House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:20 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clarify that this is a lockout and not a strike. I would like the member's caucus to make it clear to Canadians that this is a lockout, that the government has put the locks on the doors of Canada Post, and that the government can take them off anytime it wants to.

I would like to remind my hon. colleagues of those facts. I would like to remind Canadians that it is a Conservative government that is preventing Canada Post employees from going back to work.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, prior to my question, I just want to join with the member for Winnipeg South in recognizing the Winnipeg Jets as the formal name of our NHL hockey franchise, something that many Manitobans wanted to see.

The question I have for the member is in regard to whether or not the NDP would maybe support the amendment that would take out the clause dealing with the amount of money being suggested for Canada Post employees. I assume that they would support it given the fact that at one point a number of weeks back there was an agreement with Canada Post that would have seen a better pay increase.

Would the member support an amendment of that nature?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:20 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague knows that Canada Post employees are ready to go back to work right now. I think my hon. colleague is also aware that we cannot discuss this matter right now.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:25 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Winnipeg North has just spoken about wages, and the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles also spoke about working conditions. I spoke to the union representative in my riding yesterday, who said that there had been a 1,000% increase in work-related injuries after their assignments had changed recently, requiring them to simultaneously deliver many things other than envelopes.

These work-related injuries are likely to increase, under the new conditions Canada Post would like to impose. Employees, therefore, have good reason to want to negotiate their working conditions.

I would like to ask my colleague whether, as the members on the other side of the House claim, we are opposed to the resumption of services or whether we are fighting against the manner in which this is being done and the fact that it is becoming impossible for workers to bargain for their working conditions.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:25 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is obvious that workers took legitimate means to claim their right to reasonable wages. It is really up to the government to put an end to this lockout and to allow workers to return to work.

I would like to add that when I speak to young people in my riding, they tell me that they are worried about their future because the bill in question is creating a very dangerous precedent. They have the impression that we are witnessing a downward slide.

I am worried for the young people in my riding as well as for future workers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great intent to my hon. colleague across the way. I have numerous letters from my constituency as well. Postal workers are complaining that their union is not giving them an opportunity to vote on the offer that is on the table.

However, most importantly, I wonder if the opposition member actually understands that the longer this goes on, the more that businesses and Canadians will find alternate ways to deal with this work stoppage. That can only undermine the ability of Canada Post Corporation to go forward, which would undermine the ability of the CUPW workers to have a job.

I wonder if the member understands that the longer this drags on, the worse it is for everyone involved.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:25 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague when the government will be ready to put an end to this lockout and when the government will be ready to allow these workers to go back to work and keep serving Canadians the way they have been doing.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, sadly, I am rising to speak on Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services. It is important for us to continue to emphasize the importance of a healthy environment for fair and collective bargaining. This back-to-work legislation undermines that process.

Why do workers need to continue to have faith that they have the right to a fair collective bargaining process? It is about working conditions. It is about protecting those hard-won rights that workers for many years have fought for. It is about trust in the democratic process.

This country has a long history of needing to work toward protecting workers' rights, of needing to protect worker's health and safety. I want to provide a bit of history about why this is so important and why workers need to continue to have their rights protected.

I am from the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan. Tomorrow there is a miners heritage picnic put on by the South End Community Association. In part, this miners picnic is about remembering our history in Nanaimo—Cowichan and honouring the proud history of miners in contributing to the development of Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and other parts of the riding. I want to go back a bit in history and talk about the protection of workers' rights.

I have an article dated Friday, April 1, 2011, titled “Nanaimo is no stranger to deadly fires and disasters”. The article talks about what happened to workers when their rights were not protected and when they did not have the safe working conditions that are so important to them and to their families.

The article states:

A massive explosion had torn through Nanaimo's No.1 Esplanade mine, instantly killing dozens of men while leaving those trapped to die from carbon monoxide poisoning over the next few days. When rescuers finally made it inside, they found final messages to loved ones scrawled on shovels in coal dust; the miners had known they would never escape those dark caverns alive.

This tragedy on May 3, 1887 marked one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian history. In total, 153 men died....Local historians say it's important to never forget about these tragedies. They often highlight the need for better working conditions or improved regulations....The 1887 tragedy, caused when a spark ignited methane gas, had the highest death toll but several other mining disasters also resulted in numerous fatalities.

Seventy-seven miners died on Jan. 24, 1888 at the No.5 Wellington mine at Diver Lake when a miner-fired shot ignited gas or dust. Just over a decade later, 32 more miners were killed in an explosion at the No.2 West Mine at Extension; in 1918, 18 miners died when a mine collapsed near Protection Island.

