With respect to the question I raised relative to the hours of labour that are put in by some of these mail couriers, if the parliamentary assistant will turn to page 4134 of Hansard of yesterday he will see that I was referring to the holiday season only, not to the full year. This is the time these men require additional help in the sortation of mail.
Mr. Chairman, at this time I should like to make a few remarks about the postal service in Toronto-Rosedale. I think it is important to demonstrate at the outset that the representations have come to me and have been made in a community service and non-partisan spirit. The area concerned is the Yonge-Bay-Bloor district of Toronto, and the representations are those of the businessmen's association of the area.
It so happened that during the Christmas season of 1954 they held one of their regular
luncheon meetings, and I was pleased to be a guest. The subject under discussion at this meeting was "Christmas as applied to every day of the year". The very eminent speaker was Rev. Dr. Cecil Swanson, rector of St. Paul's church, which is within the district. The guests at the head table were diversified and representative of the community. In this atmosphere the men of the community raised their postal problems. I am not asking the Acting Postmaster General to approach their problems as Santa Claus would, but rather in accordance with the spirit of the talk, in which we were asked to apply patience and prudence. The aim is that all concerned may receive satisfaction, which I know can be forthcoming.
The basic problem of the postal service in Rosedale has been one which the businessmen have approached with great patience in the past. For many years, at the intersection of St. Clair and Yonge streets, owing to the depressed conditions of the 1930's and the labour and material shortages of the wartime period, there was a shortage of space and appropriate facilities. However in due time-I must say, without any particular representations from me as the elected member-notably in the year 1949, a great improvement was made. Then during the period of the last parliament a $3 million office building was erected in that district, which provides expanded and improved postal facilities.
I emphasize that this was done by the department in its good judgment on the basis of need, after patience and restraint on the part of the community. Postal service in the immediate vicinity of that part of Yonge street is much better, and I thank the Postmaster General and particularly the deputy postmaster general for what has been done there, because it is indeed much appreciated.
I must also report that in the Yonge-Bay-Bloor area we have postal station F, which is capable of handling perhaps the largest volume of mail in the Toronto region so far as branch stations are concerned.
This is what has been going on in the last number of years. But, Mr. Chairman, this section has now become something quite different from what it was before the war. It is now the uptown crossroads of metropolitan Toronto. It is also the uptown hub of the financial offices in so far as many large corporations are concerned. In addition, as the result of much public pressure it has become a redevelopment area for mid-town apartment dwellers. Here we have a condition of expansion in mid-century, within the twentieth century; and the postal service, like everything else, has had growing pains.
Previous to the beginning of the year, let us say, merchants in great numbers were picking up their own mail, and delivery was slower than necessary. There was also a shortage of staff and space because of the great expansion that has occurred. I do believe the deputy postmaster general has dealt with the matter on a short-time basis in a very sympathetic and satisfactory way, for the present. He was very quick to see, in the light of the report on the Toronto problem, that more staff and space were necessary. These were forthcoming, and in time I believe they will produce a great improvement there in so far as postal service is concerned. We believe that given time, with the new rental space, much will be provided that will be good for all concerned. In addition there will be more letter carriers on the walks to provide better service to merchants receiving their mail.
However, I would say this; that the split premises, one permanent and the other rental premises newly acquired, are not now large enough. These split premises cannot make for the best possible service in this important shopping and business area. I do think we have to look for something better. While the businessmen concerned are restrained in their representations, I know they feel the time has come when the department should think about one consolidated building for all postal services in this area.
We all realize that it is the function of the Department of Public Works to make this consolidation and on these estimates I do not want to go into detail as to that matter. However, I would point out that Rosedale was neglected with respect to its public facilities during the 1930's because of depressed conditions. In the 1940's it was restricted because of wartime conditions and the aftermath thereof. We now think that progress toward a new building is most important in this all-important area.
I ask the Acting Postmaster General to exercise his qualities of action which have been so apparent in the past in this department. We do not forget that when he took over as Acting Postmaster General in the fall of last year, action was taken to provide this department with more revenue, and with this extra revenue has come the means of helping to stabilize labour conditions within the department, as well as other matters of importance to the public. Before he ceases to function as Acting Postmaster General he might consider with the worthy deputy making a recommendation about the situation of which I am speaking, in terms of 50433-264
public works. I have always found the Minister of Public Works co-operative.
