Pension Reform Act

An Act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Jim Flaherty  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act to increase the contribution rates in order to bring the members’ share of the current service cost to 50% and to increase the retirement age from 55 to 65. The amendments also provide for a reduced allowance before members reach the age of 65, and they coordinate allowances with pension benefits paid under the Canada Pension Plan or under a similar provincial pension plan. They also reduce the rate of interest to be credited to the pension accounts established under the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and change the allowance payable to former Prime Ministers who cease to hold the office of Prime Minister after December 31, 2012.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

November 29th, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy and proud to stand today to speak to Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012.

I consistently hear time and time again from my constituents that their top priorities for our government are jobs and economic growth. I believe the same holds true for all Canadians.

Our government has listened to Canadians and job creation and continuing to strengthen and expand the Canadian economy are our top priorities. We can see that in the small things, like the title of this bill, the jobs and growth act, and we can see it in the big things, like the international praise and recognition our government has earned. We can see that in the more than 820,000 plus net new jobs created under our watch since July 2009.

Our government is delivering what we promised to Canadians: careful and competent stewardship to improve our employment rates and strengthen our economy to benefit all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Strong as our economy is, there are many external factors which we cannot control. Many of these pose a threat and the American and global economic state can affect us. However well our economy is doing, how ever many jobs we have created, it can still be jeopardized by global financial uncertainty. That is why it is crucial that we get our fine tuning right.

The budget tabled last March got it right. The first implementation act, the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act, got it right. Bill C-45 gets it right.

Before the global recession hit in 2008, our government had cut taxes 140 times, saving the average Canadian household $3,100 a year. That $3,000 is being spent by Canadian families or being saved by Canadian families that they would not have otherwise. That extra money in the pockets of Canadians stimulates various economic sectors.

Before the recession hit, our government had brought our national debt to its lowest level in 25 years, paying down $40 billion. Since the recession, the government has invested substantially across Canada to ease the pain caused by the recession and to stimulate growth.

The days now are not as dark as they were in 2008 and 2009. We have to ensure we are protected against further economic decline, but we also cannot spend borrowed money forever. The balance is in the fine tuning I spoke of earlier. The government has balanced this correctly, hedging ourselves against further global downturns and growing public debt.

A prime example of our continued focus on jobs and economic growth is the renewal of the hiring tax credit for small businesses. Anyone who has driven through Mississauga East—Cooksville, the riding I represent, will know that it is full of small businesses and across our country small businesses employ about half of the workforce. However, small businesses are often the first hit and the hardest hit by economic downturns. That is why our government is so concerned with helping small businesses.

The hiring credit for small businesses offers a tax saving of $1,000 per new hire. Extending this credit incentivizes hiring new people to help reduce employment and it makes life easier for small businessmen and women across Canada to create and fill new staff positions. Last year it benefited nearly 534,000 employers. The capacity and scope of this tax credit to improve employment and help small business grow is massive, and I am proud to support its extension.

In the 1990s Canadians saw the harm and risk caused by sustained deficits. The government of the time managed to drastically reduce government spending, but it had done so at the cost to services and by cutting transfers to the provinces that pay for many services.

Our government made a pledge to Canadians that it would not cut transfer payments to provinces and it would not cut the funding that paid for health care and other services. We will reduce the deficit, but not at the cost to front line services to Canadians.

Instead, we have opted to make systemic, long-lasting reductions in the overall cost of government. These reductions will ensure that moving forward, the public service will be leaner, more streamlined and more sustainable.

The reductions come from all over the government. From simplifying regulations around grain elevators, to changes in public service pensions for new contributors after January 1, 2013, the bill would further our reductions in the actual cost of government.

I am pleased the House unanimously passed Bill C-46, which was originally a part of this bill. I heard first hand from many constituents, and I doubt that I am alone in this, that they found the benefits politicians and public servants much greater than their own, and they found this to be very problematic.

It is important that we show Canadians that we are taking the lead on cost reductions, and we have done this. It is important that we show Canadians that we respect the trust they have put in us to spend their tax dollars, and the bill does that. Our government will continue to show Canadians that we respect tax dollars.

These are just some of many reasons to support the bill.

Canadians know the benefit of tax credits like the hiring tax credit for small businesses, not least the millions of them who work at small businesses. Canadians know that jobs and continuing our economic growth is job one in these challenging times. Canadians also know that we need to balance our public sector spending to a sustainable level. Canadians know that this act reflects those needs.

When I spoke in the House regarding the first implementation act of Canada's economic action plan 2012, I was able to read out millions of dollars that our government invested in infrastructure and in research and development throughout the city of Mississauga. I know many other members can point to similar investments in the communities they represent. I was able to speak to improvements we were making with respect to foreign qualifications. These were steps forward for my community and for our country.

With Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012, we are taking further steps forward for the constituency I represent, for the constituencies each of us represents and for all Canadians.

I urge all parties and all members to support the bill.

November 29th, 2012 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Clear as mud, thank you very much, but we won't get into that. It could be a discussion for another day.

I want to ask you a couple of quick questions now.

With the passage of Bill C-46, the act to amend the retiring allowances of members of Parliament that was passed into law in November of this year, do you anticipate any savings in contributions to the members in the retiring allowances and the compensation arrangement accounts to be realized this fiscal year?

I know that there'll obviously be an impact on members and their retirement pensions, but what savings will the House realize this fiscal year and ongoing?

Committees of the House
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

November 26th, 2012 / 3:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I am a bit dismayed that my colleague across the way seems to have missed the part that I said for emphasis about the concern that we have around the committee. He suggested in his last point about the moot nature of amendments coming from committees. Some of the committees were given one committee meeting to hear from a couple of witnesses, view all of the clauses of the bill that were proposed, somehow formulate those amendments in the committee, and then vet those amendments and pass them on. Some committees did in fact move amendments.

My point is that in the instruction that came from the finance committee, it says quite explicitly in section (c), “any amendments suggested by the other Standing Committees, in the recommendations conveyed pursuant to paragraph (b),” which was all of the sections before, “shall be deemed to be proposed during the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45”. It is a committee instructing a whole set of other committees to move clauses that were then deemed to be accepted as if they were moved at that committee. Committees do not have the power to do this. Only the House of Commons can convey this power upon a committee.

I would argue that this has been a disaster from the start. Initially the government said it would not split any of the bill. Then it split off MP and senators' pensions. Then, by a mistake of the Liberals, it threw 450,000 public pensioners into that submission as well, which was then changed again. We created a whole new Bill C-46, which was then passed on through the Senate for royal recommendation.

