An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Catherine Bell  NDP

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

Status

Not active, as of May 17, 2006
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The purpose of this enactment is to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

The enactment also provides for the imposition of a fine for an offence.

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.

Bill C-415--Canada Labour Code--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on May 1, 2007, concerning Bill C-415 standing in the name of the hon. member for Davenport and Bill C-257 which, until recently, stood on the order paper in the name of the hon. member for Gatineau. Both bills amend the Canada Labour Code in relation to replacement workers.

I would like to thank the hon. Government House Leader for raising this matter, as well as the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for his intervention.

The hon. government House leader began by reminding the Chair that it has already been obliged to rule on the issue of the similarity of another bill, Bill C-295, to Bill C-257. He commented that Bill C-415 is thus the third bill banning the use of replacement workers introduced in this Parliament alone.

The hon. government House leader expressed the view that Bill C-415 and Bill C-257 share the same purpose, namely, the banning of replacement workers; that they both accomplish this purpose by amendments to the Canada Labour Code; and that they differ only in one clause and one subsection. He reminded the Chair that Standing Order 86(4) prohibits the consideration of two items of private members' business “so similar as to be substantially the same” and cited House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at pages 476 and 477, to the effect that, “two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of”.

The hon. government House leader referred again to the ruling delivered on November 7, 2006 with respect to the alleged similarity between Bill C-257 and Bill C-295. He argued that the principle underlying the Chair's decision not to allow further consideration of Bill C-295, that the two bills “have exactly the same objective”, is equally applicable to Bill C-257 and Bill C-415. He dismissed provisions of the latter bill safeguarding essential services during a strike as ancillary to its purpose and cautioned the Chair that a decision to permit further consideration of Bill C-415 would amount to a revisiting of its ruling on Bill C-257.

In his brief submission, the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River pointed out that a determination, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(1), by the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with respect to the votability of Bill C-415 is imminent and may be material to the disposition of this point of order.

Having reviewed these submissions with care, the Chair takes the view that the fundamental question before it may be phrased this way: Would any motion or decision of the House in connection with Bill C-415 be out of order because of the bill's similarity in substance to Bill C-257?

Of considerable relevance in this regard is the ruling delivered on February 27, 2007 with respect to the admissibility of several amendments to Bill C-257 adopted by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. It was the hon. government House leader who presented so persuasive a case against the admissibility of those amendments that the Chair accepted his arguments. Ironically, his very persuasiveness on that occasion presents considerable difficulty to the case he is making today.

Two of these amendments to Bill C-257 provided for the maintenance of essential services in terms similar to specific provisions found in Bill C-415 and, of course, not originally included in Bill C-257. My ruling determined that these amendments exceeded the scope of Bill C-257 and I declined to accept arguments that they served only to clarify the bill's provisions with respect to replacement workers.

On April 28, 1992, at page 9801 of the Debates, Mr. Speaker Fraser warned that a committee:

—cannot go beyond the scope of the bill as passed at second reading, and it cannot reach back to the parent act to make further amendments not contemplated in the bill no matter how tempting that may be.

In his point of order, the hon. government House leader claimed that the two bills “have exactly the same objective”, relying in part on the fact that both bills accomplish their objectives by means of amendments to the Canada Labour Code. While this is certainly the case, only Bill C-415 amends section 87.4 of the Code which deals with the concept of essential services. It thus incorporates provisions not originally contemplated in Bill C-257 whose scope, as confirmed by my earlier ruling, was judged to be limited to measures regulating the use of replacement workers during a strike. In the view of the Chair, the amendments to section 87.4 of the Code included in Bill C-415 also invalidate any claim that the two bills, in Mr. Speaker Fraser's words, “obtain their purpose by the same means”.

A bill regulating the use of replacement workers need not deal with essential services. Providing for essential services in the event of the strike could quite legitimately have been the objective of a separate bill. Because of the inclusion of essential services in it, Bill C-415 has a broader scope than Bill C-257, despite similarity in addressing the issue of replacement workers.

Consequently, in fulfilling its duty pursuant to Standing Order 86, the Chair does not find that Bill C-415 is substantially the same as Bill C-257 and accordingly, the consideration of Bill C-415 may proceed.

I would like once again to thank the hon. government House leader for bringing this matter to the attention of the Chair.