Mr. Chairman, I interrupted several hon. gentlemen on the other side when they were discussing the estimates of the Department of Public Works, and I do not think my hon. friend from Rosedale will feel that I am being unfair when I suggest that perhaps he too is going a little far.
Mr. Chairman, I have tried to keep myself within the framework of the Post Office Department with regard to the recommendations the minister can make. I shall just accept "in a kindly way" the suggestion that I go no further with those remarks, but if the minister has trouble in convincing his colleague I would be willing to take a hand. In the past I have found him very helpful.
Just as we have solved the postal problems at St. Clair and Yonge streets, I hope ultimately we will have a better solution for the area of postal station F.
In conclusion I wish to pay a tribute to the businessmen particularly for their spirit of co-operation. Above all I wish to pay a tribute to the officials of the department, and in particular to the Postmaster General. It is my good fortune to have known them all for many years, and I have listened to some criticisms in this debate with disgust. I pay tribute to them as worthy public servants who have discharged their duties with all possible responsibility in the circumstances. With this I conclude my remarks.
Before the item carries I should like to ask the acting minister or the parliamentary assistant to explain to the members under what authority the Post Office Department is cutting down the holidays of postmen because they are late for work. As the minister knows, this question has come to a head in Vancouver within the last week, because there has been a meeting there of the executive of the Canadian postal employees' association. According to press dispatches the executive of that association took the position unanimously that the department had no authority whatever to impose penalties of this kind.
I understand that under the provision if a postman is more than three hours late over the whole of the year he loses one day of his vacation. For being late a total of three to five hours during the whole year he loses one and a half days, and he loses another half day for each additional two hours.
I have never heard of penalties of this kind being imposed by any other department of
the government. The officials of this association claim that the penalties are much too severe. For example, one report states:
CPEA officers here feel the lateness penalties are too drastic and ''there's no reason" why milder penalties, such as fines or pay deductions, can't be imposed.
It seems to me to be going rather far for the Post Office Department to set up a rule of this kind. Surely it is not necessary to take drastic steps of that nature. These men are engaged in work which is very hard, and the men who deliver the mail are out in all kinds of weather. Cutting down their holidays in this manner is a good deal like the treatment that might be handed out to a child. It does not fit in with the conduct of government business. These officers claim that the civil service commission sets the holidays and that the postal department has no right to interfere with them. I would appreciate very much having an explanation from either the acting minister or the parliamentary assistant.
do not have it in front of me, but I believe there is a section of the Civil Service Act which permits departments to impose disciplinary penalties when necessary. I understand that some departments impose fines and others impose penalties of loss of vacation, to use the hon. member's term. As far as the department is concerned we have received a great many complimentary comments from our own employees, most of whom are punctual. They have felt that over a period of years they were being penalized because those who were late were, as we say, getting away with it. With that idea in mind a schedule was drawn up. I do not have the schedule in front of me, but I do believe the details as given in the newspaper are quite accurate. There is a three-hour leeway. We allow lateness up to three hours for which there is no penalty. After that-
Yes. But, of course, at the same time consideration is given to whether a person is held up because of an unexpected storm, or the breaking down of a bus, or something of that kind. Every possible reason for lateness is taken into consideration. These penalties apply to the people who persist in being late. We feel that in fairness to the other employees some disciplinary measure should be taken, and in fairness to the public whom we are trying to serve we feel our employees must be on time.
Perhaps that is a question that is a little unfair to put to the parliamentary assistant. I believe every department of government has some sort of regulations; certainly mine has. As far as I know they have never come up in the house, but I have had occasion to inquire about their details. One has to recognize that in running any big organization where punctuality is essential to the service of the public the great majority of the employees who are punctual would be unfairly discriminated against if there were not some penalty against that very small minority who are slack. As the parliamentary assistant has said, allowance is always made for legitimate reasons, and in addition there is a three-hour leeway.
For the year. It may be that the exact regulations of this department are not quite what they should be, I do not know, but we shall certainly look into that. The principle of the thing is that there must be some form of discipline, and I am sure the hon. gentleman who represents Esquimalt-Saanich would not disagree with the view that there must be some disciplinary regulations that will keep the employees up to scratch when they are serving the people.
propriety of having penalties. What I am questioning is penalties in the nature of cutting down a man's holidays. I should like to know what other departments of government impose penalties of that kind.