The finance minister said we were not splitting the bill. Then we get to committee and they have this cockamamie motion that sends all sorts of instructions to other committees and asks them to move amendments to clauses of the bill that they were not given time to study, with a minimal number of witnesses, and then to move those amendments back to the committee as if they had existed there, as if somehow the House of Commons had instructed them to do that.

We gave the Conservatives that option. We gave them the option to move the bill through in a timely fashion. The member talks about some sort of congressional system in the U.S. where budget bills go to the eleventh hour. We gave the government assurance of a timeline. We gave it a section of the bill to be carved out and studied properly because that is the whole function of Parliament, to hold the government to account. The government refused it and said that instead we would have this system in which we endow the finance committee with far more powers than anyone ever imagined.

If this is allowed to go on, in the future we could then say that committees are allowed to take far greater instruction, to break all of the precedents that this place guides itself by and to start instructing amendments to come from different places, instructing committees to study bills whether they want to or not, and then that all comes back to one committee, which somehow has become powerful.

In terms of the last point, that every bill, every consideration of this place has to do with the economy and therefore the finance committee, under some perverse notion by the House leader of the government, would then have to study every bill brought forward. Of course that is not what we are talking about. It is appropriate for Bill S-8 to go to the Indian affairs committee. It is appropriate for bills that have something to do with the environment to go to the environment committee, which was our point from the beginning.

The problem with the omnibus bill is that it crowded together so many various issues, which Conservatives used to say was a bad idea when they were in opposition. Now suddenly they are in government and they think omnibus bills are the best thing and start to create the largest ones in Canadian history and jam everything together. It does not work. It does not allow Parliament to perform its function for the people that we represent.

Clearly, there is a great deal of detail and procedural orientation to this, but if the government House leader chooses to ignore the most fundamental and foundational point of this point of order, then he is choosing to be blind to the fact of what his government and the finance minister created when they made this mess of a monster omnibus bill.

Committees of the House
Points of Order
Routine Proceedings

November 26th, 2012 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to wait through much of our procedural moment because I have a significant point of order to raise today. It is of some duration and I wanted to allow members who have to go on to other business to do so.

This point of order is in reference to Bill C-45, specifically with the work that was done by the committees, the powers that committee have and the power that the House retains as the place that created our committees.

It is often said that committees are the masters of their own domain. It is an important concept and it makes an important point about a committee's autonomy. Perhaps you will agree with me when I say that this concept gets exaggerated from time to time by committees.

It means that each of our standing committees is in charge of its own affairs. When it is formed by order of the House and when work is assigned to it by the House, it is largely up to the committee to decide how and when to tackle it. However, it is not true, as some suggest, that this means committees can do whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want. There are rules set out in procedural text, Standing Orders and precedents of our legislature and committees cannot simply throw these rules out whenever it pleases them. Each committee may be the master of its domain in many respects but there are clear and distinct limits on those domains that committees must respect, even if it does not suit some members of the majority governing body.

In the case of Bill C-45, the second massive omnibus bill introduced by the government, the government has been stretching the limits of what can and should be tolerated from a majority government in this Parliament. Parliamentary procedural rules are clear that, notwithstanding the opposition's right to delay things that are unacceptable to them, the government must have the right to make progress on its legislative agenda in a reasonable manner.

However, the government has already tested, and we would argue, broken, the democratic limits of our legislature by packing a legislative agenda of an entire parliamentary session into one or two bills and then cynically adding the words “budget implementation” to the front cover.

In the previous incarnation of this tactic on Bill C-38, Mr. Speaker, you heard multiple submissions from opposition members who felt that the government had simply gone well beyond the reasonable limits of what might be honestly included in its budget bill. You disagreed with the interventions of the opposition at that time, but I hope you will conclude, after this submission, that the government has simply played too fast and loose with the rules that must govern the passage of all legislation, whatever its form or title and that such action undermines Parliament's essential ability to do its work on behalf of Canadians; namely, to be able to hold government to account.

Today, I will not discuss the legitimacy or the value of omnibus bills. It is ironic that this government, in its great wisdom, is single-handedly teaching Canadians words and phrases that they would never have come to know without the Conservatives' help.

A few years ago, the government plucked the word “prorogation” from the pages of procedural texts, making it the topic of discussion around the nation's dinner tables and the impetus behind many demonstrations across the country. Thanks to the Conservatives, Canadians have had to learn a new definition of “ministerial accountability” because, unfortunately, under this Prime Minister, ministers seem to have no accountability. And they have turned the word “omnibus” into a bad word. They have systematically avoided Parliament's oversight by using this legislative tool and abusing the power of their government, which barely won a majority.

During the committee process on its most recent monstrosity of a budget omnibus bill, I believe the government has simply gone too far in its casual relationship with the parliamentary rules that govern this place and Canadian democracy, and that the legislation should be thrown out and made to start over again as a result.

I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, along with this House and the Canadians hoping for better from their Parliament, of what has transpired with respect to Bill C-45, the government's second omnibus budget implementation bill for the 2012-13 year.

On October 18 of this year, following the adoption of the way and means Motion No. 13, the Minister of Foreign Affairs moved, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, that Bill C-45 be read a first time and printed. On October 24, the Minister of Public Safety moved that Bill C-45 be read a second time and referred to committee.

After using time allocation to shut down debate again, second reading of Bill C-45 ended with the passage of the following motion on October 30 of this year:

...that Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures be now read a second time and referred to [the Standing Committee on Finance].

As a matter of record, Hansard on October 30 specifically quotes the Speaker saying, “I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance”.

The reference of this bill to the committee, as set out in the motion the House adopted, was always to the finance committee and only to the finance committee.

That is an important point. Because the House is master of its own activities, and in order to protect its rights, it must be certain that its orders of reference are complied with. As you know, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the legislative process adopted by the House, a bill can only be referred to one committee, and this committee must be the one designated by the House itself.

Committees derive their existence and authority from the House of Commons. The House creates committees specifically through Standing Order 104, which further regulates how they are constituted and governed under Standing Order 106. The House also sets out the specific mandate of each of the standing committees under Standing Order 108.

An excellent summary of this regime can be found in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, which I will refer to as O'Brien and Bosc, on pages 960 and 962, which says the following about standing committees:

They are empowered to study and report to the House on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization and operation of the departments assigned to them. More specifically, they can review:

the statute law relating to the departments assigned to them;

the program and policy objectives of those departments, and the effectiveness of their implementation thereof;

the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans of those departments and the effectiveness of the implementation thereof;

and an analysis of the relative success of those departments in meeting their objectives.

In addition to this general mandate, other matters are routinely referred by the House to its standing committees: bills, estimates, Order-in-Council appointments, documents tabled in the House pursuant to statute, and specific matters which the House wishes to have studied. In each case, the House chooses the most appropriate committee on the basis of its mandate.

