Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services
Lisa Raitt Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- June 23, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- June 23, 2011 Passed That Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services, be concurred in at report stage.
- June 23, 2011 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole.
- June 23, 2011 Passed That this question be now put.
Continuation and Resumption of Rail Service Operations Legislation
May 28th, 2012 / 1:45 p.m.
Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour
Mr. Speaker, I am here today to ask the House to support the quick passage of an act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations.
As the House will recall, last June there was a three day strike by Air Canada's customer sales and service agents. I am glad to say that it was resolved by the parties, and the harm to Canadians was limited.
In June of 2011, our government introduced and passed the Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act because of the economic importance of reliable mail delivery.
Because the government took action, Canadian workers and businesses, as well as citizens, were spared the hardship that a prolonged interruption in mail would have caused. In March, the government passed an Act to Provide for the Continuation and Resumption of Air Service Operations to prevent a work stoppage at Air Canada involving the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Air Canada Pilots Association. This legislation protected the Canadian economy and the public.
Today, we are again faced with a work stoppage that could do enormous damage to our economy. Once again, we have to take measures to protect our national interests in this period of economic uncertainty.
Talks have failed to result in a new collective agreement between Canadian Pacific, CP Rail, and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, TCRC, which independently represents the running trades employees and the rail traffic controllers.
The work stoppage at CP Rail is causing confusion and doubt where stability and certainty are needed in our recovering economy. Stability and certainty are essential to keeping Canada in business. If my hon. colleagues were to ask their constituents, as I have asked mine, or if they were to ask almost anyone in Canada right now, they would hear what I have been hearing as well, that we cannot afford this work stoppage because the risks are too great. As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to act. Therefore, we have to take a stand for Canada's economy.
Like other industrialized economies around the world, Canada has faced challenging economic times. Our economy has weathered the global storm well. Our government is proud of its record for sheltering Canadians from the worst effects of the downturn and laying the foundation for a strong recovery. We all read the papers and know that our country is not immune to the changes in the world economy. There could be more turbulence. As of April 2012, our unemployment rate was 7.3%, a definite improvement from last year.
We need to be careful if we are to maintain our progress and promote economic growth. We cannot afford to have major labour disruptions. We have so much potential. A labour stoppage in any key sector of our economy would be a serious impediment to our growth and recovery. A work stoppage that detrimentally affects a major freight transportation sector is no exception. Rail is a vital cog in keeping Canada among the top performing world economies. Trade represents 35% of our GDP. In Canada, the rail transport service contributes significantly to the Canadian economy.
Let me provide some facts to make the point of how vital rail services and shipping are to the Canadian economy.
A 2009 report prepared by the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management estimates that four key Canadian bulk shipping industries, oilseed and grain farming, coal mining, wood products manufacturing, and pulp and paper and paper products manufacturing, contribute over $81 billion to Canada's GDP. These industries also account for nearly a million jobs.
The rail-based transportation system in Canada is complex and interconnects a range of stakeholders, such as shippers, terminal operators, transloaders, ports, shipping lines and trucks, which are all part of a very competitive supply chain. Problems occurring in one part of the supply chain can affect the stakeholders across it. An effective supply chain is critical to meeting the government's objectives related to strategic gateways and trade corridors, such as the Asia Pacific gateway, and is key to continuing our country's high economic success.
The Minister of Labour has heard from numerous stakeholders who are urging the government to ensure that this strike does not continue for any prolonged period of time. I would like to read just a few quotes from some of the correspondence that she has received from stakeholders.
The president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada wrote that, in the minerals and metals sector, experience has shown that a rail stoppage impacts the ability of companies to bring essential inputs to their mines and smelters, and to move finished products and byproducts to their destinations. The association requested that the government take action to head off this potential work stoppage before it damages the economy.
The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association jointly wrote, “CP Rail plays a vital role in the shipment of both parts and components into Ontario vehicle manufacturing facilities, as well as a significant role in the shipment and distribution of finished vehicles from ports of entry to local dealerships across the country...The integrated North American auto industry is presently experiencing a positive but fragile economic recovery.” Any disruption to CP Rail service will have an immediate and dramatic impact on its collective membership and their operations in Canada.
I can tell members that the Honda plant in my riding definitely reiterates this. We have a challenge ahead of us if we do not get the rail moving.
