Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001

An Act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal an Act and certain provisions that have expired, lapsed, or otherwise ceased to have effect

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Anne McLellan  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

April 12th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-43 is to make minor technical amendments and corrections to various statutes and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act.

The enactment would make technical corrections to the Access to Information Act, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act, and a number of acts that come under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Finance.

The government announced in December 1994 that it would streamline government agencies, boards and advisory bodies. Much of the so-called streamlining simply removed appointments from parliamentary scrutiny by what had been order-in-council appointments. Following the December 1994 announcement the board ceased operations on March 31, 1995.

This is the third time the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act has been before parliament. It was first introduced in June 1996 as Bill C-49 but did not get beyond second reading prior to the call of the election. The repeal was reintroduced as part of Bill C-44 in June 1998. Once again Bill C-44 did not get beyond second reading and was not reintroduced prior to the last election. The repeal of the act has had a low priority for the government as have all matters relating to the fishery.

The Fisheries Prices Support Act was passed in 1994 establishing the Fisheries Prices Support Board which was responsible for investigating sharp declines in fish prices and, where appropriate, recommending price support. The board was empowered to purchase fish products, to sell or otherwise dispose of these products, and to make deficiency payments to producers. The intent of the act was to protect fishermen against sharp declines in prices and consequent loss of income due to causes beyond the control of fishermen or the fishing industry.

The board has not undertaken any significant price support activities since 1982 except for the purchase of fish as food aid for distribution by CIDA.

Bill C-43 can be considered a hybrid of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act. Bill C-43 contains a number of provisions omitted from the draft of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, MSLA, Bill C-40. The miscellaneous statute law amendment program was initiated in 1975 to allow for minor, non-controversial amendments to federal statutes in an omnibus bill. A draft version of Bill C-40 was submitted to the standing committees on justice of the House and the Senate.

The MSLA process requires any item objected to by a Senate or House committee to be withdrawn from the bill. To be included, the proposed amendments must meet certain criteria. They must not be controversial, not involve the spending of public funds, not unfairly affect the rights of persons, not create a new offence, and not subject a new class of persons to any existing offence.

The procedure is designed to eliminate any potential controversial items ensuring quick passage of the bill. Bill C-43 contains items objected to in Bill C-40 and also contains new items regarding the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act as well as items that did not make it into Bill C-40 on time.

While Bill C-43 contains minor technical changes similar to an MSLA bill it cannot be treated as an MSLA bill since a few of the amendments did not meet the criteria for an MSLA bill. Quick passage could not be granted and a committee hearing was deemed necessary.

Both the House and Senate committees objected to clauses in Bill C-40 that appear in Bill C-43 as clauses 2, 3 and 4 because they allowed the minister to enter into agreements with the government of any province or provinces in Atlantic Canada respecting the carrying out of any program or project of the agency. This is a change from cabinet authority to ministerial authority.

The Senate and House committees objected to a clause in Bill C-40 that appears as clause 21 in Bill C-43 because it would require royal recommendation. Clause 21 would repeal a section of the National Film Act that limits the National Film Board's ability to appoint staff with salaries of over $99,000 without seeking the approval of cabinet. The clause is viewed by the film board as an unnecessary administrative requirement. The original intent of the provision dates back to 1939. The change would not increase the film board's budget that is approved by parliament.

We in the official opposition support Bill C-43. However it is the first fisheries legislation the government has enacted since coming to office in 1993. It would repeal the defunct Fisheries Prices Support Act that has been little used since 1982 and whose board was shut down in 1995.

The Canadian Alliance would support a fisheries policy that protected the public fishery, fish stocks and fish habitat. We would support a policy that provided for a fishery with equal access for all, healthy sustainable stocks, and a habitat that ensured stocks for the future. The CA supports the strategic purchase of surplus fish products by CIDA for use as part of Canada's food aid programs. The continued existence of the Fisheries Prices Support Act with its defunct board has not contributed to nor has it been a necessary precondition for a healthy fishery.

Bill C-43 is a reminder that fishermen, fisheries legislation and fisheries policy have not been a priority for the government.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

December 18th, 2001 / 5:05 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-6, an act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act--Chapter No. 40.