I make particular note that all abilities cited in this passage flow from the House, not from another committee. It is the House of Commons that authorizes these powers. I emphasize the fact that the reference on Bill C-45 to committee was only ever to the finance committee. The motion passed in the House only referred to that committee.

In other words, this does not prevent other committees from studying the content of different parts of an omnibus bill. The committees always have that right, but this study must be separate from the study carried out pursuant to the order of reference the House gave the committee responsible for the official study of the bill in question.

The only way for other committees to legitimately study parts of an omnibus bill is to divide it into several pieces of legislation and ask the House to issue an order of reference for the new bill or bills to these committees.

The official opposition has been calling all along for this bill to be divided and studied properly by the different committees. Members will recall that the official opposition moved a series of motions in the House to divide this bill, using the same method that was used to divide the budget bill and create and pass Bill C-46 on MPs' pension plan, even though we got Bill C-46 only after the NDP rejected the Liberals' original ill-advised proposal to circumvent the legislative process, not only for the pensions of MPs, but also for the pensions of public sector workers and RCMP members.

We have done this in that exact circumstance. The House of Commons took Bill C-45 and, by the powers of the House, divided out the section that was related to the pensions of members and senators.

There was a mistake made in the original proposition by the third party, I must say supported somewhat happily by the government, which would have brushed through changes that would have impacted more than 450,000 public employees, RCMP members and their families without a minute of study or debate in the House of Commons or at any committee.

The official opposition was actually paying attention to what the Liberals had proposed, while the Liberals themselves may not have, and were resistant to the idea of throwing 450,000 public servants and RCMP members under the bus for political expediency.

We divided out that section of the bill and made a counter proposal to just deal with the pensions of MPs and senators. The government was fine with that as well because that was what was actually called for by all members of the House, as opposed to what the third party suggested.

Here we arrive at the essential problem with the approach of the Conservatives to Parliament and making law. They think the rules do not apply to them and their majority means they can cook up any scheme they want just to meet the communication goals of the Prime Minister's office.

In the Standing Committee on Finance, in response to intense pressure from the official opposition and Canadians from coast to coast to coast, in order to give the “appearance” of due diligence on Bill C-45 at committee stage, here is what the Conservatives cooked up.

I will read from the minutes and will emphasize the part that is important to the future ruling of the Speaker. On October 31, the Standing Committee on Finance adopted the following. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance moved:

That, in relation to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, October 30, 2012, respecting Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures,

(a) the Chair of the Standing Committee write, as promptly as possible, to the Chairs of the following Standing Committees inviting those Standing Committees to consider the subject-matter of the following provisions of the said Bill...

A number of the committees are laid out in this relation from the parliamentary secretary: the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food; the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration; the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans; The Standing Committee on Health; the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities; the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights; the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security; and the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

This also shows how wide a net the government cast in this bill.

Here are the important parts in the instruction coming out of the finance committee.

This is the part that we argue the finance committee never had the power to do because only the House of Commons can do such a thing.

With respect to section (b) it states, “each of the Standing Committees, listed in paragraph (a)”, all of those which I just recounted:

be requested to convey recommendations, including any suggested amendments, in both official languages, in relation to the provisions considered by them, in a letter to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, in both official languages not later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 2012;

(c) any amendments suggested by the other Standing Committees, in the recommendations conveyed pursuant to paragraph (b), shall be deemed to be proposed during the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45, provided that the recommendations are received prior to the relevant clauses being considered, and further provided that the members of the Standing Committee...may propose amendments—

Section (d) states:

the Committee shall proceed to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45 no later than Wednesday, November 21...provided that the Chair may limit debate on each clause to a maximum of five minutes...

Therefore, this is a further time allocation, now at the committee stage, and a further shutting down of debate. Section (e) states:

amendments to Bill C-45, other than the amendments deemed to be proposed pursuant...be submitted to the Clerk...

As well, there are other instructions in sections (e) and (f).

Some important facts immediately stand out. The committee did not present its report on the bill to the House by Thursday, November 22 at the earliest. In fact, it presented the report this afternoon. Why? Because the committee violated its own procedural rules when the government ended up in a new mess as a result of communication issues.

I also note that this study, carried out by committees other than the finance committee, is the tactic the third party used to try to improve parliamentary oversight of this bill, from what I understand.

The Liberals got what they wanted, but only because the government was all set to say it was co-operating, when in fact, the entire process was nothing more than a procedural play orchestrated by the government and its unwitting allies in the Liberal Party, who forgot the old saying: be careful what you wish for.

On the other end of this procedural spectrum, the legitimate end, the motions that the official opposition proposed to split the bill in a real and legitimate fashion, which were quickly rejected by the government almost out of hand, would have referred the separate policy areas in Bill C-45 to the appropriate committees for an actual study. Then each committee could held hearings, called a variety of witnesses with critical expertise and then having hearing points of view on the bill, could have create reasonable amendments for debate and decision in a clause-by-clause meeting in each of those committee hearings.

Finally, each committee could then have reported its bill back to the House in due course. This would have dramatically improved a flawed bill, corrected the twisting of the rules from the government and reconfirmed our collective commitment to respect taxpayer money and their Parliament. This bill has massive implications not only in what it sets out to do but its implications on this place and the legitimacy that we hold as parliamentarians to hold government to account.

In the sham of a process that the Conservatives then used, various committees were asked by the finance committee, not the House of Commons, to study and propose amendments to a bill for which it had no order of reference at all. Not only was this a procedural disaster, but because of the impossibly short timelines, there was no opportunity for reasoned debate at the other committees regardless. That last point is a matter of some debate I realize, but it further emphasizes that a process set up by the government was a true disregard for our legislative process. Committees were hearing entire sections of the bill with one or two witnesses and no cross-examination ability and moving through clause-by-clause in minutes with no discussion.

We have been left with an illegitimate process that flies in the face of our procedures and practices, the implication of which is summed up best by O'Brien and Bosc's passage on committee reports, at page 985, where it says:

In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be ruled out of order.

When committees have gone beyond their mandate in the past, the Speaker saw fit to either reject sections of that committee's report or the entire report.

Mr. Speaker, you yourself referred this bill to a specific committee. I think the Standing Committee on Finance simply did not have the authority to refer sections of Bill C-45 to another standing committee. The committee had the right and duty to examine this bill and report it back to the House, with or without amendments.

Let me review quickly, for those following at home this procedural nightmare that the government has created, a government that seems reluctant or unable to follow the rules that have been set out by this place for many decades, how a committee is supposed to deal with a complex bill referred to it by the House after second reading.