Bill C-415—Canada Labour CodePoints of orderOral Questions

May 1st, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, this is a point of order regarding Bill C-415, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

I would first like to point out that bills to ban the use of replacement workers have been introduced six previous times since 2004, and defeated twice. In this Parliament alone, it is the third attempt at similar legislation, and the House has already voted against this idea.

Given that this bill is virtually identical to Bill C-257, with only one new clause and one new subsection, I would ask that you, Mr. Speaker, clarify two points.

First, I would ask for you to clarify whether it is in order for Bill C-415 to have been introduced. Standing Order 86(4) provides that the Speaker is responsible for determining whether two or more items that are similar can be placed on notice.

Mr. Speaker Fraser stated, on November 2, 1989, that a bill would not be placed on notice if it had the same purpose as another private member's bill before the House and if it met this purpose by the same means as that other bill.

Bill C-257 and Bill C-415 clearly have the same purpose, namely to ban the use of replacement workers. They also seek to meet this purpose by virtually the same means. They both amend the Canada Labour Code and are identical apart from one clause and one subsection. They contain the identical paragraph in their summaries, stating that their purpose:

—is to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

Since Standing Order 86(4) does not specify that bills must be identical but they must “so similar as to be substantially the same”, I submit that Bill C-415 is so similar as to be substantially the same as Bill C-257, and I would ask that you, Mr. Speaker, clarify this issue for the House.

The second issue on which I request your ruling is whether this bill can be called for debate and vote. Marleau and Montpetit indicate at page 495:

A decision once made cannot be questioned again but must stand as the judgement of the House. Thus, for example, if a bill or motion is rejected, it cannot be revived in the same session.

Allowing Bill C-415 to proceed to a vote would be inconsistent with this rule and with the rule of anticipation. As Marleau and Montpetit note, at page 476:

—two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of. If the first bill is withdrawn, the second may be proceeded with. If a decision is taken on the first bill, the other may not be proceeded with.

On November 7, 2006, respecting Bill C-257 and Bill C-295, you ruled that the second bill could not proceed because:

—a careful examination of both bills reveals that they have exactly the same objective, that is, to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

There we were dealing with a question of similar legislation. Bill C-295, Bill C-257 and Bill C-415 are aimed at the same objective on replacement workers.

I would argue to you, Mr. Speaker, and suggest to you with respect, that your ruling on November 7, 2006, applies equally in this case to Bill C-415. You indicated that you were at the time ruling on the issue bearing in mind Mr. Speaker Fraser's ruling of November 2, 1989.

I reiterate that Bill C-415 has exactly the same objective as Bill C-257, which the House rejected at report stage on March 21. As a result, allowing Bill C-415 to proceed would mean that the House would reconsider its decision with respect to Bill C-257.

The purpose of Bill C-415 is exactly the same as that of Bill C-257, namely to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees during a strike or lockout.

Bill C-415 seeks to do so by the same means as Bill C-257, namely by amending subsection 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code.

Members opposite may suggest that the bills are not similar and that Bill C-415 differs because it refers to the preservation of essential services during a strike. However, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that is not the purpose of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to ban replacement workers.

The apparent difference from Bill C-257 is not in fact a material one. Bill C-415 would not create a new category of essential services. Nor would it designate a group of workers to perform this work. Rather, it simply recasts as “essential services” existing provisions in the Canada Labour Code, which obliges services to be maintained during a strike or lockout in order to “prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public”.

Since Bill C-257 would not have affected these existing protections in the code, simply adding a provision about essential services to Bill C-415 does make it substantively any different than Bill C-257.

Therefore, the purpose of both these bills is simply to ban the use of replacement workers. As I have already indicated, Bill C-415 does not alter the means to use to achieve this purpose which is primarily by amending section 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code.

By allowing Bill C-415 to proceed, Mr. Speaker, you will be asking the House to revisit its decision on Bill C-257, which is not permitted. I submit that it should not be called for debate or for a vote and would ask that you rule on that question.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

December 6th, 2006 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I wish to inform the House that in accordance with the recommendations contained in the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that was concurred in by the House on Monday, November 27, I have received notification from the member for Vancouver Island North requesting that the order for second reading of Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), be discharged and the bill withdrawn.