Bill C-24, an act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and law enforcement) and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 32.

Bill C-31, an act to amend the Export Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 33.

Bill C-32, an act to implement the free trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica--Chapter No. 28.

Bill C-34, an act to establish the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and to make consequential amendments to other acts--Chapter No. 29.

Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism--Chapter No. 41.

Bill C-38, an act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act--Chapter No. 35.

Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect--Chapter No. 34.

Bill C-44, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act--Chapter No. 38.

Bill C-45, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2002--Chapter No. 39.

Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (alcohol ignition interlock device programs)--Chapter No. 37.

Bill S-10, an act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Poet Laureate)--Chapter No. 36.

Bill S-31, an act to implement agreements , conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Slovenia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Senegal, the Czech Republic and Germany for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income--Chapter No. 30.

Bill S-33, an act to amend the Carriage by Air Act--Chapter No. 31.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2001 / 1:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a distinct pleasure to rise on a Friday afternoon to direct some comments on such an important and momentous bill as Bill C-43. To the hon. NDP member who just spoke, I would like to say at the outset that I do believe there is nobody further to the left of him other than perhaps the heritage minister. I would like to clear that up right at the beginning of my remarks. Although we are physically located to the left of him, we certainly do not believe on the political spectrum that we are.

This is quite an issue that has seized the House this afternoon. As has already been noted, Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act, is an omnibus bill, perhaps a bit like so many others in the sense that it addresses many different issues all in one bill. As has been noted by the hon. government House leader and the House leader for the official opposition and other members before me, primarily it brings about technical amendments to a number of acts. The list is quite long.

The bill affects the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, the Energy Monitoring Act, the National Energy Board Act, and on and on it goes. Bill C-43 is quite comprehensive and makes what has been referred to as minor housekeeping amendments.

The issue I want to address in my remarks on Bill C-43 stems from how we got to this point with this piece of legislation being brought forward by the government. It might interest members and the viewing public to know that amendments similar to these were contained in a previous bill, Bill C-40, which passed through the House. However, because quite a number of concerns were raised by opposition members at the justice committee, these particular amendments were dropped out of Bill C-40. That bill then progressed through the House and went on to the Senate. To my knowledge, Bill C-40 is still currently before the other place.

One of the things that is of interest, and I just say one, is that both the House and the Senate committees raised concerns, not specifically to the amendments themselves in some cases, but to the lack of background information being provided for the rationale for the amendments themselves. During his brief remarks the hon. government House leader referred to that. He duly noted that this time around when Bill C-43 was brought forward, additional information and material was provided to parliamentarians to support the necessity for some of these amendments.

The one amendment I wish to pick up on in the bill deals with clauses 17 and 18. Clause 17 is an amendment to the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act which is just one of the myriad of acts Bill C-43 addresses. Clause 17 states:

The definition “deferred pension” in section 2 of the Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act is replaced by the following:

“deferred pension” means a pension that becomes payable to a person at the time he or she reaches sixty years of age.

What is interesting to note in this regard is that the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs in its report on Bill C-40, the forerunner to Bill C-43, raised a concern. It asked why in clauses 17 and 18 the government decided to lower the age from 65 to 60 for a deferred pension for lieutenant governors.

It believed it might be a minor change, but it behooves all of us to understand the rationale behind that. Is it to bring it into line with other pensions and if so, did there at least appear to be a reluctance on the part of the government to provide that rationale? Would it not have been appropriate to have that brought forward at that time?

I picked that one example because clearly what the committees in both houses have targeted in this type of legislation is that to do a proper job of overseeing these types of amendments, they clearly want to understand exactly the rationale and perhaps from time to time have an expert witness come before the committee to provide testimony. For example, when a particular clause is being dropped from an act, they want to make sure that is an appropriate thing to do.

In the time I have remaining I want to refer to the whole issue of why we are debating this bill today. Yesterday, as the House leader for the Canadian Alliance noted, the House rose with two hours of time remaining for debate. We could have been debating legislation, Bill C-43 which we are debating today or other bills.

An act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support ActGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2001 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

I am pleased to have the support of the secretary of state.