Normally, after passage of a bill at second reading, the committee which received the bill would organize its time, call for a variety of witnesses based on the lists provided by the recognized parties in proportion to their representation at the committee, hear the witnesses, formulate amendments, schedule a clause-by-clause meeting, call each clause, hear the amendments to the clause, vote on the amendments and the clauses and then, finally, vote on the bill. Mr. Speaker, you and I both know this process well. That is not what happened here.

The results of these decisions would then be reported back to the House, where the legitimacy was derived for the committee's studies. This has been a time-honoured practice and, regardless of the bill, the intensity of the debate or the divisions, it has been a process practised by governments of all political stripes.

The House, in its wisdom, has even provided a mechanism to allow for a variation on the normal progress of a bill through committee, which is called a motion of instruction. I will call once again upon the sage guidance of O'Brien and Bosc, this time in the chapter on the legislative process, at page 752, where it states:

Once a bill has been referred to committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its power, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

This is the power of the House of Commons. The House of Commons can send this motion of instruction to any committee to divide a bill, to bring a bill together, to study it in its most logical and proper way. That power rests solely with the House of Commons. No committee can take upon any of those actions themselves. They are not the masters of that fate.

If the government were interested in following the rules of this place and wanted to have a variety of committees study the bill, then it could have moved to instruct the committee to do so, what it should have otherwise been powerless to do. In this case, that is to have other committees conduct a review of the portions of the bill that dealt with their policy areas, transportation, Indian affairs, the environment and fisheries and oceans, and to allow amendments to those portions and to report them separately. The committee, if it felt incapable to deal with the sections of the bill that had so little to do with finance and the budget, could equally have asked the House for instruction.

However, the power to authorize this variance in the legislative process rests only with the House of Commons and not with the finance committee.

In your final judgment and assessment on this point of order, Mr. Speaker, one has to not only look at the case in front of us on Bill C-45, how the process has gone completely off the rails, but project forward that if we allow committees to start to make these types of decisions without any authority whatsoever derived from the House, masters of their own fate takes on a more perverse nature, a more politically inspired nature and one that governments of all political stripes would abhor.

I am going to begin to wrap up in a minute.

Because no other committee was given an order of reference by the House to examine Bill C-45 and because the House did not pass a motion of instruction to complement the order of reference, I find it unacceptable that a committee other than the Standing Committee on Finance held votes on the amendments to Bill C-45, which is exactly what the Standing Committee on Finance allowed. Votes therefore took place and, as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance's motion clearly indicates, the decision of these other committees had a binding effect on the work of the Standing Committee on Finance. Yet, this is a right that only the House lawfully possesses.

To be clear, any committee has the right to initiate a study on the subject matter that applies to their policy area, including on the elements of Bill C-45, that the government should have included in a separate bill. Though, even then, those committees cannot report back to another committee. Mr. Speaker, you know this well. One committee cannot just choose to report their amendments and clauses back to another, but rather back to the House of Commons from which the committee derives its power and to which it is accountable, not to another committee but to this place.

Committees also have the power to meet jointly with other committees, but there again a report from a joint committee can only come back to the House of Commons not to another committee. This point is addressed by O'Brien and Bosc, on page 983, where it is referring to a joint committee. It says the following:

If a report is adopted during a joint meeting, each committee may present to the House a separate report, even though the two reports will be identical.

I will also refer to the same chapter, on pages 984 and 985, where a committee report to the House is covered. It says the following:

In order to carry out their roles effectively, committees must be able to convey their findings to the House. The Standing Orders provide standing committees with the power to report to the House from to time, which is generally interpreted as being as often as they wish. A standing committee exercises that prerogative when its members agree on the subject and wording of a report and it directs the Chair to report to the House, which the Chair then does.

Like all other powers of standing committees, the power to report is limited to issues that fall within their mandate or that have been specifically assigned to them by the House. Every report must identify the authority under which it is presented. In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

We have rules for committee which show that they receive their authority from the House and which also say the committees report their work back to the House and only to the House.

In conclusion, the other committees of the House should never have accepted the request of the Standing Committee on Finance, which made them a type of subcontractor to what can only be described as the sloppy work of the Minister of Finance and his parliamentary secretary.

I think that other committees could have easily examined certain parts of Bill C-45.

These committees could have heard from witnesses and reported their findings to the House.

However, because the House referred the issue only to the Standing Committee on Finance and the government minimized the importance of our rules of procedure in order to serve its own communications purposes and appear democratic even while introducing an omnibus bill, I think, Mr. Speaker, that as the guardian of the rules that protect the integrity of this venerable institution, you should reject the committee's report and remove it from the order paper.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to your ruling on this.

On one final note, I realize without a doubt that a ruling in favour of this submission would be a strong indictment of the government. However, after all of the legislative and procedural corners the Conservatives have cut since getting their much-coveted and very slim majority in the last federal election, perhaps this would be a healthy reminder to all concerned that their power is still limited by the rules of our parliamentary democracy. Perhaps they could use this as a wake-up call. They are not the kings that lord over this country, but just servants to its people.

November 19th, 2012 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Francisco Rico-Martinez Regional Director, Toronto, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

We are basically focusing on youth and racialized youth because these are the people we serve in the different community-based organizations, and this has been an issue identified by our members.

A 2010 Toronto Star investigative series on Toronto police data for the period 2003 to 2008 found that black men ages 15 to 24 years are stopped and documented 2.5 times more than white males the same age. The finding echoed a similar analysis of data the Toronto Star conducted in 2002.

The overrepresentation of visible minorities in the prison system is rooted in factors of poverty, economic inequality, and historical prejudice. That includes the over-policing of young black men, a practice that results in racial profiling. The existence of racial profiling by police is well documented. It has been acknowledged to different degrees by various police services in Canada, including the Kingston police chief in 2005.

Racialization of poverty has been growing in Canada, including among the working poor. Racialized individuals do not have the same access to the labour market as everyone else has. This was documented in a recent report on Canada’s colour-coded labour market, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

In their study, “Review of the Roots of Youth Violence”, Roy McMurtry and Alvin Curling have said that while poverty does not lead to violence, it can be one of the factors in play. They point out that poverty without hope, poverty with isolation, poverty with hunger and poor living conditions, poverty with racism, and poverty with numerous daily reminders of social exclusion can lead to the immediate risk factors for violence.

They note that lack of investment in services for those affected by these circumstances will have a deep impact on young people, leaving them with few choices for their day-to-day needs, even such needs as a quiet place to do homework. They note that these challenges can be exacerbated for those who have issues with language and cultural differences.

