An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (dependence on alcohol or drugs)

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Myron Thompson  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 11, 2005
(This bill did not become 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.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActRoutine Proceedings

February 11th, 2005 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-328, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (dependence on alcohol or drugs).

Mr. Speaker, the bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to add the condition that an offender not have a dependency on alcohol or drugs in order to be eligible for parole, that if he or she is indeed addicted to any these, that he or she not receive parole.

I know that will be difficult because of the drug problem which is supposed to be a zero tolerance but which does not exist in this country. Nevertheless, when we send people to prison for rehabilitation and they are not rehabilitated, they continually remain addicted, and this bill would prevent them from being released on parole.

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

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

November 25th, 2004 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening to Bill C-263, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code with respect to replacement workers during a strike action.

Before addressing this bill in particular, I believe it is important that we take the bill in the context of what has happened in this Parliament in times past.

In the 37th Parliament, a similar bill, Bill C-328, was debated and subsequently defeated. The reasons for that bill not passing then are relevant to our present discussions on Bill C-263 today, and that has to do with the amendment to the Canada Labour Code, part 1, in 1999.

Previous to that, HRDC undertook an extensive review that resulted in an amendment to the Canada Labour Code relating in part to our discussion today on the issue of replacement workers. The amendment to the Labour Code was precipitated by a task force report, chaired by Andrew Sims, entitled “Seeking a Balance”. I think the title speaks to what was attempted to be accomplished.

In that report, after extensive consultation with major stakeholders representing employers' interests, employees' interests, society's interests and the country as a whole, the majority recommended a provision in the Labour Code that would give employers flexibility to meet their operating responsibilities, but would prevent them from using replacement workers to undermine a union's legitimate bargaining objectives.

That is the balance that has worked since 1999. We have not had any instance where there has been a problem. There has been only one case that was to be referred to the quasi-judicial body and it was resolved before it got there. If it has been working, we need to allow it to continue working and not try to fix it. The minority report recommended a prohibition of replacement workers in its entirety, which is similar to the provision this bill is proposing.

A complete prohibition of replacement workers would force the parties to bargain in a closed environment, one which would not account for the economic realities of the marketplace, especially as we face them today. There are economic considerations both for the employer's benefit and the employee's benefit that require not only the preservation of the property, but the preservation of the business and the economic realities that it faces.

We find that we are, in the federal case, much different from what they would be in a provincial case because this jurisdiction covers essential services across the country and it affects not only one province but it affects Canadians across the whole country.

The relevant portion of the current section of the labour code, section 94(2.1), which Bill C-263 is attempting to change, is a result of the majority report and provides that no employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall use replacement workers for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a trade union's representational capacity.

This amendment to the Labour Code was an attempt to deal fairly with the issue of replacement workers in the federal jurisdiction by accommodating the competing values and interests of employers, unions and employees. It attempts to strike a balance by prohibiting the use of replacement workers if the intent is to undermine a union's representational capacity.

It is not fair or accurate to say that it allows replacement workers in total. It allows them to the extent necessary and as long as it is not abused. So far employers have not been abusing that provision. It has been working. We know when there is a strike on. We know by the services, whether it is Bell Canada or the railways, that the service is being disrupted and the legitimate purposes of strike continues as the parties attempt to work things out. That must be preserved.

What is being proposed is significantly different from the solution that was reached by the stakeholders in the current Labour Code. The bill seeks to undo the substantial contribution of literally scores of stakeholders over a period of years and the subsequent full debate in the House of two bills, Bill C-66 and Bill C-19, which led to the amendments resulting in our current Labour Code.

I empathize with the intent of the bill, that any time the duties of anyone on strike are performed by someone else, the effectiveness of a strike is diluted and the bargaining position of the striking employees is weakened. Strike action is a valuable tool for employees who wish to bring resolution in the collective bargaining process, and the employees ought not to face punitive measures for taking action to which they are legally entitled. This attempts to balance that right and allows the provision for an unfair labour practice to be taken to a higher level.