The Lieutenant Governors Superannuation Act would also be changed to respond to a request from lieutenant governors to bring their pension arrangements in line with those of the federal public sector by allowing them to receive a pension at age 60 instead of age 65. I understand they are the only group in the public sector that has this particular requirement right now. It would bring it more in line with others because of course a number of people can retire at age 55 and so on.

I want to assure the House that there are no changes to the overall pension policies or arrangements for lieutenant governors.

Given the other large files we are studying this fall in the House of Commons, the amendments in this bill do not in themselves really merit separate bills. These are minor amendments after all. They are therefore grouped together in this bill.

The government therefore decided to introduce this bill so as to use parliamentarians' time more effectively and, of course, to ensure that our legislation is as accurate and up to date as possible.

By going ahead without further delay with this technical amendments bill, parliament can examine minor legislative amendments without waiting for other bills, which would make fundamental changes to the same bills, to be introduced.

I would now like to go over certain provisions of the bill. A number of amendments have to do with the Fisheries Prices Support Act. If members are wondering what purpose this act serves, it is a good question because this piece of legislation is obsolete. The Fisheries Prices Support Board is dissolved. Because it is obsolete, it has served no purpose for a good number of years.

These provisions were part of the draft amendment act to which I referred earlier. The committee had requested additional information about them while they were examining this bill. That information was provided and, in its report, the committee did not object to our going ahead with these provisions. However, because of the concerns raised during committee study, they were not incorporated into Bill C-40 passed by the House a few weeks ago.

Since we have now provided the information requested, it should be possible to go ahead and examine these provisions without delay.

With respect to Bill C-40, it is interesting to note that the structure that was established was that if one parliamentarian objected to a clause, it was simply removed from the bill at committee study stage. In return, Bill C-40 was passed at all stages in the House without debate. This is the structure which is always used for amendment acts. It is why we are examining some of these amendments today.

Under clauses 5 to 15 the name of the Canadian Film Development Corporation would be legally changed to Telefilm Canada. I was quite surprised to hear this because I for one, and probably all members of the House and the Canadian public, generally thought that Telefilm Canada was the legal name. It appears that it was not inserted in the law although it was the commonly used term. Telefilm Canada is the name that the corporation has used since 1983. It is bilingual and clearly identifies what the corporation does and the name change would be included in the legislation.

The National Capital Act would be amended to take into account changes to the Ontario and Quebec municipal structures. I note that the changes to the Quebec municipal structure only take effect on January 1, 2002. If parliament were to pass the technical corrections bill this fall, the final clause of the bill would allow a national capital provision to be brought into force on or after January 1.

For those members who are not from the national capital region, we have had amalgamation of municipalities. The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton in Ontario is now the city of Ottawa. Almost the same thing occurred on the Quebec side in the national capital region. It is now one city bearing the name Gatineau. However I understand the jury is still out on that.

Therefore we have to change the National Capital Act for the number of seats to be on the National Capital Commission as a result of the amalgamation of municipalities in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The National Film Act would be changed to allow the National Film Board to administer its human resources in the same way as other separate employers. At the present time it needs a special governor in council approval for certain appointments. That is over and above the treasury board oversight which exists for all similar organizations. The amendment would simplify its hiring practice while not removing the government's oversight of the expenditure of public money.

In other words, we have two cabinet committees reviewing the same thing: the committee that does orders in council, which is called a special committee of council, and treasury board. This would be streamlined since they were essentially doing the same thing twice.

The Nuclear Safety and Control Act would be amended to allow the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to set terms and conditions of employment in the same way as other separate employers and to fix the amount of service contracts. I assure the House that the commission would remain subject to treasury board policies on contracting similar to other federal employers.

There is also an inconsistency in the English and French versions of the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act which would be corrected as part of the bill.

The bill contains in part technical corrections but substantive changes are also included to a degree. The fact that the city of Ottawa is no longer called the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton is something that has to be fixed along with bills that no longer have a use. The bill is a mixture of all these things.

These amendments are minor and technical in nature and do not reflect any significant policy issue. None of the provisions of the bill are substantive in nature, at least not to a major degree. Almost all of them were in the draft miscellaneous statute law amendment bill, 2001.