Clause 24 in Bill C-43 will have an unintended and disproportionate impact on black and other racialized permanent residents, particularly youth, a population that has been historically disadvantaged in Canada, and is already subject to routine suspicious scrutiny, negative stereotyping in media, and is often faced with longer sentences.

Corrections Canada's experience with visible minority offenders is described as follows in the study mentioned earlier:

In summary, visible minority offenders seem to be less “entrenched” in a criminal lifestyle than Caucasian offenders. They tend to have less extensive criminal histories, are incarcerated less often for offences against the person, and are lower in risk and need than Caucasian offenders. They also tend to have higher levels of education, less unemployment, and are less often single.

The study notably concludes that these circumstances may help in rehabilitation.

Bill C-10 has become law, and has introduced minimum sentencing. It will mean that even some non-violent crimes will carry a sentence of six months, making sure that those permanent residents will be deported from Canada.

Those who are subject to this provision can be deported regardless of how long they have lived in Canada. They will not have the right to appeal. There will be no consideration of the circumstances of the offence and potential for rehabilitation. There will be no consideration of the length of time they have lived here or their ties to family and community.

Individuals who have lived all their lives in Canada, particularly those who came as infants or young children, would lose families, friends and communities when they are deported to a place they barely know or remember from before. They will have no family or community connections over there. Unlike Canadian citizens, permanent residents will be punished twice for committing a crime.

We urge you to seriously rethink this bill, particularly the severe implications for young, visible minority Canadian residents. We strongly recommend that clause 24 be withdrawn, allowing the right to appeal to stand. We also encourage you to ensure that young Canadian residents are fully informed of the impact of Bill C-43 through avenues such as school curricula, as well as through other opportunities and campaigns, because this is going to have a serious impact in the communities that we serve.

Thank you very much.

November 7th, 2012 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

I have a point of order.

I assert that the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development lacks the authority from the House to propose amendments to Bill C-45 or to issue a report to the Standing Committee on Finance and therefore that we should not participate in this clause-by-clause hearing.

Let me remind this committee of where we, as a committee, derive our authority to do the things we do. We derive our existence and our authority from the House of Commons itself. The House creates our committee specifically through Standing Order 104, and the Standing Orders further regulate how our committees are constituted and governed under Standing Order 106.

The House also sets out the specific mandate of each standing committee under Standing Order 108. An excellent summary of this regime can be found in the book entitled House of Commons Procedure and Practice, commonly called O'Brien and Bosc. On pages 960 and 962, referring to standing committees, the document reads:

They are empowered to study and report to the House on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization and operation of the departments assigned to them. More specifically, they can review: the statute law relating to the departments assigned to them; the program and policy objectives of those departments, and the effectiveness of their implementation thereof; the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans of those departments, and the effectiveness of the implementation thereof; and an analysis of the relative success of those departments in meeting their objectives. In addition to this general mandate, other matters are routinely referred by the House to its standing committees: bills, estimates, Order-in-Council appointments, documents tabled in the House pursuant to statute, and specific matters which the House wishes to have studied. In each case, the House chooses the most appropriate committee on the basis of its mandate.

Please note that all the abilities cited in this citation flow from the House, not from another committee.

So let us look at what we have here with Bill C-45.

On October 18th of this year, following the adoption of Ways and Means motion 13, the Minister of Foreign Affairs moved, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, that Bill C-45 be read a first time and printed. In October, the Minister of Public Safety moved that Bill C-45 be read a second time and referred to a committee, and after using time allocation, the debate on the second reading of Bill C-45 ended with the passage of the following the motion on October 30th of this year:

that Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Hansard on October 30th, immediately following the passage of the motion in the House, specifically quotes the Speaker saying:

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the Bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

The reference of this bill to committee was always only to the Standing Committee on Finance. The motion passed in the House referred only to the Standing Committee on Finance.

This is important, Mr. Chair. Under the legislative process that the House of Commons follows, a bill can only be referred to a single committee, the committee assigned by the House itself. This does not preclude any other committee from studying the subject matter of the sections of this omnibus bill. The official opposition has always advocated that this bill be split up, and effectively studied. The official opposition actually proposed a series of motions in the House to split this bill, using the same method as was used to pass Bill C-46, the MP pension plan provisions. Sadly, the House did not adopt those motions.

Those motions would have allowed this committee to actually study the separate bills which would have been referred to them, and then each committee could legitimately hold hearings, calling a variety of witnesses, with multiple viewpoints, and then, after hearing these points of view on the sections of the bill referred to them, could formulate reasoned amendments for debate and decision in a clause-by-clause meeting, and then the decision of the committee would be reported to the House in due course.

The traditional practice of committees to allow witnesses to be called from a variety of sources is being overridden by this fake belief that our committee will somehow have a meaningful clause-by-clause consideration of the parts of the bill referred to them by the Standing Committee on Finance.

There is another problem. We are being asked by the Standing Committee on Finance, not the House, to study and propose amendments to a bill, on such a short time line that, as we have seen, there is no opportunity for reasoned debate. In fact, we were not able to invite some witnesses to our meeting today, given the very short timelines. The process has been corrupted.

I wish to relate to you all one line from O'Brien and Bosc on committee reports. On page 985, it says:

In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

I submit to you, as the Chair, that the Standing Committee on Finance is unable to refer any parts of Bill C-45 to anyone. Their only duty is to study this bill and to report back to the House with or without amendment.

Let me review quickly how a committee is supposed to deal with a complex bill referred to it by the House after second reading.

Normally, after passage at second reading, the committee which received the bill would organize its time, call for a variety of witnesses based on the lists provided by the recognized parties in proportion to their representation at the committee, hear the witnesses, formulate amendments, schedule a clause-by-clause meeting, call each clause, hear amendments to the clauses, vote on the amendments and the clauses, and then vote on the bill. The results of these decisions would then be reported to the House.

The House, in its wisdom, has even provided a mechanism to allow for a variation on this normal progress of a bill through committee, which it called the motion of instruction.

I refer once more to O'Brien and Bosc, this time in the chapter on legislative process on page 752:

Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of the bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

So, if the government was interested in following the rules of this place, and wanted to have a variety of committees study this bill, then it could have moved to instruct any variety of those committees to conduct a review of the portions of the bill, allow amendments to those portions, and to report them separately. But the power to authorize this variance in the legislative process rests with the House of Commons, not the Standing Committee on Finance.

Because we have not received any order of reference from the House, and because there has been no instruction from the House subsequent to the passage of the bill at second reading, I submit to you that it is out of order for this committee to have any vote on any amendment relating to C-45. Unfortunately, our work will have been in vain.