The Conservative Party of Canada supports the right of workers to organize democratically, to bargain collectively and to strike peacefully. The Conservative Party is also committed to working with both unions and employers in areas of federal jurisdiction to continue developing dispute settlement mechanisms to minimize or avoid work disruptions to the benefit of both employers and employees.

In conclusion I would like to refer once more to the title of the Sims report, “Seeking a Balance”. After all was said and heard in previous Parliaments by countless witnesses on both sides of the issue, I believe they sought that balance and attained it. The balance exists and is now incorporated in the current part I of the Labour Code.

Many interests have been taken into account beyond just the interests of the employers and the employees. The report capsulized that our approach has been to seek balance between labour and management, between social and economic values, between variable instruments of labour policy, between rights and responsibilities, between individuals and democratic group rights and between the public interest and free collective bargaining.

We seek a stable structure within which free collective bargaining will work. We want legislation that is sound, enactable and lasting. We see the too frequent swinging of the political pendulum as being counterproductive to sound labour relations. We looked for reforms that would allow labour and management to adjust and thrive in the increasingly global workplace. That is the essence of it.

If Parliament wishes to re-examine this issue of replacement workers as part of a larger study, I believe considerable interest would be generated among the stakeholders to provide for a full and complete debate on this matter. That type of comprehensive debate and discussion cannot take place in the limited time we have in the House in the context of a private member's bill.

Without significant contributions from all of the affected stakeholders, I recommend that members of this House not support this bill in its present form. I agree with the previous comments, if it is fixed leave it that way.

Department of Human Resources and Skills Development ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2004 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, in connection with the hiring of replacement workers to take the place of workers on strike or locked out, the Bloc Québécois believes that a Minister of Labour working within the spirit of part 2 of Bill C-23 ought to make a commitment to support Bill C-263. Once again, the Bloc Québécois is the only party in Ottawa defending the interests of the workers of Quebec.

The Canada Labour Code should be amended and brought into line with the Quebec code, so as to ban the use of strikebreakers for once and for all. The best way to acknowledge the exceptional contribution of all those who are involved every day in building our societies is to provide them with the guarantee that everything possible will be done to ensure that Bill C-263, as proposed by the hon. member for Louis-Hébert, is passed. This is a bill to eliminate the outmoded practice of using strikebreakers during strikes or lockouts. The Bloc Québécois will do its utmost to gain the support of the other political parties in this House.

Anti-scab measures are indispensable if there are to be civilized negotiations during labour disputes. Measures against the use of strikebreakers foster industrial peace. They are the cornerstone that ensures a level playing field for employers and employees. They will make it possible to eliminate the existence of two categories of workers in Quebec: those who come under Quebec's jurisdiction and therefore have that right, and those who do not because they work in businesses under federal jurisdiction.

The Prime Minister, who was so anxious to have that position, now needs to show his true colours as far as this bill is concerned. We also need to hear from all of his caucus today. They cannot want to direct the Parliament of Canada and not take part in a debate as important as one on workers' rights. We need to know their intentions. Quebeckers and Canadians can count on the Bloc Québécois to keep after them until a response is forthcoming.

On October 21, a 46,000 signature petition was tabled in the House by my colleague, the former labour critic, in support of workers and asking that the government pass Bill C-328. In solidarity with all workers, the Bloc Québécois adopted a resolution at its last biennial congress recognizing the importance of amending the Canada Labour Code to prevent the use of strikebreakers.

The situation in Quebec and in Canada is that only Quebec and British Columbia have legislation preventing the use of strikebreakers. Four provinces, including Ontario, have included anti-strikebreaker measures in their labour codes.

In Quebec, the passage of the anti-strikebreaker legislation in December 1977, implemented in 1978 under René Lévesque, was unanimously hailed as a great leap forward in workers' rights.

Following a particularly stormy strike at United Aircraft in Longueuil, this measure which seriously limited all employers' abilities to scorn unions with impunity, put Quebec in the vanguard in North America.

In New Brunswick, union leaders have been calling for anti-strikebreaker measures to be added to the provincial labour code for some time now. The same is true in Manitoba and Saskatchewan where unions are trying to convince their governments to adopt such measures.