I understand that the information provided to committees addressed the concerns noted during the committee study regarding the information required for those parts that were in the MSLA. Further material on these provisions has been included in the communications material for the bill. I understand that all parties received this documentation.

I hope all members would support the timely passage of these housekeeping amendments. This would ensure that our laws are up to date and in order. I indicated earlier that if the House were agreeable we could have done all stages of the bill today. I am told that it was not agreeable. Therefore we will not.

We will send it to committee. I hope the committee would give it speedy approval. We could bring before the committee the officials we have prepared so that they are available to answer the technical questions hon. members might want to ask.

Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001Government Orders

November 2nd, 2001 / 10 a.m.
See context

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved that Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed, or otherwise ceased to have effect, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, as the House will know, this is a bill that corrects largely translation differences between French and English and English and French, as well as other technicalities. The amendments proposed by the committee have all been incorporated in the bill. Therefore I would like to seek unanimous consent for the following order. I move:

That Bill C-40 be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to a committee of the whole and reported without amendment, concurred in at the report stage, read a third time and passed.

Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001Routine Proceedings

November 1st, 2001 / 10:05 a.m.
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Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-40, an act to correct certain anomalies, inconsistencies and errors and to deal with other matters of a non-controversial and uncomplicated nature in the Statutes of Canada and to repeal certain provisions that have expired, lapsed or otherwise ceased to have effect.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Courts Administration Service ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2001 / 3:20 p.m.
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NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have just a brief comment on Bill C-30, formerly Bill C-40. It is a bill, as members will know, to establish a body to provide administrative services to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Tax Court of Canada.

The principal goal of the legislation, as I understand it, is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of these courts while at the same time preserving the appropriate balance between judicial independence and financial accountability.

I understand that pursuant to a seminal case on judicial independence known as Valente v The Queen, the Supreme Court of Canada itself has indicated that the proposed structure satisfies in its mind the constitutional test for institutional independence, because this would certainly be one of the concerns people might have about the legislation.

The legislation follows again, as I understand it, upon the recommendation of a former auditor general who had recommended a complete merger of the Federal Court and the Tax Court of Canada as a means to address the administrative inefficiencies he identified but the government decided not to go this far. In my judgment it was probably right in not listening totally to the recommendations of the auditor general.

I might say in this context that I sometimes find, as I have said in the past, that the auditor general goes beyond what is required and goes much farther down the road in policy making and policy recommendation than I feel the auditor general ought to. I find it is often the case that the auditor general's office not only identifies inefficiencies or problems but then goes on to make recommendations, almost like an independent policy think-tank. I have had correspondence with previous auditors general on this but I do not want to grind that particular political axe this afternoon.

All I want to say is that although the bill is lengthy in terms of how much paper it consumes, the idea is pretty simple. The sooner we get this to committee and deal with it the better.

Courts Administration Service ActGovernment Orders

October 1st, 2001 / 5:55 p.m.
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Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to begin second rebating debate on Bill C-30, an act to establish a body that provides administrative services to the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court and the Tax Court of Canada.

The principal objective of the bill is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the administration of the Federal Court of Canada and the Tax Court of Canada through certain structural modifications to these courts. As important, these amendments are designed to respect fully the courts' independence and to ensure the continued provision of the high quality of justice that Canadians have come to expect from these courts.

Our constitution establishes that responsibility and powers for courts administration is shared between the judiciary and the government. On the one hand, it is the responsibility of the government to provide and be publicly accountable for the provision of the necessary resources required to support the courts' functions.

Chief justices on the other hand are responsible and accountable for the effective administration of the courts as it relates to the judicial function. It is a constitutional requirement that the courts enjoy an established level of institutional or administrative independence.

In the seminal case on judicial independence, Valente v. the Queen, the Supreme Court of Canada indicated that an institutional independence requires that the judiciary remain in control of all matters bearing directly on the judicial function.

I am confident that the administrative structure proposed in Bill C-30 creates the appropriate balance between judicial independence and financial accountability for the use of public funds in a manner that meets or surpasses the test in Valente. I would add that the courts have agreed that the proposed structure satisfies the constitutional test for institutional independence.

