June 24, 1954

LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

I am glad the hon. member has brought this matter to my attention. He may rest assured that all the points he has raised,

as set out in the Woods-Gordon report, have been considered, and are continually under consideration by the department.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Michener:

When parliament meets again we will look forward to some action having been taken.

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?

Charles Delmar Coyle

Mr. Cole:

If the hon. member wishes, I could give an explanation right now, although I would not want to lengthen debate unnecessarily. It can be pointed out however that the Woods-Gordon report indicated that the cost of operation of the savings bank has been estimated by the cost ascertainment division of the department to amount to $377,000 annually. It has been repeated several times and quoted as the amount which would be saved if the bank were discontinued. Such is not the case.

The $377,000 mentioned covers not only the employees actually engaged full time on savings bank work at headquarters of the department but also employees in post offices, who spend a small portion of their time on savings bank work. It also covers a proportion of the salaries of administrative officers at headquarters and at various district offices and post offices in the field.

If the bank were discontinued it would not be possible to make a saving of $377,000. It would not be possible to make an immediate saving of the total expenditures at headquarters.

It should also be taken into consideration that the money now on deposit is obtained at a cost of 2 per cent for interest, plus less than 1 per cent for all administration costs. This should be compared with the higher administration costs and possibly higher rates for funds borrowed by the government from other sources.

The savings bank is utilized a great deal by a certain sector of the Canadian public who have always been accustomed to a government savings bank. Furthermore, at points where we have military camps the savings bank is unquestionably a desirable and well utilized service.

This is why at the present time we have decided not to discontinue the savings banks. The hon. member has brought up the question of "closed" accounts, and we are actually investigating each case. We are constantly considering the whole question so that, if it is necessary to make a change, we shall have all the information.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Michener:

I am not advocating the discontinuance of the post office savings bank because, as I said in opening my remarks,

I believe it performs a necessary service in some communities. But it seems to me that 83276-418

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150.000 inactive accounts out of a total of

278.000 leaves a good deal of room for economy such as the Auditor General has recommended. The service is already being given by the chartered banks.

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Mr. Coie@

The cases to which the hon. member has referred are gradually being investigated.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Michener:

This involves a change in the law for which a pattern has already been set. Those of us who served on the banking and commerce committee were told what the chartered banks do with their accounts after they have become inactive for a period of ten years. It is a matter of bringing the post office savings department under that.

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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

Is there any special

expense incurred by the Post Office Department in looking after these inactive accounts, or any disadvantage in the government having these deposits?

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LIB
CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

I can see no reason wny that money should not lie in a government account as well as in a private-bank account.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Michener:

To keep the record straight, I am not suggesting that it lie in a private-bank account. If an account in a private bank is inactive for ten years it is transferred to the Bank of Canada and becomes a government account. I am suggesting it could be transferred from one government account to another government account where, as an inactive account, it could be handled more cheaply.

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Item agreed to. 343. Transportation-movement of mail by land, air and water, including administration, $48,524,258.


PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

This item covers transportation of mail by land, air and water, and also administration. There is one matter to which I should like to draw the attention of the minister in this connection. It is a matter within my personal experience, which happened during the past few weeks. In May of this year it was necessary for me to send some passports down to Montreal to a friend of mine who was leaving for Europe. I did not have time to send the passports to Wolfville and I arranged to send them to my friend in Montreal and have him pick them up there prior to his sailing for Great Britain.

On Thursday evening, May 27, at ten o'clock, I mailed in the post office here in this building a special delivery registered letter addressed to my friend in Montreal at Notre Dame de Grace. The letter arrived

Supply-Post Office

in Montreal at 1.40 a.m. on Friday, the 28th.

I heard no more about the matter until, on the following Wednesday, my friend phoned me from Montreal. He was not in hysterics, but under a reasonable degree of excitement, in view of the fact that he was sailing that night and there were no passports. I got in touch with the assistant postmaster here who was most co-operative. He got Mr. Dempsey of the investigation branch of the Post Office Department, who was certainly very co-operative and very efficient. To make a long story short, Mr. Chairman, at two o'clock on Wednesday afternoon Mr. Dempsey located this letter lying in the Notre Dame de Grace post office. It had been there from Friday night until Wednesday. I could have walked to Montreal in that time. It was raining, and I would have had to walk rather slowly, but I could have walked to Montreal in a rainstorm, delivered the letter and been back here and had a good night's sleep in that time. As a matter of fact, probably I could have made two journeys. There is something radically wrong with a special delivery system that works in that way. It is true the mail courier called at this home and there was nobody there. I am not in a position to comment on that. The people who were in the home say that there was always someone there.