Section 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code contains provisions forbidding replacement workers, but only if the employer uses them for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a trade union's representational capacity. This is a weak provision since the employer need only continue to recognize the existing union and thus not undermine its representational capacity in order to have the right to use replacement workers, strikebreakers or scabs.

In other words, if the employer refuses to negotiate and uses scabs, at that point the Canada Labour Relations Board can forbid the employment of such workers. However, if the employer negotiates or pretends to negotiate with the union in order to avoid this prohibition, it can continue to use scabs. We can see that this is a ridiculous measure and leaves a huge loophole for the use of scabs.

Now I will address the importance of having legislation. There is a general consensus among the various unions as to the importance of having anti-scab measures for both provincial and federal workers. Anti-scab legislation is needed in the current labour climate because it allows greater transparency in labour disputes.

There are many negative effects to having a strike or a lockout and they are enough to illustrate the importance of having anti-scab measures in order to reduce the conflicts. Strikes or lockouts can cause a decrease in local or global economic productivity, in business and government revenues, and in profits, which lowers the purchasing power of the workers directly or indirectly affected by the dispute. In some cases the dispute can cause social problems, debt in the households involved in the dispute, psychological problems caused by stress, and so forth.

I have some thought-provoking numbers. Anti-scab legislation has existed in Quebec since 1977. The average number of working days lost was 39.4 days in 1976. This decreased to 32.8 in 1979. In 2002-03, the number of workers affected by labour disputes in Quebec dropped by 18% and average days lost in 2001 was 27.4. The number of days dropped from 39 to 27 in Quebec with anti-scab legislation.

Anti-scab legislation has existed in British Columbia since 1993. As a result, from 1992 to 1993 the ratio of time lost dropped by 50%. The average number of working days lost between 1992 and 2002 under the Quebec Labour Code was 15.9 days compared to 31.1 days under the Canada Labour Code, which is a difference of 95%. That is the difference between the two. The number of days lost by 1,000 employees from 1992 to 2002 was 121 days under the Quebec Labour Code compared to 266 days under the Canada Labour Code: a difference of 119%.

The 10 month dispute at Vidéotron alone resulted in a loss of 355,340 working days in Quebec in 2002. This is more than a third of all working days lost because of a strike or lockout in 2002 in Quebec. The conflict at Sécur resulted in a loss of 43,400 working days. These numbers certainly do not explain all the circumstances, but they are troubling enough that the government should conduct a serious study of this issue.

The Liberal government should explain to workers its reluctance to support the initiative put forward by members of the Bloc Québécois. But workers know they can always rely on the hard work of the Bloc Québécois to help the government see the light.

I have four more examples of labour disputes that demonstrate the urgency of amending the federal legislation. In May 2001, with the approval of the CRTC, Quebecor bought the Vidéotron cable company with the help of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. In order to clear up financial difficulties related to this acquisition, Quebec undertook shortly thereafter a streamlining process to save $35 million to $40 million a year in its cable company.

The dispute between the 2,200 employees and technicians of the cable company and Quebecor was considered by many like the last big step in a comprehensive streamlining exercise. The 2,200 Vidéotron employees were on strike or locked out from May 8, 2002 until March 2003. Vidéotron facilities were vandalized many times. The end result was a conflict that lasted more than 10 months.

In the Sécur case, after 99% of workers voted against the employer's latest offers, the 900 employees went on strike on July 5, 2002. On that date, the Sécur company held 75% of the market of valuables transport in Quebec, and its annual turnover was $55 million. It was delivering cash to 1,200 of the 6,000 automatic teller machines in Quebec. Since the labour dispute began, this work has been done by the bank employees and some 100 managers of the company.

The situation deteriorated at the end of August: Sécur employees vandalized automated banking machines by caulking them with urethane foam. The dispute ended on October 9, 2002. The result was that the labour dispute at Sécur lasted over three months.