I also submit to you that this committee has the right to initiate a study on the subject matter. In fact, it is really important to do so with the help of witnesses with different points of view. But we do not have the authority to report to another committee, only to the House.

While committees have the power to meet jointly with other committees, a report from a joint committee must report only to the House, not to another committee such as the Standing Committee on Finance.

Once again, I would like to quote O'Brien and Bosc on this. On page 983, when referring to a joint committee, it says:

If a report is adopted during a joint meeting, each committee may present to the House a separate report, even though the two reports will be identical.

So, according to O'Brien and Bosc, Mr. Chair, the report goes to the House, not to another committee.

Mr. Chair, I also refer you to the same chapter, pages 984 and 985, dealing with the way in which a committee can report to the House:

In order to carry out their roles effectively, committees must be able to convey their findings to the House. The Standing Orders provide standing committees with the power to report the House from time to time, which is generally interpreted as being as often as they wish. A standing committee exercises that prerogative when its members agree on the subject and wording of a report and it directs the Chair to report to the House, which the Chair then does.

It is really very clear. I will continue reading:

Like all other powers of standing committees, the power to report is limited to issues that fall within their mandate or that have been specifically assigned to them by the House. Every report must identify the authority under which it is presented. In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

I must remind you, Mr. Chair, the words come from O'Brien and Bosc.

We have rules for committees that show the committees receive their authority from the House, and that also say that committees report their information to the House. The request for us to somehow become subcontractors to shoddy work by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance should not be given any credence.

I suggest to you, Mr. Chair, that our job is to hear witnesses on Bill C-45 and report findings to the House. I do not believe that we should entertain any amendments to C-45, because the bill was never envisioned by the House as being dealt with at any committee other than the Standing Committee on Finance. I have already made reference to this, and it is very well explained in O'Brien and Bosc in the passages I have referred to above.

I further submit that it flies in the face of all our basic principles of being a committee if we agree that committees should receive their mandates from another committee—that is unheard of—and should then report to that committee rather than to the body which gives us authority, the House of Commons.

With that, I humbly await your ruling and decision on the matters I have just discussed.

November 6th, 2012 / 9:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a point of order this morning. Once we have reviewed the documents that have been submitted to us—

I would like to assert that this Standing Committee on Justice lacks the authority from the House to propose amendments to Bill C-45 or to issue a report to the Standing Committee on Finance, and that therefore we should not hold this farce of a clause-by-clause hearing.

I would like to remind this committee of where we as a committee derive our authority to do the things we do. We derive our existence and our authority from the House of Commons itself. The House creates our committees specifically through Standing Order 104, and the Standing Orders further regulate how our committees are constituted and governed under Standing Order 106. The House also sets out the specific mandate of each standing committee under Standing Order 108.

An excellent summary of this regime can be found in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, commonly called O'Brien and Bosc, on pages 960 and 962, which say, referring to standing committees:

They are empowered to study and report to the House on all matters relating to the mandate, management, organization and operation of the departments assigned to them. More specifically, they can review:

the statute law relating to the departments assigned to them;

the program and policy objectives of those departments, and the effectiveness of their implementation thereof;

the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans of those departments and the effectiveness of the implementation thereof; and

an analysis of the relative success of those departments in meeting their objectives.

In addition to this general mandate, other matters are routinely referred by the House to its standing committees: bills, estimates, Order-in-Council appointments, documents tabled in the House pursuant to statute, and specific matters which the House wishes to have studied. In each case, the House chooses the most appropriate committee on the basis of its mandate.

The key word is still the "House".

Please note that all abilities cited in this citation flow from the House, not from another committee.

So let us look at what we have here with Bill C-45. On October 18 this year, following the adoption of ways and means motion number 13, the Minister of Foreign Affairs moved on behalf of the Minister of Finance that Bill C-45 be read a first time and be printed. On October 24 the Minister of Public Safety moved that Bill C-45 be read a second time and referred to a committee, and after using time allocation, the debate on the second reading of Bill C-45 ended with the passage of the following motion on October 30 this year.

The motion, which passed, read: that Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures “be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance”.

As a matter of record, Hansard, on October 30, specifically quotes the Speaker as saying “I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance”— immediately following the passage of the motion in the House.

The reference of this bill to committee was always only to the finance committee. The motion passed in the House only referred to the finance committee. This is important. Under the legislative process that the House of Commons follows, a bill can only be referred to a single committee, the committee assigned by the House itself. This does not preclude any other committee from studying the subject matter of the sections of this omnibus bill.

The official opposition has always advocated that this bill be split up and effectively studied. The official opposition actually proposed a series of motions in the House to split this bill, using the same method as was used to pass Bill C-46, the MP pension plan provision. Sadly, the House did not adopt those motions.

Those motions would have allowed this committee to actually study the separate bills, which would have been referred to them. Then each committee could legitimately hold hearings, calling a variety of witnesses with multiple viewpoints, and, after hearing these points of view on the sections of the bill referred to them, could have formulated reasoned amendments for debate and decision in a clause-by-clause meeting. Then the decision of the committee would be reported to the House in due course.

Traditional practice of committees to allow witnesses to be called from a variety of sources is being overridden by this fake belief that our committee will somehow have a meaningful clause-by-clause consideration of the parts of the bill referred to us by the finance committee. We are being asked by the finance committee, not the House, to study and propose amendments to a bill on such a short timeline that there is no opportunity for reasoned debate. What we have here is a bastardization of the process.

I wish to relate to you all one line from O’Brien and Bosc, which I will repeat later on, on committee reports. On page 985, it states:

In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

I submit to you, as the chair, that the finance committee is unable to refer any parts of Bill C-45 to anyone. Its only duty is to study this bill and to report back to the House with or without amendment.

Let me review quickly how a committee is supposed to deal with a complex bill referred to it by the House after a second reading.

Normally after passage at second reading, the committee that received the bill would organize its time, call for a variety of witnesses based on the lists provided by the recognized parties in proportion to their representation at the committee, hear the witnesses, formulate amendments, schedule a clause-by-clause meeting, call each clause, hear amendments to the clauses, vote on the amendments and the clauses, and then vote on the bill. The results of these decisions would then be reported to the House.

The House, in its wisdom, has even provided a mechanism to allow for variation on this normal progress of a bill through committee, which it called a “motion of instruction”. If I can call again on O'Brien and Bosc, this time under their chapter on the legislative process, on page 752, it states:

Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

If the government were interested in following the rules of this place and wanted to have a variety of committees study this bill, then it could have moved to instruct any variety of these committees to conduct a review of the portions of the bill, allow amendments to those portions, and report them separately.

