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

Canadian Forces Ceremony
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, question period is over. The hon. member had a chance to ask that question during question period. It is not a point of order. Perhaps it is a matter he can ask the minister.

1997 Postal Mediation Costs
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, this morning, in my remarks, I indicated in the question aspect of my debate that the cost of the 1997 mediation arising from the legislation at the time was in the millions. I was asked for further clarification and I have that now.

The cost of the mediation arbitration process in 1997 was $2,321,952.65. Each party was charged half. In this case, the employer paid its half. However, litigation had to be resorted to by the Government of Canada in order to obtain a decision rendered in 2004 to recover the monies from the union.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this would normally be the end of the current session. As we know, the Parliament of Canada can do as it pleases. Last Thursday, we sat as though it were a Friday. Tomorrow, Friday, we will sit as though it were still Thursday. In fact, this could end up being the first-ever week of four Thursdays.

The government has mastered the art of this type of transformation. It can turn losers into winners. If someone loses in an election and is not chosen to create legislation in the House, they can always be appointed to the Senate and sit as a parliamentarian. During question period, the Conservatives spoke about the importance of respecting the Quebec nation. Yet tomorrow is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and they still want us to sit.

With all of these contradictions—in particular, the fact that they decided that the best way to monitor public spending is to fire those who monitor public spending and that they locked out workers and are now blaming the workers for not working—are there any more surprises like this in store for us this summer?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments from the member for Outremont. He did speak of respect. I hope he will take a look at his comments, have in mind Standing Order 18, and reflect upon how his comments fit into Standing Order 18.

Since today is the last scheduled sitting of the House before members return to their constituencies for the summer, my answer will be relatively brief.

When this bill is passed, the House will adjourn until September 19.

As for the business of the House upon our return in September, I will advise my counterparts of the government's plans closer to that time.

In case this is the last time I am on my feet this summer, let me thank the staff of the House and the clerks at the table for their support and their usual kind assistance, in addition to the pages, who I acknowledged fully yesterday.

Finally, I thank all hon. members for the very productive sitting we have had this month. A great deal has been accomplished in just about 12 sitting days. I hope they will all have happy and productive summers with their constituents.

Documents Regarding Afghan Detainees
Points of Order
Oral Questions

June 23rd, 2011 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the House leader why he did not invite me to the technical briefing yesterday when he communicated to me about Afghan detainees?

Documents Regarding Afghan Detainees
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

That is not quite a point of order, but I see the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs is rising to respond. I will allow that.

Documents Regarding Afghan Detainees
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am told that he and his party were invited to a briefing held yesterday by senior officials responsible for the transfer of Taliban prisoners.

I am told invites were in the opposition lobby. One member of the opposition did attend the briefing, the member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. We had an ambassador there who was familiar with the file. We had members from the Canadian Forces to provide detailed briefings for the members.

Regrettably only one member did attend.

Documents Regarding Afghan Detainees
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

If there are any further questions, I encourage members to take that up with the minister. It is not a point of order.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to represent my government in its support of Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services.

This legislation, once enacted, will bring an end to the work stoppage at Canada Post. The labour dispute between Canada Post and CUPW relates to the renewal of collective agreements covering some 50,000 workers, including plant and retail employees, letter carriers and mail service couriers.

It is always better when two parties can reach a collective agreement at the bargaining table without the need for Parliament's intervention. The best solution in any labour dispute is one where the parties resolve differences on their own.

The Minister of Labour has been clear and has, at every occasion, encouraged both parties to reach an agreement on their own. In this case, however, the parties are too far apart, and that is too bad. The last thing we want to see is the situation deteriorate and see business—

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Documents Regarding Afghan Detainees
Points of Order
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for Brant. I am told that the copies that were provided to each party in the House, the 4,200 pages documents, included an invitation to attend the briefing. Officials were there. It was on top of the binders that were provided to each party.

I thought that would add further clarification, and I thought you, Mr. Speaker, would want to know it, too.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was at the point of saying that the last thing we would like to see is this situation deteriorate any further and see businesses fail, unemployment increase and our economy go into a tailspin. Canada Post, a crown corporation, has more than 70,000 full and part-time employees. It is one of the largest employers in Canada. Every business day, it delivers service to 14 million addresses. Canada Post spends about $3 billion a year on goods and services and it contributes $6.6 billion to the country's GDP.