I would like to emphasize, however, that it was not solely the constitutional imperative but, as important, the practical realities of shared responsibility for courts administration, that led to the proposed structure of the courts administrative service. Between the two poles of their respective authority and accountability, there is a large operational and policy area in which both government and the judiciary have an interest and a role.

A recognition of the need for government-judicial partnership in this area was the starting point in developing the reforms reflected in the bill. The objective of these reforms was not to alter the role of the chief justices in the administration of their courts. Rather the proposed structural reforms would build on the current strengths in order to achieve improved efficiencies through a consolidated administrative service at the direction of a single experienced senior official.

The proposed courts administration service was developed partly in response to efficiency concerns that had been raised by the former auditor general in 1997 with respect to the administration of the federal court and tax court.

The government and courts jointly recognized that there was an opportunity to be responsive to the auditor general's concerns, without undermining either the requisite institutional independence of the courts or the high quality of justice they are committed to delivering. Designing an administrative structure with the input and collaboration of the judiciary was seen as a key to ensuring its viability and ultimate success.

It is for that reason that the proposed model was developed in close collaboration with the Federal Court, the Tax Court and the Court Martial Appeal Court. The advice and views of the chief justices were sought throughout the process on both the overall structure and its technical implementation.

I am therefore pleased to be able to advise hon. members today that the proposed new courts administrative service enjoys the full support and commitment of the courts. I am equally pleased to advise that the former auditor general also expressed his satisfaction and support for the proposed reforms.

I should point out that the former auditor general had recommended the complete merger of the federal court and the Tax Court of Canada as a means to address the administrative in efficiencies he identified. However, after serious consideration of all of the former auditor general's recommendations, the government has decided against wholesale merger of the courts and opted instead for consolidation of the administrations only.

Both the Federal Court and Tax Court are established and respected national institutions that separately and ably perform important necessary functions. The government is satisfied that the overall structure of the two courts is essentially sound and that the proposed consolidated courts administration service would achieve the auditor general's objectives for improved co-ordination and overall efficiencies.

I am pleased to advise that following introduction of former Bill C-40, the predecessor of Bill C-30, the then auditor general indicated his support for this approach.

In a letter to the Minister of Justice dated June 26, 2000, the former auditor general wrote:

We are pleased that the proposed legislation reflects the key recommendations of our April 1997 report to the Minister of Justice.... With proper implementation, the proposed measures should significantly improve the efficiency and accountability and the administrative services provided to the courts while maintaining the independence of the judicial function.

We are confident that the new courts administration service will provide the strong and cohesive administrative framework necessary to ensure the effective and efficient use of public resources.

In addition to the consolidation of the current administrative services of the two courts into a single courts administration service, Bill C-30 includes two other important structural reforms: first, the creation of a separate Federal Court of Appeal; and second, a change in the status of the tax court to that of a superior court. I would like to first provide more details on the courts administration proposals and then explain the objective of the two latter proposals.

As I have indicated, the most significant structural modification in the bill is the consolidation of the current administrative services of the two courts into a single service. The service would serve the administrative needs of the Federal Court, the Tax Court and the Court Martial Appeal Court. This would entail common management of all aspects of administration, including court facilities, registries and related real property and common corporate services.

The bill provides that the courts administration service would be headed by a chief administrator. This experienced senior official, appointed by governor in council, would be responsible and accountable to parliament for all matters of administration relating to the courts. The bill expressly provides that the judiciary would continue to be responsible for all matters relating to judicial functions.

As I have indicated, this structure contemplates regular and ongoing collaboration between the chief justices and the chief administrator in their areas of shared interest and responsibility. Regular consultations with individual chief justices and their associates will no doubt be a regular mode of operation. It is noteworthy that the bill expressly requires that the chief administrator consult with the chief justices when making decisions concerning the establishment and operation of registries and when preparing budgetary submissions.

While it is expected that the judiciary and the chief administrator will work toward consensus with respect to all important decisions relating to the effective operation of the courts, there may be occasions in which their respective views differ sufficiently that a definitive decision needs to be taken. To provide for such occasions, which we expect would be rare, the bill provides statutory authority for chief justices to give binding written directions to the chief administrator on any matter within the authority of the chief administrator.