Consequently, the order for second reading of Bill C-295 is revoked and the bill is dropped from the order paper.

(Order discharged and bill withdrawn)

In addition, the hon. member for Vancouver Island North has placed on notice another item of private members' business, Motion No. 262, which she has indicated, in accordance with the recommendation of the committee, she wishes to substitute for Bill C-295, and which therefore will be placed at the bottom of the order of precedence.

I thank all hon. members for the opportunity to make this statement.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2006 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), presented to the House earlier this day be concurred in.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 27th, 2006 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 23rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This report deals with Bill C- 295, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

Further to the Speaker's ruling of November 7, the committee recommends the following:

--that the member for Vancouver Island North have the option of Bill C-295 being debated in the House for a second hour but the bill will be declared non-votable; or [the member] can advise the Speaker in writing within five days of the adoption of this report that she wishes to have

(1) Bill C-295 withdrawn and the order for second reading discharged; and

(2) that she be given a period of up to 20 sitting days from the adoption of this report to specify another item of Private Members' Business, and, notwithstanding any other Standing Order, such item shall be immediately placed at the bottom of the Order of Precedence; such item shall be entitled to two hours of debate and shall be votable, subject to the application of Standing Orders 86 to 99.

I intend to seek concurrence in this report later this day.

Alleged Similarity of Private Members' Bills--Speaker's RulingPoints of Order

November 7th, 2006 / 10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is now prepared to rule on a point of order raised by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River on November 1, 2006, concerning Bill C-257, standing in the name of the hon. member for Gatineau, and Bill C-295, standing in the name of the hon. member for Vancouver Island North. Both bills amend the Canada Labour Code in relation to replacement workers.

I want to begin by thanking the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for having raised this matter and the hon. member for Vancouver East for having made a submission.

In his presentation, the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River argues that these bills are substantially the same, except for some minor differences relating to fines. A decision was taken by the House on October 18 to adopt Bill C-257 at second reading and refer it to committee. The hon. member argues, in light of this decision, that debate should not continue on Bill C-295 and that the bill should be removed from the order of precedence.

The hon. member for Vancouver East contends that although both bills deal with the same subject, they are different and, therefore, Bill C-295 should not be removed from the order of precedence.

Let me first clarify our practices with regard to items of private members’ business which are similar. Standing Order 86(4) states:

The Speaker shall be responsible for determining whether two or more items are so similar as to be substantially the same, in which case he or she shall so inform the member or members whose items were received last and the same shall be returned to the member or members without having appeared on the notice paper.

When this Standing Order was first adopted, private members' business operated very differently than it does today. The Standing Orders provided for only 20 items of private members' business to be placed by lottery on the order of precedence and provided that, of those, only three bills could come to a vote. Realistically, then, there was little chance that bills considered substantially the same would ever be drawn together and placed on the order of precedence, let alone be debated and voted upon. Given those odds, Standing Order 86(4) came to be involved only rarely: only when a bill was identical to one already introduced would it be refused. This generous interpretation is referred to in a ruling of Mr. Speaker Fraser on November 2, 1989, at pages 5474-5 of Debates, where he states:

I should say that in the view of the Chair, two or more items are substantially the same if, first, they have the same purpose and, second, they obtain their purpose by the same means.

Accordingly, there could be several bills addressing the same subject, but if they took a different approach to the issue the Chair would judge them to be sufficiently different so as not to be substantially the same.

The intent...was to give members an opportunity to put before the House items of concern to them, but to prevent a multiplicity of identical bills being submitted....

As Mr. Speaker Fraser explained, this interpretation had the practical effect of giving a member an opportunity to bring forward a legislative proposal on any subject, regardless of what other members might be doing. This practice has served members well until the present case.

The current Standing Orders, which were first adopted provisionally in May 2003, provide for a single draw of the names of all members at the beginning of a Parliament. On the 20th sitting day following the draw, the first 30 members on the list who have introduced a bill or given notice of a motion on the notice paper, constitute the order of precedence. Following the draw, the subcommittee on private members' business needs to determine if any of the items should be designated non-votable pursuant to Standing Order 91.1. In determining whether any of the items should be deemed non-votable, the subcommittee considers whether or not any of the bills or motions are substantially the same as ones already voted on by the House of Commons in the current session.

