House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-64.

Topics

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that I endorse the principle of labour-management consultation and co-operation on matters relating to the workplace under federal jurisdiction.

We all know that working together brings out the best results for all concerned. This is what we are trying to achieve in the wording of clause 15 of Bill C-64 as it has been reported back from the standing committee.

Let me read the introductory portion of what clause 15 currently says:

Every employer shall consult with its employees' representatives by inviting the representatives to provide their views-

Bill C-64 also explicitly recognizes the role of bargaining agents in the workplace. I quote further from clause 15:

Where employees are represented by a bargaining agent, the bargaining agent shall participate in a consultation under subsection (1).

The above provisions underline the kind of environment we all want to have in the workplace.

We do not want management to be making arbitrary decisions without consulting the interest of employees. We want the employees to be fully involved in all matters that involve them, be they health and safety issues or employment equity issues.

We want to have a policy of inclusion followed, not one of exclusion. We believe that everyone in the workplace should have the opportunity to put forward their ideas and views. In line with the entire spirit of employment equity is the elimination of barriers.

The standing committee recognized the value of this type of consultation when it reviewed the bill introduced at first reading. The testimony they heard from the witnesses at their hearings led them to strengthen the provisions. The provisions currently in the bill have already been strengthened from what was originally proposed. All one has to do is to read further in clause 15:

Every employer and its employees' representatives shall collaborate in the preparation, implementation and revision of the employer's employment equity plan.

The standing committee added the concept of collaboration. This goes beyond the concept of consultation. However the standing committee recognized that the concept of collaboration could not interfere with employers' obligations under the act.

It is for the individual employer who has specific obligations under the act that there are provisions for non-compliance when the employer meets these obligations. That is why there is a very important provision at the end of clause 15:

Consultation under subsection (1) and collaboration under subsection (3) are not forms of co-management.

We need to recognize that the responsibility for implementing employment equity in the workplace is that of management. The

current wording of the bill provides for this. That is why I have so many problems with the wording of Motion No. 7. We have to be very careful in considering the implications of the proposed amendment.

If adopted, the amendment would require the employer and its employees' representatives to implement and revise the employment equity plan jointly. In a perfect world perhaps this would work, but we must recognize that we are still trying to achieve a perfect world, as my colleagues from the Reform Party tell me on a daily basis. This is one reason there is need for an employment equity act and this is one reason the proposed amendment goes too far.

A number of problems would result if the motion were adopted and the act subsequently proclaimed into law. Employers could try to evade their responsibilities by saying that progress is being stalled by an unco-operative bargaining agent. Presumably there would be a call for a compliance officer to intervene, but there are no enforceable obligations on bargaining agents in the legislation. There would nothing a compliance officer could do in a case where there are bad relations between labour and management, perhaps as a result or in connection with an industrial dispute.

Employment equity is related to the human resources management field and to the hiring and promotion processes. These are traditionally considered to be areas reserved to management. We have to recognize this reality.

Again I reinforce the purpose of the act as set out in section 2:

The purpose of this act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.

In summary the purpose of the act is to achieve equality in the workplace and to correct the conditions and disadvantages experienced by certain groups. Bill C-64, as currently worded, provides the appropriate balance between employee participation, management powers and obligations. That is why we should not adopt the motion.

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Davenport-nuclear tests.

Employment Equity Act
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I should like to speak to Motion No. 7 that is before us.

I congratulate the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve who has been an excellent member of the committee on human rights which I had the privilege of chairing and which looked into bill before the House today. The member made a lot of useful contributions to the committee. I am glad he affixed his signature to the majority report.

There are still sentiments the particular member would like to continue to advance. I respect his need to see to it that employees' representatives be at the management table. Although he indicated that the amendment would not result in co-management, I think there are grave doubts and concerns about the amendment. That is why the majority of committee members saw to it that it would not happen.

Why was that? It was because one of the underlying principles of the bill was a balanced approach to the setting of plans and the implementation of the employment equity plan. In that so-called balanced approach we must ensure that as we invoke obligations for employers we do not provide them with unnecessary' onerous and impractical burdens. Were the employees to be given this right despite the disclaimer it is very conceivable that it can be construed as a co-management approach. Certainly we feel it will add a real burden for businesses in particular.

In recognition of the contribution of the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve we amended the bill to see to it that employers and employees collaborate and consult in the preparation of the plan. We would have liked to have seen the employees' representatives being in on the co-management approach. In the spirit of co-operation at committee level we saw to it that employers would provide information to the employees about the purpose of the employment equity measures of the bill to be undertaken to implement a given employment equity plan.

The committee also made the point that the bill would not require public availability of employment equity plans which, to be effective, would contain confidential and proprietary information on the part of businesses. Every member of the House would like to see to it that we do not divulge what businesses feel are their proprietary properties and therefore necessary to ensure their competitive advantage in the business world.

We feel we must reject the amendment. In effect it would take the prerogative of management from employers. It would impose an impractical burden on them. Since the act in its totality imposes that legal obligation only on employers for failure to set and adopt an employment equity plan, it is only fair that this kind of

responsibility rests solely with employers where the legal obligation rests.

I can conceive of one possibility, for example. In the process of the joint approach to the development of the plan the bargaining agent for the employees, for reasons not related to the implementation of the equity plan, could stall or delay the finalization of the plan for reasons other than related to the employment equity plan. It would delay what we would like to have happen. On that basis we have to continue to retain the prerogative of the act to give the obligation, responsibility and privilege to employers.

Briefly, again to put into context the motion before us, why it is important that we not overburden employers? In the beginning the employment equity concept in Canada started as a consequence of bias, of prejudice against employers. Those instances happened before the sixties and in the sixties the practice was recognized. Human rights legislation was enacted to potentially correct the biases and discrimination.

It proved to be those approaches were not sufficient and so came the second phase in the evolution of the concept, that there exists systemic barriers in the system, unintended bias one may call it, systemic discrimination, but not without malice.

To solve the problem of systemic barriers it is important to get the full co-operation of employers and the business side. It is important that we do not introduce any kind of provision in the act that businesses will see as an additional burden.

Canada should be proud today that in so far as the employment equity legislation is concerned we nearly have unanimous support from the business community at large. We should thank that community for its confidence in the initiative of the government. We should continue to recognize that privilege. If we work on a co-operative and collaborative basis, the more we will achieve. Canada is unique in that regard. I can sense the hon. member is now agreeing to the arguments I am proposing.

We welcome the contribution of the member, but I feel we should reject the motion for the reasons I have indicated. We need the full provisions of the employment equity law in Canada and we need to reinforce it very strongly. Now that we have extended the coverage and now that we have invoked an enforcement mechanism, the world is looking at us as a model. Contrary to an earlier amendment from the third party, we have embarked upon a new milestone, the further evolution of the concept of employment equity.

As I said earlier in the debate on another motion, the committee in its wisdom respecting employment equity made a commitment to merit. I think even Mr. Speaker is smiling at the beauty of this report.

I ask members to reject this motion.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-93, an act to amend the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Cultural Property Export And Import Act
Government Orders

October 3rd, 1995 / 4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-93, an act to amend the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the House will now proceed to the recorded division on the motion.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe members would agree that those who voted on the previous motion, the main motion for second reading of Bill C-93, be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this motion.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform members will vote against the motion, except for those who might wish to vote otherwise.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats present will vote yea.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I vote yea.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting for the motion.

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

Oceans Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)