I want to pause here to make what may appear to be an obvious point. The proposed courts administration service and all matters of courts administration would remain subject to the same legal and statutory framework as other federal government institutions, including the estimates process, the Financial Administration Act and the applicable public service employment statutes. Any directions that may be provided by a chief justice to the chief administrator under this proposal would have to be consistent with that framework.

The courts administration service will be at arm's length from the government, thus reinforcing an appropriate degree of independence. However, the bill also provides for improved accountability, particularly before parliament, for both administrative effectiveness and probity in the use of public resources.

The chief administrator would be required to report annually to parliament on the administration of the court and would appear before parliamentary committees to answer questions on the courts' estimates. In fulfilling his or her duty to account for all aspects of court administration, the chief administrator would have the discretion to publish in the annual report any written directions from the chief justices. In addition, the chief administrator could use the written directions in the context of any appearances before parliamentary committees.

These are the main elements of the proposed courts administration service. The proposed structure has the support of all the affected courts as well as the former auditor general.

The second element of the proposed reform in the bill would alter the structural relationship between the Federal Court Trial Division and the Federal Court of Appeal. The objective of this reform is to clarify the respective roles of the chief justices of the trial court and the court of appeal, and to ensure the most efficient judicial management of each court.

Currently, the court of appeal and the trial court are two divisions of the same court with the chief justice responsible for the overall management of the court. The bill would create two separate courts. The current chief justice would continue as chief justice of the Federal Court with responsibility for judicial management of the court of appeal. The current associate chief justice of the trial division would become the chief justice of the separate trial court with overall management responsibility for that court. This structure is the norm in most provincial superior courts.

The final key reform element would confer on the Tax Court of Canada the status of superior court. This change of status is intended to recognize the Tax Court as a well respected institution that provides an exemplary service to Canadians. Superior court status would also establish the Tax Court as a full equal partner with the other three courts in the newly consolidated administration.

I would like to point out that this change of status would not result in either enhanced remuneration or jurisdiction for the judges of the Tax Court. The judges of the Tax Court already receive salaries and benefits at the level equivalent to superior court judges. Moreover, superior court status for the Tax Court is intended to support and reinforce the administrative objectives of the structural changes. The court does not seek through these reforms to effect any substantive change to the current jurisdiction and remedial powers of the tax court.

I am confident that these reforms will receive widespread support from all those served by the Federal Court and Tax Court. By creating a single administrative framework, as I have just described, the opportunities for administrative improvements and efficiencies will be effectively realized and the high quality of justice that Canadians expect from these important national institutions will be maintained.

The government puts forward the bill and I commend it to parliament for consideration.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

March 29th, 2001 / 11:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak to Bill C-2.

First I want to tell members how deeply moving I found the 60 statements or so that we heard during the committee's hearings. They disturbed me because they were a cold and profound reflection of the needs of the Canadian and Quebec societies.

To briefly resume the situation, we now have before us Bill C-2, the former Bill C-40 introduced in 1996. This bill does not bring about the radical changes requested by Canadians as a whole, unions, women's groups, young people, boards of trade, employers and all the representatives of the Canadian and Quebec populations.

I would like to quote parts of some briefs tabled by people who appeared before the committee. I think it is important to read them into the record and to remember what those people had to say.

As the House knows, and I would like to congratulate my Bloc colleague who introduced this motion, in committee we succeeded, with the assistance of the government, in asking for a report from the committee which will be able to examine all the briefs and report back to the House before June 1.

We hope that it will advance the cause of unemployed workers and not just ease the government's conscience. This report has to lead to something concrete, to major changes in the EI plan.

I want to come back to certain labour unions, including the CSN, which represents a good 250,000 workers in Quebec. The following is a short passage from its brief:

As for the amendments in Bill C-2, the CSN feels that these are half measures which will not result in access for those workers who have lost their job because of changes in the work place.

I will now read a few lines from the FTQ brief.

FTQ members would have hoped for much more from EI reform. We feel that the legislator does not go far enough to right the wrongs of past reforms.