The Western Grain Elevator Association wrote that “this work stoppage will have a significant impact on the grain industy. Many of our elevator locations are serviced only by CPR. In the event of a work stoppage, these elevators will have no options available to them in the transportation of grain products. This will lead to the inability to supply our international customers and prohibit producers from delivering to those facilities. If we cannot at the very least move this product in a timely way to our customers, the associated lost opportunities and added costs will be significant.”
Finally, the Forest Products Association of Canada wrote to the minister and outlined the following:
As most of the industry’s mills are located in remote areas where rail service is the only viable transportation mode, other forms of ground transportation are either too costly or unavailable to provide our companies with relief, making our sector particularly vulnerable to even the shortest disruptions in service.
The association wrote, “In addition, the industry does not have the capacity to stockpile finished product nor can it continue production without certain input materials. As a result, any service disruption will undoubtedly lead to the industry incurring significant cost and will quickly result in mills shutting down temporarily.”
Some companies have already had to shut down production lines or lay off workers. Already the effects of the strike are hurting businesses, and it is not even a week in.
I have quoted from just a small handful of stakeholders and businesses that have called on the government to act quickly to prevent a prolonged strike that would do damage and have significant effects on the Canadian economy. We need to act now to protect Canadian jobs and the Canadian economy. Let us consider what this work stoppage means to businesses. We have heard quotes from a few of them that by stopping the trains, the strike is negatively impacting our trade opportunities. Businesses are losing sales at home and abroad.
Will businesses be able to recoup these sales? There is no way to know. Are businesses able to adapt and find alternative solutions? Again, we cannot say.
Work stoppages create ripple effects, or to put it another way, a chain reaction of damage that has far-reaching effects, possibly creating layoffs all the way down the line. Even a short work stoppage is very costly. Lost income, lost opportunities, lost jobs are all the unintended consequences of a work stoppage. They are devastating for both workers and businesses in a time of economic challenge. The losses caused by this shutdown of rail services are not only borne by the railway and its employees. They are borne by hard-working Canadians and their families all across the country. Jobs are at stake. The viability of businesses is on the line. We cannot afford to let this continue.
Let me say a few words on the recent history of collective bargaining at CP Rail. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference independently represents 4,200 running trades employees and about 220 rail traffic controllers. Their collective agreements expired on December 31, 2011. The TCRC started negotiating with CP Rail in October 2011.
On February 17, 2012 the Minister of Labour received notices of dispute from the employer regarding both the running trades employees and the rail traffic controllers. The main issues in this round of bargaining deal with pensions, health care benefits and working conditions. The parties were released from the conciliation process on May 1, 2012 and acquired the right to strike or lockout on May 23, 2012.
On May 16, the Minister of Labour offered the representatives from CP Rail and the TCRC an extended mediation process to help them resolve issues and reach agreements. Again on May 22 the Minister met with both parties in an attempt to encourage and facilitate an agreement. Regrettably, this additional assistance was not accepted. On May 23 the work stoppage began.
I want to inform this House that our government would like nothing more than for the parties to reach an agreement on their own. However, the Minister of Labour has offered the parties the tools provided through the Canada Labour Code, but to no avail. These disputes have gone on too long. The government has not stepped in prematurely. As I said earlier, the parties have been asking for assistance from the labour program since February and they have received assistance. However, it has not resulted in a collective agreement. This work stoppage will have a significant effect on Canada's trade. Millions of Canadians are affected directly or indirectly.
There is more at stake here than the issues on the bargaining table. CP Rail and the TCRC, independently representing the running trades employees and rail traffic controllers, have had ample time to reach a negotiated agreement on their own. They will also be afforded all the tools available to rebuild and improve labour relations, such as preventive mediation services offered by the labour program. This work stoppage has gone on long enough, and for every day that it continues, our economy and trade relationships are jeopardized.
I ask my fellow parliamentarians to stand up for Canadians and support the motion and the legislation. We need to move forward and take action so that we can ensure that Canadian jobs and the Canadian economy are protected.
Opposition Motion--Closure and Time Allocation
Business of Supply
November 25th, 2011 / 10:50 a.m.
Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL
Mr. Speaker, there was some confusion earlier about the fact that no bill has received royal assent. For the record, since the election, Bill C-2, C-3, C-6, C-8, C-9, several bills have received royal assent. I do not know where that confusion is coming from.