The power to authorize this variance in the legislative process rests with the House of Commons, not the finance committee. Because we have not received any order of reference from the House and because there has been no instruction from the House subsequent to the passage of the bill at second reading, I submit to you that it is out of order for this committee to have any vote on any amendment relating to Bill C-45.

I also submit to you that this committee has the right to initiate a study on the subject matter, but we don't have the authority to report to another committee, only to the House.

While committees have the power to meet jointly with other committees, a report from a joint committee must report only to the House, not to another committee.

I would like to quote again O'Brien and Bosc, from page 983, wherein referring to a joint committee it says:

If a report is adopted during a joint meeting, each committee may present to the House a separate report, even though the two reports will be identical.

I also refer you to the same chapter, on pages 984 and 985, where it covers how a committee reports to the House. It says:

In order to carry out their roles effectively, committees must be able to convey their findings to the House. The Standing Orders provide standing committees with the power to report to the House from time to time, which is generally interpreted as being as often as they wish. A standing committee exercises that prerogative when its members agree on the subject and wording of a report and it directs the Chair to report to the House, which the Chair then does.

Like all the powers of standing committees, the power to report is limited to issues that fall within their mandate or that have been specifically assigned to them by the House. Every report must identify the authority under which it is presented. In the past, when a committee has gone beyond its order of reference or addressed issues not included in the order, the Speaker of the House has ruled the report or a specific part of the report to be out of order.

We have rules for committees that show that committees receive their authority from the House. They also say that committees report their information to the House. The request for us to somehow become subcontractors to shoddy work by the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance should not be given any credence.

I suggest to you, Mr. Chair, that our job is to hear witnesses on Bill C-45 and to report findings to the House.

I do not believe we should entertain any amendments to Bill C-45 because the bill was never envisioned by the House as being dealt with by any committee other than the finance committee.

I furthermore submit that it flies in the face of all of our basic principles of being a committee if we agree that committees should receive their mandates from another committee and should then report to that committee, rather than to the body that gives us authority, the House of Commons.

I refer you to the letter that authorizes us to carry out this farce this morning, this letter that was sent by the chair of the—

Standing Committee on Finance.

The chair, James Rajotte, wrote the following to you, Mr. Chair:Our Committee is currently studying Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures. Please find attached a motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance on October 31, 2012, inviting your Committee to consider the subject matter of clauses 206 to 209 of Bill C-45.

These clauses concern the Judges Act and certain amendments.

The letter continues:

The adopted motion also invites your Committee, if it deems it appropriate, to provide us with recommendations, including any suggested amendments.... Therefore, I invite you to send me recommendations, including any suggested amendments, of your Committee by letter, in both official languages, no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. Our Committee will consider them during its clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill. Finally, if your Committee decides not to suggest any amendments, please notify the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance in writing as soon as possible.

I thought I had seen everything, under this government. But receiving mandates from other committees is taking the farce of consultation a little too far. I detest wasting my time, given all the work that we are going to be asked to do.

Usually here, at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we do serious work, and we take our mandates seriously. We make serious recommendations and propose serious amendments, and we do not take part in a joke of a consultation that is utterly meaningless.

This is the point of order that I wanted to raise to the committee and to you, Mr. Chair, in this context.

I'm sorry, Mr. Minister. I didn't want to make you lose your time. But these are extremely important issues. Procedures apply in this House, and if we start cutting corners to give a clear conscience to the government, which refused to divide its mammoth bill, that isn't our problem. We do not have to take part in this monumental farce.

Thank you.

November 1st, 2012 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

October 31, 2012

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 31st day of October, 2012, at 6:01 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Wallace

Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor

The schedule indicates that the bills assented to were:

Bill S-206, An Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day--Chapter 21, 2012; and

Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act--Chapter 22, 2012.

October 31st, 2012 / 5 p.m.
See context

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Yes.

Since the schedule that the subcommittee established says that the fifth meeting to deal with the other bills, including Bill C-45, would be held on November 29, but that Ms. Glover's motion mentions November 21, and since November 21 will be the day after the deadline set for receiving amendments from the various committees, I propose:

“that paragraphs (d), (e) and (f) of the motion be sent to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure for study at its meeting of Wednesday, November 1, 2012”.

That is so that the subcommittee can decide the schedule of meetings and discuss the dates on which the clause-by-clause study of the bill can take place.

We will then be able to vote on the rest and make a decision about the other committees.

October 30th, 2012 / 9:10 a.m.
See context

Senior Health Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

Denise Page

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good morning. I am Denise Page, Senior Health Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society.

On behalf of cancer patients and their families, we thank the committee for giving us this opportunity to speak about problems in access to special benefits and to highlight the improvements Bill C-44 will bring.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people with cancer. For a few years, the society has been calling for special benefits for parents of children with cancer. We want those benefits to reflect the reality the parents face. Currently, the only benefits parents have the right to are six weeks of compassionate care benefits, if a physician certifies the death of their child in the next six months.

I want to begin by talking to you briefly about childhood cancer. It is estimated that, in 2012, 1,400 children will be diagnosed with cancer and 160 will die from the disease. Although the five-year survival rate, for several types of childhood cancer, is 82%, cancer remains the second leading cause of death in children over one month of age, after accidents.

We are recommending that the committee ensure the flexibility of the new benefit program for parents, and here is why. The progression and the treatment of the disease vary depending on the cancer type and the child. Although each patient is different, chemotherapy treatment, for a child, takes about six months, but it can range from three to twelve months.

When radiation therapy is used as the main cancer treatment, it is usually administered once a day, five days a week, over three to eight weeks. Treatment may also be longer, and hospitalization periods may be more frequent or longer—or both—and not always ongoing. In addition, specialized pediatric oncology treatment is available only in certain Canadian cities, so many parents have to travel more than 100 km to have access to the required medical care for their child.

Taking care of one's child after a cancer diagnosis is not optional. It is critical for parents to participate 24/7 in the care of their child.

Cancer in children and youth creates a disproportionate impact on health and social services systems, as well as on the economy. Having a child with cancer is a difficult experience whose significant repercussions go beyond treatment. An estimated two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors have at least one chronic or late-occurring effect from their cancer therapy, and up to one-third of these late effects are considered major, serious or life-threatening.

One of the important things for this committee to keep in mind is that, in the case of cancer, more children are treated over a longer period of time, but not always on an ongoing basis. Cancer treatment is episodic. Pediatricians strongly encourage that children resume a normal life as soon as they feel better.

For that reason, we recommend the committee ensure that the program is flexible, so that parents can take time off from work when necessary, and resume a normal life when their child does. The idea is to recognize the non-continuity of treatments and the flexibility regarding benefit renewal in the event of a relapse or late side effects.