The Canada Post direct marketing sector accounts for $1.4 billion of its revenue. During the recent economic recession, this sector suffered financial losses. So many businesses still rely on Canada Post to get their business done and connect with their clients and customers across the country and internationally. While many aspects of business can often be accomplished online, not everything can be done in the absence of the mail. Mail service is still essential to the functioning of many small and medium-sized businesses and even large corporations.

Canada Post provides a crucial connection for Canadians in rural and remote areas.

Seniors are finding this work stoppage very difficult to deal with. Many of my colleagues have heard from seniors in their constituencies who would like to see an end to this work stoppage. A prolonged work stoppage at Canada Post may well affect some of the most vulnerable sectors of our economy.

How would Canada Post be affected as a viable business? Over the past decade, with the growth of the Internet, email, electronic billing and electronic funds transfers, there has been a corresponding decline in personal mail. However, small and medium-sized businesses still rely on the postal service for direct marketing, billing and filling orders. It is this sector of the business that could be jeopardized with a long-term work stoppage. Right now there is co-dependence. Now is not the time to put them at risk.

What is at stake is our economic recovery. All the job losses incurred during the global economic recession have been recovered. Our government has a responsibility to act on behalf of all Canadians to ensure the momentum continues. We have a process in place to deal with labour conflicts in the federal domain. It is called the Canada Labour Code and it has been followed each step of the way in this conflict.

The collective agreement covering CUPW and Canada Post expired on January 2011. Both parties have been bargaining since October 2010.

When those talks stayed at an impasse, a reconciliation officer was appointed. Throughout the month of May, a mediator from the labour program's Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service met frequently with the parties. The Minister of Labour even met with both party leaders. Despite all these efforts at mediation and conciliation, CUPW announced, on May 30, its intent to strike. On June 3, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers walked off the job. On June 15, 2011, the employer declared a lockout.

The postal workers have now been without a contract since January 2011, despite many rounds of bargaining. Of course, there are always cases when collective bargaining hits an impasse and the parties involved reach a stalemate. When this happens, the parties can request the Minister of Labour to appoint an arbitrator.

It is certainly not the preference of the government to intervene in labour disputes. Our government respects the right of free collective bargaining, which includes the right to strike or a lockout. However, when employers and unions choose a course of action that has harmful effects on the economy and the country as a whole, then it is incumbent on Parliament to stand up for the country and to protect our economic recovery.

That is why our government has introduced Bill C-6. We are taking decisive action on behalf of all Canadians.

What would the act do? It would impose a four-year contract and new pay rate increases. That would mean a 1.75% increase as of February 1, 2011, 1.5% as of February 2012, 2% as of February 2013 and 2% as of February 2014.

It also means, for final offer selection, a binding mechanism for all outstanding matters. In making the selection of a final offer, the arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries. It will also strive to ensure the short and long-term economic viability and competitiveness of Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and the sustainability of the pension plan.

The terms and conditions of employment must also take into account: (a) that the solvency ratio for the pension plan must not decline as a direct result of the new collective agreement; and (b) that the Canada Post Corporation must, without recourse or undue increases in postal rates, operate efficiently, improve productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.

As we recover from the economic downturn, it is more important than ever that we encourage co-operative and productive workplaces.

Let us recognize that this has not been an easy situation for the postal workers and for Canada Post. Our hope is that both parties can now turn this around and make the most of this agreement. I would urge them to focus on making Canada Post relevant to Canada for the 21st century.

I also ask my hon. colleagues to join us in supporting the bill.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend from Brant for speaking very calmly and rationally about what Parliament is being asked to deal with today. We have a situation that none of us, I believe, wanted. We certainly do not have a situation that the government wanted to step into.

However, we do have two parties that clearly cannot come to an arrangement. They have been negotiating since this contract expired in January. We have a very difficult situation on our hands today, with millions of Canadians clearly affected by this.

Perhaps my hon. friend could share a bit more from his riding's perspective. I have been to Brant, but I do not know the riding particularly well. Perhaps he could give some more specific examples of the types of individuals who have been directly affected by the fact that mail is not flowing.