Nonetheless, I would like to read what I think is the quintessential quote about how we should uphold the principles of debate in the House and that every member of Parliament willing to speak on an issue should have his or her say:
The role of each and every individual in the Chamber is to have an opportunity to stand up and debate legislation. If we want Canadians to have faith in this institution and in the relevance of parliament, we must be able to debate intelligently and to make suggestions, not just to take a wrecking ball approach but to put forward thoughtful suggestions and thoughtful input into legislation.
Who said that? The Minister of National Defence said that several years ago. At the time he was complaining that 30% of the bills were time allocated. The Conservatives are now up to 50%. Half of the bills have been subject to time allocation.
Message from the Senate
June 26th, 2011 / 8:50 p.m.
The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend Her Honour, the deputy of His Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber, Her Honour was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mega-trials)--Chapter 16.
Bill S-1001, An Act respecting Queen's University at Kingston.
It being 8:50 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 19, 2011, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 8:50 p.m.)
Message from the Senate
June 26th, 2011 / 8:35 p.m.
The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin
I have the honour to inform the House that messages have been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills:
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 6:50 p.m.
Jack Harris St. John's East, NL
Madam Chair, there is an awful lot wrong with the bill. In fact, everything from the title, which is An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services, to the coming into force, the last clause, is wrong.
The title is wrong because this is not an act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services. That could be done with a phone call.
The worst clause in the bill, however, is clause 15, which imposes on the postal workers a wage rate less than the employer had put on the table in the course of collective bargaining.
I have not heard members opposite join the chorus for the remarks of my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst, and nobody cares. Nobody cares about workers. Nobody cares about workers' rights.
Let me say who does care. The principle of free collective bargaining is something that divides societies that are free from those societies that are authoritarian and controlled. If we consider authoritarian societies, dictators, societies that do not have free elections, they do not have free trade unions either. Workers do not have the right to bargain collectively.
In Canada the right to bargain collectively is a constitutionally protected right. It is contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is part of the International Labour Organization, the treaty into which this country has entered. It is something that we take very seriously.
There is no greater principle within the right to bargain collectively than the duty to bargain in good faith. In good faith the employer of the postal workers, Canada Post Corporation, put on the table a wage offer that it was prepared to pay to workers from the $281 million worth of profit that Canada Post made last year. To bargain with its employees, it put forth what it thought was a reasonable proposal to increase the wages of the workers, but what have we here? We have a clause in which the government imposes itself inside this good faith bargaining, this foundation of a free society, and says, “No, the government is going to force the workers to take less. We are going to decide what we think you should be paid. Never mind what was put on the table by a process of free collective bargaining”.
The minister just repeated what the Prime Minister said, so I will not blame her as she is just doing what her boss has said. She said this is a wage that was bargained freely by the largest public sector unions. Let us go back to that discussion in 2008 when this wage we are talking about was on the table, as it was called. It was not on the table. What was on the table was legislation proposed by the government to take away the right to strike for all public sector workers. Remember that? It was in the fall of 2008.
Those wage rates were offered for one day and if workers did not accept the wages within one day they would be reduced. Yes, they were accepted. There were not bargained freely and fairly over the course of negotiations. They were accepted with a gun to the head of the public sector workers in this country.
The Minister of Finance knows that members of one group said no. What did they get? That group received less. That is the kind of bargaining that the government entered into with the public sector workers in 2008 that produced the rates that are in this particular clause.
I am not surprised that the previous speaker talked about who is next because that is what everyone is asking. If this is what is going to happen to free collective bargaining in Canada under this regime, who is next? The government has contempt for the process of collective bargaining. It has contempt for the process of this constitutionally protected right that the Canadians are supposed to enjoy.
If members opposite think that nobody cares, they are wrong, and the people of Canada will be telling them that they are wrong.
I ask all hon. members, even those over there who think no one cares, to recognize that people do care and they do want to have these rights and do believe in free collective bargaining. I see the doubtful faces over there and I hear a few remarks that something is wrong with the idea that one can sit down and negotiate a wage, that an employer and employees can actually sit down at the bargaining table and negotiate wages and put an offer on the table and have it respected. That is something Canadians have come to enjoy and expect.
The government has no respect for that and it wants to insert its own version of a wage rate into a collective agreement regardless of what the employer in this particular case offered through free and fair collective bargaining.
This is a fundamental right that is being taken away, a fundamental change in the relationship between employers and employees. The question remains of who is next if the government is not prepared to accept the notion of free collective bargaining and takes away from employees what the employer has in fact offered. It demonstrates how much contempt it has for the collective bargaining process and for the rights of workers.
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 6:20 p.m.
Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC
Madam Chair, I would urge members of this committee to think about even one small change in the way Bill C-6 is now drafted. This is reasonable. It is the Canada Labour Code, and greater flexibility in the hands of the arbitrator makes so much sense. I would hope that committee members might rethink this and that we would not just vote as a bloc again.
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 6:15 p.m.
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 5:10 p.m.
The Chair Denise Savoie
Order, please. I would like to open this session of the committee of the whole on Bill C-6 by making a short statement about the proceedings.
This is the first time many hon. members will be participating in a debate like this, and I would like to explain how we are going to proceed.
The rules of debate are as follows.
No member shall speak for more than 20 minutes at a time. Speeches must be strictly relevant to the terms of the clause under consideration. There is no formal period for questions and comments. Members may use their time to speak or to ask questions, and the responses will be counted in the time allotted to that member. Motions do not need a seconder, and members may speak more than once. Finally, members need not be in their own seat to be recognized, just to make my job a little easier.
The committee will now proceed with the clause-by-clause study of the bill.
Before we begin, I would like to ask those members who have amendments to please bring them to the table.
(On clause 2)
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 4 p.m.
Sana Hassainia Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to take a few moments to recognize all of my colleagues who are here in the House and have been up for 30 or 40 hours now, who are here to continue to fight for our party’s values and to defend the interests of Canadian workers and families.
We all had events planned in our ridings for Quebec’s national holiday. Yesterday, my colleague from Hamilton-Est—Stoney Creek was supposed to celebrate his 11th wedding anniversary with his wife. My colleague from Newton—Delta-Nord was supposed to spend time with her family, who made a special trip from England to see her. We all want and need to go home to our families. Our families need us, but Canada’s families need us more.
An even greater need has brought us here to the House, and that is the need to fight together in an effort to make this government understand that its place is beside workers and that it has a duty to render a fair and just verdict.
I would also like to pay tribute to workers across Canada who are fighting for their rights. Postal workers are fighting not only for their own rights, but also for the rights of all Canadian workers.
Since the debate started, I have heard Conservative members talk about this being a “joke”. Is that how they see our commitment to defending the interests of our fellow Canadians? For them, it is a joke? Is there anything more important than being here trying to find a solution that both parties can agree to?
We have all spoken at least once to say what we think. We have heard heated, poetic and passionate speeches. Some members explained very clearly what makes Bill C-6 unlawful. Others proposed specific solutions that both parties could have agreed to. But nothing changes. It seems as though the members opposite, already blinded by their partisan purposes, do not want to listen to us, do not want to understand Canadians and, most of all, do not want to change their minds.
They continue to cling to reasoning that defies logic. They will not let go of their beliefs, however faulty they are. But I have noticed one single half-positive point, one little sign of evolution: the hon. members opposite now dare to utter the word “lockout” in place of the word “strike”. But they just mutter it under their breath, almost whispering it, as if they wanted no one to hear them say it, as if it were a swear word. But it is not a word that came from the workers; it came from Canada Post. The hon. members opposite must get used to that idea.
They would have us believe that this lockout was imposed by the union. How ironic.
How often have my colleagues and I tried to explain the difference between a strike and a lockout, between a rotating strike and a lockout?
Let me sum it up for those who have not yet grasped the difference. A rotating strike is a partial work stoppage. Let me explain “partial” very clearly. Canada Post workers decided that, in order not to harm the Canadian economy and in order for Canadians to continue receiving the service to which they are entitled, they were going to keep delivering the mail. The strike moved, in a symbolic way, from one municipality to another. In no way did the rotating strike put the country's economy in peril, since the mail continued to be delivered. The aim of the strike was simply to make people aware of the unacceptable conditions that the employer wanted to impose. It was not meant to endanger small and medium-sized business activity nor was it meant to keep cheques from seniors or from those receiving employment insurance benefits.
A lockout, on the other hand, is a work stoppage imposed by the employer. On June 3, Canada Post decided to end mail service and to put padlocks on the doors. It held its employees hostage, employees who wanted to continue delivering the mail at the same time as they were demanding their rights. But above all, Canada Post is holding Canadians hostage, since Canadians can no longer receive their mail.
Striking is a right for all workers. They have the right to negotiate their working conditions. It is not up to the government to step in for the employer, especially when we know what its goal is.