That was what the FTQ had to say. Another labour confederation in Quebec, the CSD, put it this way:

A decent reform would not give the Minister of Human Resources Development and the Minister of Finance the authority to set premium rates, when it was the employment insurance commission that used to have this authority.

This is an unacceptable ploy that will give the government unfettered access to surpluses in the EI fund, because premium rates will no longer hinge on self-funding but on the government's financial needs.

We are not the ones saying so; the CSD is.

My last quotations will be from the auditor general, in whom we have the utmost confidence.

Bill C-2, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, and Chapter 34 of the December 2000 Report, lack clarity on the basis used in setting employment insurance rates.

A little later on in his statement the auditor general adds:

The introduction of Bill C-2 has not alleviated our concern. There is no requirement for the interim rate-setting process to be more transparent.

Furthermore, unlike the introduction of Bill C-44, there is no information on, or commitment to review, the rate-setting process while section 66 is suspended. In other words, the scope and nature of the review, if any, are unclear.

When the committee met with the various witnesses our awareness of a number of areas was greatly improved. Perhaps I do not have enough time in my 10 minutes to give them all, but I shall try to touch on them briefly.

There was discussion of the seasonal industries, for the truth is that it is the work that is seasonal and not the workers. I can speak with authority on this because my riding depends on tourism, which is a seasonal industry.

When the snow is gone, so are the jobs. People have to wait until the summer tourist season comes along to work in golf clubs and the like.

Between those two seasons, however, they have no work. They go off to apply for employment insurance. They are faced with a two week penalty because every time a person applies he or she has to wait two weeks before drawing maybe a month of benefits. These people return to the labour market for the summer, and with the arrival of fall they are again penalized for two weeks because they apply for employment insurance for three or four weeks while looking for work for the winter.

Is this what these people want? Do we think they go out of their way to get half their salary twice a year for two months? They lose a month's salary, a month of income in their budget. They have to live with that. They have to plan their lives around it. These people depend on this industry. Why are they penalized? This is totally unacceptable.

Do we think that the women working in seasonal industry are happy at losing their spots in day care? Not at all. They have to continue sending their children to day care while they are not working to make sure they do not lose their place. They pay for that.

It is not true that people are encouraged to go on employment insurance. It is totally false. If these people could do without it, they would do a lot better.

There is also the whole issue of self-employed workers. In Quebec there are a lot of small businesses. Elsewhere in Canada too, but primarily in Quebec, a lot of small and medium size businesses have been established.

Self-employed workers have become a fact of life. There were perhaps fewer of them in the past than there are now, but it is a fact of life in Quebec and Canada.

These people often work very hard for long hours and they are not protected by any system. They represent perhaps 18% of the population. That is a lot of people. They would like to be included in the employment insurance plan if possible or in something like it. They want to be part of a plan that would allow them to have employment insurance. They are prepared to pay the money necessary for the protection. They need it just as much as the person working for a business.

This will increasingly be the case in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. These people cannot be excluded. Yet there is absolutely nothing in the bill for them.

Another very important issue for me is the case of young workers. It almost makes no sense to require young workers to work 910 hours. It is absurd. They are penalized because they are part of the labour market. Does the government realize the result of this? It leads some employers to abuse, to tell a young person “You better work and do your job, otherwise you will not get employment insurance benefits”.

I could have elaborated on other issues such as the case of pregnant women. Why are pregnant women penalized when a newborn child should be the most wonderful thing that can happen to a family? Pregnant women are being penalized. From now on, women may decide to have children or not based on whether they qualify for employment insurance benefits. Otherwise they will not be able to afford it. This does not make sense.

There is $35 billion in a fund that belongs to people who have contributed to it throughout their lives but who will not qualify. This is totally absurd.

I would like to end with clause 9. We asked that this clause be deleted. It is the most important one in the bill. It reads:

Notwithstanding section 66, the premium rate for each of the years 2002 and 2003 is the rate set for the year by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister and the Minister of Finance.

We want that clause deleted. We do not want it. We do not want these people to set the premium rate and to decide who will be entitled to employment insurance benefits.