I wonder just what the regulations are. I understood that if somebody called with a special delivery letter and made some memo it should have been left. I understood that they were required to call at least twice. This envelope has marked on it "one call" and somebody initialed it. I hardly think that is the worst of it. Mr. Dempsey was able to locate this letter shortly before two o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. My friend was sailing that night. Mr. Dempsey told me himself that the postmaster in Notre Dame de Grace said it was impossible to deliver the letter until the next morning. That would be on Thursday. I want to be fair. He said: "If you want to have that done now I will issue special instructions to have that done." Why in the name of common sense would it be necessary to have to get special instructions issued to deliver something which has already been lying around there for five days? I have heard a lot about the forty-hour week, the five-day week and the eight-hour day, but I wonder what hours are in force when at two o'clock in the afternoon a letter which has been missing for five days is discovered and they say: "Well, we are sorry we cannot deliver this until the next morning", despite the fact that I spent about $20 in telephone calls getting in touch with various parties and telling my

friend to sit there in Montreal, and also to the postmaster, inquiring as to why it was not delivered. In the end I telephoned the man to whom this letter was addressed and said: "Don't take any more chances in this thing. We have found the letter." He hired a taxi and drove out to the post office and got the letter and came back with it; otherwise it would not have been delivered yet. I know the Postmaster General is not responsible himself for this situation. I do not expect him to deliver the mail. I know he will understand that this is not uttered in any way against himself; but when you pay money for a special delivery letter, I think you assume, and the public assumes, that you are going to get efficient and speedy service. As a matter of fact, you get a poor quality service. I do think the Postmaster General or the department should warn the people particularly not to pay for special delivery letters, and if they do they are just taking a chance. They will deliver the letter only in certain hours, and it is much more difficult to get it than it would be if it was sent by ordinary post. I would suggest that special delivery be refused by the Post Office Department in any case where there are no couriers who will make special delivery of them. If there is to be no special delivery why call it "special delivery"? You pay 20 cents for a special delivery stamp and I presume the department takes in quite a lot of money out of that. There must be hundreds of thousands of them throughout the country. The public expect a little bit better service than we got in this case. Why a letter should lie around in the post office from Saturday morning until the following Wednesday I cannot understand. I can understand that with the five-day week no one works on Saturday and you would not expect anyone to work on Sunday. Even so, there was still Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The letter was growing moss by the time it was discovered. Had it not been for Mr. Dempsey we would not have found it yet; the passport would have been of no use on this occasion.

I draw it to the attention of the minister. I think it is indicative of a situation which occurs very often, and something which should be investigated by the department.

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

This is a case where I think I should first remind my hon. friend that we deliver twice, and if the person to whom the letter is addressed is not there, then we leave a notice. This is exactly what happened in this case.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

If it happened in this case why put "one call" on the letter?

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LIB
PC
LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

There might be some contradiction, but here is the information I have:

Re: Registered special delivery letter

No. 647, addressed to Dr. Konstanty

Rayski-Kietlicz, 4069 Northcliffe,

Notre Dame de Grace, Montreal.

Was received in Montreal on the 28th May at 3.52 a.m. via flight 240 from Ottawa.

It was given to the special delivery contractor at 8.10 a.m. on the same morning. He called at the above address but received no answer.

That was the first delivery. I continue:

Therefore, he brought it back to the general post office registration branch at 1.30 p.m.

On the 29th May, 5.20 a.m. the letter was sent out to Notre Dame de Grace postal station for delivery by letter carrier. It was taken out by the letter carrier, but still there was no answer to the call-

That was the second delivery. I continue: -so he left a card indicating that it was to be called for at Notre Dame de Grace postal station.

The letter in question was placed in the general delivery, Notre Dame de Grace postal station on the 31st May, where it remained until called for on June 2.

There might be a difference in the appreciation of the facts, I do not know; but these are the facts I have. My hon. friend might have been informed that the letter was delivered only once. We have information based on facts. That does not mean that this or any other system is perfect. Incidentally, my hon. friend called my attention to the fact that the postmaster there refused to allow the letter to be delivered. I do not know about that but I will have inquiries made. However, in the main the rules and regulations have been applied in this case as in other cases. We made two deliveries and on both occasions there was no one there and, as the regulations require, we left a note. We know these facts to be accurate and I believe they are as have been reported to us. I believe that in the circumstances we did what the postal regulations require us to do.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

I can only say, Mr. Chairman, that if the minister did not make a mistake in the information he gave me then there must be something wrong, in view of the fact that he states it left the office for delivery at 5.20 a.m.-

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LIB

Alcide Côté (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Cote:

No, that is not exact. On the 29th of May it was sent from the office at 5.20 for delivery to the postal station and it would then be taken by the letter carrier. But when he called there was no one there and he left a card. It was sent to the postal station and then given to the letter carrier to deliver and he attempted to deliver it but without success.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Well, the envelope I have here has only one call marked on it. I would 83276-418J

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imagine that a proper carrier who had instructions to deliver this letter according to the regulations would make more than one call, but this has only one call marked with some initials after it. As I said, I am not going to debate the facts. The minister has given some of the facts according to his report-

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June 24, 1954