I will now briefly talk to you about combined benefits. Ms. Kittmer will be able to explain that better by sharing her personal story.

The combining of benefits is an important improvement that will stem from Bill C-44. It will allow an individual receiving parental benefits to claim sickness benefits in case of illness. Cancer cases during or following a pregnancy are not very common. The type of cancer most often related to pregnancy is breast cancer. We don't know exactly how many women in Canada are affected, as that data is not collected. However, in the United States, 227,000 breast cancer cases are diagnosed annually, 7,000 of which are supposedly related to pregnancy.

Like Ms. Kittmer, many women told us about how difficult it was for them to access sickness benefits. They were going through the best time of their life and their worst nightmare at the same time. They are very happy about this improvement.

Unfortunately, given the surgery, chemotherapy treatments and radiation treatments involved, the 15 weeks of sickness benefits expire before the end of treatment. We are recommending that the committee ensure the program's flexibility when it comes to combined benefits, so that it will be easier for parents to go from sickness benefits to parental leave during the treatment, or vice versa, and so have the time to recover without losing any quality time with their child.

The job protection component of this legislation will help many Canadian families. As a number of people have mentioned, this will unfortunately not apply to many jobs that come under provincial and territorial legislation. That is why the Canadian Cancer Society is urging the committee to ask the federal government—at the next meeting of the relevant federal, provincial and territorial ministers—for a clear commitment to discussing the need to amend provincial and territorial legislation in order to provide the same job protection to all Canadians.

Last February, the Minister of Finance said that the new family caregivers tax credit is a first step. We see this bill as another important step. We will work with the members of this committee and all the governments on moving this issue forward. The Canadian Cancer Society feels that the next key step is to enhance sickness benefits.

Thank you.

Ms. Kittmer will now share her story.

October 24th, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Executive Director, Groupe d'aide et d'information sur le harcèlement sexuel au travail de la province de Québec

Yvonne Séguin

Okay.

We’ll go to page 5.

In our opinion it would be important that our presentation include the definitions provided by the help and information centre. You will find them on page 5 in both French and English.

On page 6, you will also find the definition for psychological harassment.

The comments and suggestions provided by the Groupe d'aide et d'information sur le harcèlement sexuel au travail de la province de Québec pertaining to Bill C-42 deal first of all with the proposed section 9.2: 9.2 The commissioner's power to appoint a person as a member or to appoint a member, by way of promotion, to a higher rank or level, includes the power to revoke the appointment and to take corrective action whenever the commissioner is satisfied that an error, an omission or improper conduct affected the selection of the person or member for appointment.

To this we propose the following addition: "or if he is convinced that the member sexually or psychologically harassed another member".

Section 12 of the bill says: "12. Every member who has contravened, is found contravening... may be suspended from duty by the commissioner". In our opinion, this should be replaced by the wording used by the Commission des normes du travail du Québec: "must take the necessary steps". We believe the bill does not have teeth and must be strengthened.

Paragraph 20.2(1)(l) says, and I quote: "The commissioner may establish procedures to investigate and resolve disputes relating to alleged harassment by a member". This should be replaced by the following: "The commissioner shall establish procedures to investigate and resolve disputes relating to alleged harassment by a member...".

The bill should describe in greater detail procedures that the commissioner must follow in cases of harassment complaints. That should be a stand-alone provision in the bill rather than a subsection.

In short, the will to increase the RCMP's accountability is a good thing. However, this increase should involve the RCMP's duties and obligations, not its rights. In other words, the commissioner would receive too much discretionary power. If any recourse implemented is to be effective, complaints of harassment in the workplace must be dealt with as an obligation and not an option.

October 23rd, 2012 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Minister. You are starting to be part of the furniture at our committee. We appreciate that.

We were all very pleased to be able to support Bill C-37. I think that all of us here in this room agree that victims should be compensated properly. There are huge needs in that respect. This bill might be a step in the right direction. At the same time, we have to make sure that we are not creating other problems by passing this bill.

I am sure you have followed the debates on Bill C-37 at second reading. You were able to see that the official opposition is concerned about the loss of judicial discretion in specific cases when the accused had to demonstrate that they were unable to pay. We have some questions about that. You briefly touched on it in your presentation.

Is it because it seems that it is not imposed, almost automatically? Have you been able to study the reason? Is it because many of the accused had legal aid and the court perhaps concluded that they would be unable to pay as a result? Has your department been able to look into this matter? Was it because the estimated surcharges have not materialized?

October 23rd, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I think the personal observation based on Bill C-21 as written, and even with what you propose here, is that if you are an independent candidate, you're seriously disadvantaged. I'll just make that remark as an opener. I'm not asking for a comment.

Mr. Mayrand, do you know whether banks and other financial institutions are comfortable with the provisions of Bill C-21? Ultimately, they are going to be deciding whether or not to grant a loan, in situations that may become public knowledge.

Bill C-45—Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

October 19th, 2012 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations and I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the House recognize that the provisions of Bill C-45 dealing with members' pensions should be enacted as quickly as possible, and passed without further debate;

That Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be divided into two bills: Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, and Bill C-46, an act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act; and

That Bill C-46 be composed of

(a) clauses 475 to 514 of Bill C-45, as it is presently composed,

(b) a clause, inserted before all of the other clauses, to provide that “This act may be cited as the Pension Reform Act”, and

(c) a clause, inserted after all of the other clauses, to provide that “This act comes into force, or is deemed to have come into force, on January 1, 2013”;

That Bill C-46 be deemed to have been read the second time and deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read the third time and passed;

That Bill C-46 be composed of its remaining clauses;

That Bill C-45 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior to the adoption of this order;

That the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary; and

That Bills C-45 and C-46 be reprinted.

Combating Terrorism Act
Government Orders

October 19th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been consultations concerning the provisions of the second budget bill dealing with members' pensions. I hope to receive the unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. It is a slightly edited version of what was proposed by the Liberal House leader yesterday.

I move that the House recognize that the provisions of Bill C-45 dealing with members' pensions should be enacted as quickly as possible and passed without further debate; that Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be divided into two bills: Bill C-45, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures; and Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act; and that Bill C-46 be composed of: (a) clauses 475 to 553 of Bill C-45 as it is presently composed; (b) a clause inserted before all of the other clauses to provide that this act may be cited as the pension reform act and; (c) a clause inserted after all of the other clauses to provide this act comes into force or is deemed to have come into force on January 1, 2013; that Bill C-46 be deemed to have been read the second time and deemed referred to committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read the third time and passed; that Bill C-45 be composed of the remaining clauses; that Bill C-45 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior the adoption of this order; that the law clerk and parliamentary counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary; and that Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 be reprinted.