How can we possibly suggest such conditions to the workers? What image do we want to give to our young people? Canada Post employees are there every day. They accept working conditions that are increasingly difficult. They carry heavy bags that cut into their shoulders. They collapse under the weight of the mail, have to fight inclement weather and heat waves, and sometimes walk for hours. Should they also accept unfavourable wages? Why? Because their employer is not profitable enough?
Still, let us recall that Canada Post's most recent revenues are estimated at over $281 million for the year. Let us also recall that the CEO of Canada Post received the modest sum of $497,000 for his good and loyal service, and that he gets a bonus of 33%, on top of his annual salary. And we are supposed to believe that Canada Post is suffering from the recession and that that is the only reason driving the cuts to its employee's benefits? No. The real reason is that this employer knows that it is supported by the government, and so many other employers will follow suit if we do not put an end to this type of thing immediately,
The employer proposed certain salary increases during the negotiations, and then the government interfered and put forward a contract that offered less. This contract is, quite simply, unfair. It not only fails to meet the employees’ demands, but also undercuts the salary offer made by the employer. What kind of world are we living in?
It is neither the government’s role nor its responsibility to impose such contracts. What the government is proposing is, quite simply, unilateral and irresponsible legislation. It flouts the right to negotiate a collective agreement. The government’s actions do not give the two parties an opportunity to properly negotiate an agreement.
The government should not interfere in this conflict, or in any other similar conflict. This debate is not only about the Canada Post issue: more than that, it is about the right of workers to negotiate with their employer.
Canadians fought long and hard for a fair and just work environment. They fought heart and soul for decent wages and basic benefits so that they could provide for their families.
Locking out these employees and forcing them to accept a contract while trying to take away their hard-earned savings will set us back many years and create a dangerous precedent. Canada Post employees refuse to be the victims of an unfair clawback scheme that will take money out of their pockets. They refuse to have their rights undermined, as well as the rights of all the people who work for other large employers and friends of the government.
They refuse to have their rights trampled on, but they are ready to go back to work. They are ready to start delivering mail to their fellow Canadians again. They just want to be treated fairly. They want to be treated in a manner befitting their work. They are asking neither for the moon nor for favourable treatment. They are asking only to be paid fairly for their work. They want to be able to feed their children and provide for their families. They want to be able to retire without worrying about whether they can make ends meet.
How will the government explain to young people who want to work at Canada Post that they are welcome to work there, but they will be paid a lower salary than employees with more seniority who do the exact same job? Are we not endangering the Canadian economy by acting in this way?
Inevitably, our young people will navigate towards companies that respect their employees, if there are any left, with this government. How will Canada's economy be able to recover when we can no longer replace workers who have retired? Is it the government's intention to jeopardize a service as essential as the post office?
The Conservatives will have to explain to us the long-term viability of such a contract. If they are really concerned about Canada's economy, they should stop telling us to pass this bill and go home. Let them make an enlightened decision for once and end the lockout to allow Canada's economy to keep running. Let them end the lockout to allow both parties to resume negotiations and come to an agreement that will satisfy everyone.
Canadians are being held hostage and they know who is doing it. Not Canada Post employees, but their employer who, together with the government, is attacking the rights and the advances that our parents and grandparents fought for. That is why Canadians support the workers at Canada Post. Why do they support them? In a word, because they know that they could be the next on the list if they let the government get its way.
The quality of life and the social justice that we enjoy in this country are indisputable rights that we will defend to the bitter end. On May 2, we were given a mandate to represent our constituents, and we will do so with honour and respect. We will stay here. We are ready to go all the way. We will stay on our feet, without complaining, and we will continue to fight for all the workers in Canada who are counting on us to represent them in this House.
Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
June 25th, 2011 / 3:45 p.m.
Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL
Mr. Speaker, allow me to join with my colleague in saying that information has just been received that a member of the Canadian armed forces has been found dead in Afghanistan. We sincerely convey our deepest regrets and sincere sympathies to the family.
As we progress with the debate on Bill C-6, it is evident there is a flurry of activity on the floor of the House of Commons. It appears we may be moving into committee of the whole very soon. The debate itself at second reading may be collapsing soon and there may be amendments that may come forward.
Has the New Democratic Party been able to achieve any consensus with the government that it will accept any of the amendments which the NDP may be in the process of proposing? If there has been no consensus achieved, I am wondering why we are doing this at this point in time. From a purely tactical point of view, would it not have been better to try this at 4 a.m. when a tactical advantage could be achieved? If the NDP is doing this in the middle of the day, what exactly is the game plan?