carriers have stayed on year after year in the hope that this new proposed federal building would be erected in Trail and that their working conditions would be remedied.

We have been promised the building for five years. Money has been voted by the House of Commons on three occasions. Money was again voted at this session for the commencement of this federal building. The latest information given me by the minister was that, owing to a revision of the plans, he did not think it possible for tenders to be called until late this fall. I want to draw to the minister's particular attention the fact that I have also been informed that there has been considerable delay owing to representations made by the Post Office Department for changes in the design of this building, and that the Post Office Department has taken considerable time in advising the Department of Public Works with respect to changes required in the plans for the new building. I understand there has been a revision of plans owing to the internal requirements of various departments and a revision of plans because of a certain type of entrance that was necessary for the mail bus to conveniently pick up and deliver mail. I am told that a considerable part of this delay has been occasioned by the time it has taken the minister's department to accurately inform the Department of Public Works of its needs and requirements. In fairness to the public of the district-and it is a great wealth producing district, Mr. Chairman-and in fairness to the employees, I urge the minister to do everything he can to press for an early commencement of the construction of the proposed federal building in Trail so that his department will be able to render the service that is necessary to the district and so that his employees will work under proper conditions.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
SC

Ambrose A. Holowach

Social Credit

Mr. Holowach:

Mr. Chairman, I just wish to say a word or two on this item. I intend to make my remarks brief and as much to the point as possible. I feel that I will be expressing the point of view of many members in this chamber when I say that we feel fortunate in having our new minister in charge of this vital department. Apart from his affable nature, by the manner in which he has responded to criticisms in the past, he has given evidence that he is willing to bring about whatever improvements are possible in his department. In the matter of patronage and political string-pulling, we trust that his feelings are the same as those of the other members of the House of Commons who do not condone these things. For

these reasons, I am sure my remarks will receive the attention of the minister and that he will give sympathetic consideration to the solution of a problem which has arisen in an important part of Edmonton East. 1 refer to the town of Beverly. The town of Beverly, like other towns in Alberta, is growing by leaps and bounds. Beverly is, in fact, a suburb of Edmonton. It is a most vigorous and ever-expanding residential as well as business area. At the present time the population of Beverly is over 4,000. The population there has tripled within the last three years. I may say that at the present time negotiations are being carried on with the city of Edmonton looking to the inauguration of water service, and other public services for that town. I should also like to point out to the minister that Beverly, lying on the borders of Edmonton, is inhabited by a great many industrial workers employed in the chemical plants and refineries around the city of Edmonton. At the same time an important commercial road passes through Beverly, from the heart of Edmonton, to this highly industrialized area.

In view of the tremendous expansion of the area, the people of Beverly have felt for some considerable time that they are justified in asking for improvements in the postal buildings as well as in the service given to them. The present buildings are very small and cramped, and while they perhaps served the needs of the community well in the past, the present size of the town certainly justifies better buildings as well as additional delivery service. Of course I am not reflecting in any way on the service that is being given now. Under the circumstances, the public servants there have done an excellent job, but I would appreciate if the minister would seriously investigate the possibility of inaugurating a postal delivery service for that area at the earliest possible date.

(Translation):

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
IND

Paul-Edmond Gagnon

Independent

Mr. Gagnon:

Mr. Chairman, last year parliament approved a $250,000 appropriation for construction of a public building in Chicoutimi. A few days ago, when I asked the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) where this project stood and why there was no mention of that amount in this year's estimates, he answered that the Postmaster General (Mr. Cote) had told him that he would like to make a survey of postal services in that district and that his department was not in a position to proceed with this building before this survey was ended.

Supply-Post Office

I would therefore like the Postmaster General to tell me what point has been reached in this survey and whether he will soon make a report to his colleague, the Minister of Public Works.

The minister knows full well that for the past twenty years and more the people of Chicoutimi, through civil authorities and chambers of commerce, have been requesting the erection of a suitable building. Present accommodation is inadequate, considering the growing needs of those people. A few years ago some land was acquired for that purpose. I know that the minister is well acquainted with Chicoutimi and that he also has some good friends there. I would therefore like him to tell me, when he speaks of his department, what his plans are with regard to Chicoutimi.