We know that mining conditions in Canada have substantially improved since that time. We also know that in recent memory we had the Westray disaster, which resulted in the Westray mine bill in the House being brought forward over a number of years by Alexa McDonough until the House adopted it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I am trying to be very attentive, as I have been all day, listening to the speeches from across the way. I am wondering about the relevance. I did not know the debate was about mining. I thought it was about postal services.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member. Obviously there is a standing order that urges us to keep our remarks in the context of the question before us, and I am sure the hon. member is getting near that point.

Carry on.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the hon. member for that intervention because I was about to make the link.

This brings me forward to modern days. I was setting the context for the importance of the trade union movement in this country in terms of protecting workers with safe working conditions and fighting for regulations that keep workers safe. Here we are, fast-forwarded to modern day.

I have an email that states:

I would love somebody from the government side to comment on the increased levels of injury that have been documented in every province since the Postal Transformation was initiated a year ago...the new delivery system which was referred to earlier in a somewhat derisive way requires that one arm balance two bundles of mail while the other is needed to sort the mail while going from point of delivery to point of delivery. This new method of carrying the bundles effectively removes the free that was needed in the past to navigate up and down slippery stairs. This has contributed to more injuries while the restructures associated with lessening the work force has led to forced overtime which has contributed to increased injury levels.

The email goes on to say:

...I can assure you that at least 10% of the work force, at any given time, is either sick, injured, or on some kind of modified duty or disability related to the onerous workplace conditions.

In 1887 we had miners dying because of unsafe work practices. In modern day we still have workers injured or being killed on the job because of unsafe work practices.

It comes back to the importance of the trade union movement and a collective bargaining process that protects the rights of workers and continues to fight for the rights of workers to ensure that those conditions stay in place. I hope the member can see the relevance of continuing to protect these rights.

Now, other workers in Canada continue to be abused by their employers, but many employers in this country provide safe working conditions. They respect the labour standards in their particular provincial jurisdiction. I do understand that. However, some employers are terrible employers.

I want to turn to an article entitled “Abuse of foreign workers must be stopped, says labour group: Alberta government action needed in light of new criminal charges, says AFL” .

This is an article about some of the working conditions for some of the most vulnerable workers. They often do not have protection. They do not have the protection of a trade union. They do not have the protection of a collective bargaining process. Fundamental to part of what we are talking about today is the collective bargaining process, which is so important to the rights of workers in this country from coast to coast to coast.

In this particular article, dated April 16, 2011, it states:

News of criminal charges being laid in relation to welders and machinists from Poland and Ukraine working in Alberta is more evidence of widespread violation of employment laws and the abuse of foreign workers, says the province's largest labour group.

It goes on to state:

Foreign workers are vulnerable because they fear deportation and are not always aware of their rights.

It further states:

Last year, the NDP revealed government documents that showed 74 per cent of Alberta businesses hiring temporary foreign workers that were subject to inspection had violated the labour code.

It goes on:

Workers are charged thousands of dollars in illegal fees, often live in homes owned by employers or agencies who charge outrageous rents, are told to work long hours while being denied fair rates of pay--but are afraid to complain because their employer can lay them off and have them deported.

Of course, in this country right now, because they are temporary foreign workers they are not eligible to be covered by a collective bargaining unit. It is shameful that these kind of conditions, with two-tiered labour practices, are allowed to continue in this country.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers almost feels like a test case for the government. If it gets away with this, what is it saying to workers across this country in terms of being able to be protected by their union, by their collective bargaining process, by the understanding that they will continue to have those rights protected in this country?

Another case again concerns people coming from outside the country: “Caregivers urge 'wage theft' victims to go public”. We have a program here called a live-in caregiver program, and in some cases it is tantamount to slave labour.

There were a couple of cases recently where people went public because of the conditions they were working under. In this case, the claimant said she cared for an elderly woman and her two adult children with developmental disabilities for 10 years. In the last four years of working for them, she alleges that she was living with them and putting in--

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The member for Kitchener—Conestoga is rising on a point of order.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, a point of order. Earlier in my colleague's comments she was challenged about not getting to the point of the debate. She immediately linked it well, but I think she has lost the link again. I would ask her to please get back to the issue.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The Chair recognizes the fact that relevance is an issue and that at times members take detours or circuitous routes to the business at hand. I have every confidence that the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan can do that.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act
Government Orders

June 24th, 3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of this demonstrates that there continue to be working conditions in this country that need to be protected by the work the trade union movement does. It is important that New Democrats and others in the House continue to fight this back-to-work legislation, because it undermines the collective bargaining process.

We have heard from members opposite that this situation is undermining the economy and that we should support the legislation. I need to remind those members and others who are watching that what we have here is a situation where the workers were locked out. If there is that much concern for the economy, then these workers would be allowed to continue to work while the negotiation process went on.

I urge all members in the House to vote against Bill C-6.