In the case of Cargill, since they had been without a labour contract since 1999 and were not able to reach an agreement on the content of the collective agreement, the management and the CSN union stopped negotiating on March 21, 2000. Because of the deadlock in the negotiations with the union, the management at Cargill, a grain company, ordered a lock out on March 28, 2000, at its Baie-Comeau facilities, thus affecting 42 permanent employees.

On April 28, 2003, Cargill accepted the recommendation of the federal Department of Labour mediator on the whole collective agreement and on the back to work agreement at its Baie-Comeau port facilities.

On April 18, 2003, most of the 42 Cargill workers also approved the mediator's recommendation. Finally, after years of negotiations, an agreement was reached. But the fact is that the dispute at Cargill lasted 38 months.

In the case of Radio-Nord Communications, the union members, who represent three television stations, namely TVA, TQS and the CBC, and also two other radio stations in northwest Quebec, remained on strike from October 25, 2002, until August 2004.

This was the second labour dispute in four years, the first one dating back to 1998. Over the past 15 years, Radio-Nord has eliminated close to 50 positions in Abitibi. Since the last labour contract, 10 unionized jobs were abolished, including two positions of journalists.

SECAT, which is the union for communications employees in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and which is affiliated with the CSN, condemns the centralization of the various management groups in the Outaouais region.

This means that the decisions affecting the various communities in Abitibi-Témiscamingue reflect the happenings in the region less and less. While the union was open to resuming talks, Radio-Nord continued to rely on replacement workers. The result is that the dispute at Radio-Nord Communications lasted over 22 months.

The labour disputes at Radio-Nord Communications and Cargill, and those that dragged on at Vidéotron and Sécur, have several points in common. They are long disputes in areas governed by the federal labour code and where the use of replacement workers is permitted. I should also point out that the work stoppage at Vidéotron and Sécur led to acts of violence and vandalism.

Violence and vandalism will never be justified and should be condemned outright by workers' representatives. However, the feeling of powerlessness and not seeing an end to the strike or lockout inevitably leads some of them to take illegal and serious steps. It resulted in cut cables at Vidéotron and ATMs stuffed with urethane foam at Sécur.

Under the Canada Labour Code as it stands today labour disputes are longer and tougher, yet Ottawa still refuses to include anti-scab provisions.

Here are a few numbers. 2003 was a record year for the number of lost person-days. It is important to note that this sad record is due for the most part to strikes in companies under federal jurisdiction, which usually last a lot longer.

Indeed, 57% of the total lost person-days in 2003 were at a company under federal jurisdiction, namely Vidéotron.

It is more than ever necessary to ban the hiring of replacement workers during a labour dispute to reduce violence on the picket lines and help reach a fair balance of powers between employers and employees during negotiations.

There is a very broad consensus among various unions on the need to adopt anti-scab legislation.

It is a necessity in today's world because it allows for greater transparency in a labour dispute. This bill would not cost the government anything. The current government interferes in so many files that are not under its constitutional jurisdiction. It should start by assuming the responsibilities that properly belong to it.

I will conclude my short speech by saying that it could be used by our Liberal colleagues across the way as a working paper. It might help them realize how important it would be for the House to pass anti-scab legislation.

This would show the government's interest in workers who are governed by the Canada Labour Code.

We wonder why there is anti-scab legislation in Quebec, when our next door neighbour, which is governed by the Canada Labour Code, is not entitled to these measures. It can be frustrating for someone to see that his work has been taken over by someone else while he is outside, without salary, availing himself of his rights to better working conditions.

This is why unions are with workers. That is the only time that people can stand up and tell the employer that they are unhappy with all the clauses of the collective agreement and that they want to have the right to strike.

They want to tell their employer that theyare doing without their salary for a period of time, but that, essentially, they want better working conditions. How do you expect them to have better working conditions if, while they are on strike or locked out, they are being replaced with scabs who do their work?

I think that, in such a case, the employer is not in a rush to try to solve the conflict. When the union and the employer want to negotiate in good faith, negotiations go on and scabs are always welcome during that period. Frustration sets in and rises as time goes by, while these people are on the sidewalk waiting to go back to their work.