(Text):

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Noseworihy:

Mr. Chairman, as consolation to the minister, who has been receiving considerable criticism this afternoon, may I say that this session I have in my file fewer criticisms of his department than in any other session since I first came to Ottawa. Many of the difficulties about which we have complained in the past have been ironed out, but there are still a few left that I want to bring to the minister's attention. I want to remind him that I have been asking for a post office for York township ever since I came to Ottawa twelve years ago. I do not want him to forget it. I am still asking for it. The hon. member for Burnaby-Richmond talked about a community with

70.000 people having no post office. For their consolation may I inform them that York township is a community, now seeking incorporation as a city, with a population of over

100.000 and yet it has nothing but a number of sub-post offices located in drug stores, hardware stores and so on throughout the area.

The people there all have to go into the city of Toronto for the services which only a postal station can give. That is not what I want to deal with. I take up that matter by correspondence with the minister from time to time. I want to deal with a few matters pertaining to the labour relations within the post office in Toronto. I cannot deal with the relations in the post office in my riding because we do not have a post office, so I have to content myself with dealing with the grievances of the Toronto postal employees or those from my constituency who work out of the Toronto post office.

There is still considerable dissatisfaction on the part of the night workers over the differential that was established when the

Supply-Post Office

40-hour week was introduced. As the minister knows, before the introduction of the 40-hour week there was a five and a half hour differential between the night and day workers. The day workers worked forty-four hours and the night workers thirty-eight and a half hours a week, making a five and a half hour differential. I understand that the post office has now wiped out the time differential, has required the night and day shifts to work forty hours and has replaced the time differential with a cash differential of $6 a week worked out on the basis of 15 cents an hour.

The postal employees association and the night workers feel that is not a satisfactory differential. As far as I can gather, they would much prefer the time differential to the cash differential, if not five and a half hours, possibly five hours or something less. That is the recommendation of the postal employees association and all the night workers to whom I have spoken.

Then there is the question of holidays for some of the night workers. There are women workers in the Toronto Fleet street post office who work until twelve and one o'clock in the morning six nights a week. However, because they are considered to be part-time workers they are not entitled to any holidays with pay. They tell me that if they are in the good graces of the man in charge they may be able to wangle a holiday occasionally, but otherwise they cannot. There is a feeling there that these women, who are steady workers, who work six nights a week, should be given some concession by way of holidays, even though they are considered part-time workers. If the minister will take cognizance of these two small grievances, that is all I want to put before him now.

At six o'clock the committee took recess.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink

AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at eight o'clock.


PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

I do not intend to take very much time, but I should like to make a few remarks in connection with the first item of the Postmaster General's estimates. I must say that I have some criticism of the postal department, but so far as the minister is concerned I really appreciate the courtesy that he has extended to me on the inquiries I have made. There is one exception to that, and I shall bring that to his attention before I finish my remarks.

I feel the Postmaster General should know that while the increased postal rate was strenuously debated in this house and has

now become law, it is not a popular thing. In my own constituency I have found that the increase has been thrown up to me quite often. The most unfortunate part of it is that this increased cost seems to be the basis for increased demands for service throughout the rural areas and that is going to be the basis of my remarks this evening. There are not a great many areas that do not receive daily mail under the rural carrier system, but there are some. These people feel very strongly that they are being discriminated against when they cannot qualify under the present regulation of three or four boxes to the mile for receiving daily mail. Some of these people receive a great deal of mail, but have to wait three or four days to get it.

It seems that these complaints arise as a result of the carrier being on a holiday one day, and then not delivering the mail the next day, as he does not have to do under the regulations. Some of these people will have a pile of five or six daily newspapers that are all delivered at once. The same remarks apply to stormy or wet weather. I do not believe that a mail carrier should have to go out in stormy weather, but if he does not go that day because of the storm and the roads are plowed out the next day, he should go that day. The people feel that in view of the fact they are paying an increased cost for the service and the cities are getting at least one delivery a day-in some places consideration is being given to two deliveries a day-then the people in the rural areas should get mail delivered once a day if the roads are passable.

There are places that cannot expect daily mail deliveries, but I am referring to places in which there are almost enough settlers to qualify under the regulations now. There was not too much complaint before the increase, but I find I am getting a lot more demands now. This is due to the fact the people feel if they are going to pay increased costs, they should receive service. As I said before when the bill was before the house, the increased postal rate and the lower airmail rate benefits a great many people but not those who are living in rural areas. I realize it might be difficult for departmental officials to understand this because a great many of them are not people who have lived out in the back areas such as that from which I come. These people feel they are contributing to the revenues of this department, and they feel that a five-cent postage rate is too much, to put it bluntly. If they have to pay that rate, then they feel they are entitled to some service, especially when they read in the newspapers that the cities are demanding deliveries twice a day. I feel they

have some reason for complaint, and I do not hesitate to stand up here and plead their case. Before there are two deliveries a day in the cities there should be some change made in the regulations to enable the people in these rural areas who can almost qualify under the four boxes per mile provision to receive daily mail.

I can recall one case in my constituency that has been brought to the attention of the district headquarters inspector, but upon which I have had no report. I asked for a report some time last fall. Perhaps the minister or some of his staff would look up the files and verify the fact that I have never received a reply. No doubt the matter has been investigated because, as I said in opening, the minister has been very courteous with respect to my inquiries. I am going to ask him about that one exception I mentioned. I am referring to the Saint John district. If investigations were made of certain complaints, some changes could be made and daily service established in some places for which it has been requested. Perhaps this could be accomplished through a rearrangement of the routes. I do not feel it is a member's place to go out and conduct that investigation. The departmental officials are the ones who can work that out better than anyone else.

There is one place in particular, and I think the minister or deputy minister knows about it because I have been asking about it for over a year, called Glassville. There are two routes there, one daily and one tri-weekly. They could easily be amalgamated, and it could be worked out so there would be no hardship on anyone, with the exception that one mail carrier may have to be dropped. I do not like to see anyone lose his job, but the consideration of the people comes first. That is a matter that the departmental officials in Ottawa and Saint John know about, and I am asking that further investigations be made.

I do not think I need to say anything more about that. I want to compliment the minister and his department on the way most of the applications of rural carriers for reconsideration have been treated. I have had a few complaints but on the whole I believe they have been treated fairly well. Everyone cannot be satisfied, but on the whole I believe they have been treated well under this system. At the same time I do not feel the amendment that was passed last year should be treated in a manner that will enable old carriers to be left on because of-I hesitate to say this but I am going to say it-political considerations.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

Oh, no!

Supply-Post Office

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
PC

Gage Workman Montgomery

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Montgomery:

You might be surprised to find that there is some in my constituency. I think we should face the fact. I think the elected member is the man who represents the constituency, not the defeated candidate. I am not saying that the Postmaster General is doing this in particular, but I did hear a lot about it this afternoon. I also hear about it in my constituency, whether it is true or not.

Changes must be made from time to time but I should like to see these changes based upon the recommendations of the people along the route. If a man has been doing a good job I think he should be given another chance. If he has not been doing a good job and satisfying the people along the route, then when his contract runs out consideration should be given to calling tenders.

I presume that the Postmaster General will be answering a lot of questions that have been asked and when doing so I wish he would tell me something I have been waiting for since December 17. I am quite sure that he has overlooked this. He wrote me on that date that he was going to bring me up to date on the situation at Plaster Rock. They have been after a post office there. They did own a piece of land but apparently it was not large enough and I believe another piece has been secured. I am sure that this is just an oversight but I have been waiting patiently for a report on this matter. Will the minister please look up to the file as I am sure additional information must have come in since then. I would like him to bring me up to date. If he cannot do it when he is answering questions, it will be all right if he will drop me a letter and give me that information. All sorts of rumours are going around and I hope they are just rumours and not facts.

I was not able to be here when the estimates of the Department of Public Works were dealt with but I want to say that I appreciate the co-operation the Minister of Public Works has given me in regard to the public building, which will contain the post office, in Woodstock. All that is appreciated.

I do not think there is anything else at the moment that I want to go into. I ask the minister again to keep the Plaster Rock situation in mind and bring me up to date on it. I have not bothered him about it because I felt that when he got the information he would give it to me. He must have a lot of information by now. If the rumours are true, he has that information; if they are not true I would like to know.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Henry Philip Mang

Liberal

Mr. Mang:

Mr. Chairman, I represent a rural constituency in Saskatchewan in which are located a great many rural post offices.

Supply-Post Office

There has been considerable criticism of one kind and another of certain individual items in connection with the administration of the Post Office Department, but I am one of those who does not judge a whole situation because one small part may not be all that is desired. Some people enjoy picking out one small part and endeavouring to make that represent the entire picture. I would not be happy doing that.

A great deal has been said about laxity in the delivery of mail. When this house closed at six o'clock I went down to the post office and obtained a letter from my sister in the town of Edenwold, Saskatchewan, which is nearly two thousand miles away, on a branch line running northeast from PiCgina. This letter had been written ' last night at a quarter to seven and I am sure it was in the box waiting for me at five o'clock this afternoon.

May I say that this is not the first time f have been subjected to such maltreatment by the Post Office Department. I get it quite regularly. If I only had the ability to express myself dramatically which is possessed by the hon. member for Winnipeg North I would attempt to dramatize this alacrity on the part of the Post Office Department. However, as I am lacking in those dramatic qualities which are found in such profusion on the other side I must forgo that pleasure.

The postmasters and postmistresses are the forgotten people in many cases. These people render a great service and I often think that the payment they receive in return is not at all commensurate. I mention this in order to emphasize a point which was touched upon this afternoon. The postmaster or postmistress in a small village, say of 185 or 200 people, has a strong personal relationship with the community. No matter what hours are prescribed by the Post Office Department as to the post office opening at such and such an hour or closing at such and such an hour, these postmasters and postmistresses find quite often that those hours do not mean a thing. Very often they are called at ten o'clock or eleven o'clock at night and if a person has come in eight or ten miles the postmaster or postmistress will oblige and let him have his mail. They are on call nearly all the time. This is particularly true where the post office is located in a dwelling, as is quite often the case.

When the post office is located in a dwelling people come and go all the time and there is a constant stream of visitors throughout the whole week. They have not the same privacy they otherwise would have if the post office was in a store or somewhere else.

The situation I have described is true in connection with many of the smaller post offices.

Coming back to the question of remuneration: The basis of remuneration is the revenue of the post office. The revenue decides the classification, and the postmaster or postmistress is paid according to that classification. That does not take into account the huge volume of handlings that are taken care of in that post office. In a little village, such as my own village of Edenwold, I have known catalogues to the number of eight or ten bags to come in at one time. I have given this example before. It takes a considerable amount of work-not that they come in every day-to handle that great volume of mail.

I would suggest that the Post Office Department, if it has not already done so, give some consideration to the volume of actual pieces of mail handled in an office. The revenue that comes in is not always a true criterion upon which to base the activity that takes place in an office. At Christmastime, at Eastertime and at valentine time and so on, on these special occasions, there are literally thousands of pieces of mail handled. With the business upswing that we have had in the west, a great deal of business mail has also had to be taken care of. I would suggest that in some way the Post Office Department find out just what the volume of business is in these post offices, apart from the actual sale of stamps and so forth, because it is considerable at the present time, and then probably pay a bonus in places where the volume is greatest.

As for patronage, with respect to almost every problem that you can think of you can find something in the Good Book, which was given to us for guidance, to take care of it. It is so with the matter of patronage. I have in mind the text:

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.

Since I come from Saskatchewan I know full well that that is a very significant text to quote to my hon. friends opposite, and I know that they have no post office to use in a patronage way. I am not convinced that it is so used by the Post Office Department, in spite of all the things that have been said.

There is no government in any part of the world so pure that it is not without its human element, its human influences and its party feeling. I think that text should be borne in mind when those voluminous documents are read which tend to show that

there is patronage and that there are patronage difficulties. As I said, it is true that in Saskatchewan we have learned what patronage can be.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Caslleden:

The hon. member is talking about the old Gardiner machine, is he?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Henry Philip Mang

Liberal

Mr. Mang:

If so, you have learned the lesson very well; you have doubled and trebled it.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CCF
LIB
CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Casileden:

We lived under it for years, that is why we changed it.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Henry Philip Mang

Liberal

Mr. Mang:

I would repeat that as far as the post office is concerned, it is a department that reaches into every home; the five-year-old youngster will be mailing a card at Christmastime; the eighty-year-old gentleman will be sending a letter once or twice a year.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Permalink

May 14, 1954