In the case at hand, a careful examination of both bills reveals that they have exactly the same objective, that is, to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out. The following minor differences distinguish them: First, Bill C-257 provides for a fine not exceeding $1,000 for each day that an offence occurs, whereas Bill C-295 provides for a fine not exceeding $10,000; second, Bill C-257 contains subparagraph (2.1)(f) in clause 2 concerning prohibitions relating to the use of replacement workers, text that is not found in Bill C-295; and third, subclause (2.2) in Bill C-257 appears as subclause (2.9) in Bill C-295.

Other than these three differences, both bills are identical in terms of their legislative and procedural impact. The only concrete difference between them relates to the sum of the fines. While this is an important matter, it does not make the bills into distinctly different legislative initiatives. The Chair must therefore conclude that both bills are substantially the same and achieve their objectives through the same means.

The question then becomes, should the second bill, Bill C-295, be allowed to proceed?

It seems to the Chair that there is considerable risk involved in allowing bills that are substantially the same to be debated. It puts at risk a key principle of parliamentary procedure, namely, that a decision once made cannot be questioned again, but must stand as the judgment of the House.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 495, explains that the principle exists for very good reason.

This is to prevent the time of the House from being used in the discussion of motions of the same nature with the possibility of contradictory decisions being arrived at in the course of the same session.

In the present case, we have an unusual convergence of circumstances. Not only were the bills sponsored by the hon. members for Gatineau and Vancouver Island North both placed on the notice paper, their names were also among the first 30 drawn for the order of precedence. Moreover, the subcommittee on private members' business faced with the fact that debate had yet to begin on items of private members' business could not deem one of the bills to be non-votable since the House had not yet taken any decisions on such business.

Today, the Chair has found itself in an unprecedented situation. I have concluded that Bill C-295 is substantially the same as Bill C-257. Ordinarily, I would order Bill C-295 to be dropped from the order paper in conformity with this standing order. However, given that this situation has never arisen before, I am reluctant to make a final ruling since this may be the only opportunity in this Parliament that the hon. member for Vancouver Island North gets to have an item on the order of precedence. At the same time, the Chair cannot allow the bill to go forward for its last hour of debate and the vote that would follow.

So, instead, in accordance with Standing Order 94(1), which provides the Speaker with the authority to make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of private members' business, I am ordering that Bill C-295 be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence.

This delay in the consideration of Bill C-295 is designed to provide the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with sufficient time to examine this matter and suggest some resolution to the situation for the sponsor of the bill. The committee should also consider whether our practices in relation to the application of Standing Order 86(4) continue to serve the House in an effective manner given that our rules respecting private members' business have changed since this Standing Order was first adopted.

In the absence of a solution to the predicament of the sponsor of Bill C-295, the Chair will have no option when the bill next reaches the top of the order of precedence, I will order that debate not proceed, that the order for the bill's consideration be discharged and that the bill be dropped from the order paper.

Once Again, I thank the hon. members for Scarborough—Rouge River and for Vancouver East for having brought this situation to the attention of the Chair and of the House. It is an important contribution to the evolution of private members' business.

I believe the effect of the ruling will be that there will be no private members' business taken up this evening.

Alleged Similarity of Private Members' BillsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 2006 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I did not hear the beginning of the comments of the member who has raised the question about Bill C-257 and Bill C-295, but I have the general gist of it. There are a number of issues here as well as concerns that we would want to put forward, because it is our member who has introduced Bill C-295.

The first point I would make is that when these bills were introduced they were approved by the Table. They both came forward in good faith, so certainly to suggest now that through some other arbitrary measure or ruling by the Speaker or that you somehow make a decision that one bill would be removed, I think that would very much place this member in limbo.

The fact is that these two bills, although they deal with the same subject matter, that is, replacement workers, are different bills. There are differences between the two bills, for example, in the question of penalties. I do not have the two bills before me so I cannot go through them clause by clause, but there are differences in these bills. That is why they were permitted in the first place.

If you made such a ruling as requested by the member from the Liberal Party, what would happen to that member who has the second bill? She has proceeded in good faith. She is about to go to a second hour of debate. If she chooses to make some other arrangement with a member in terms of the order in which things come up, that is her prerogative, but to have that decided by a third party, whether it is you or somebody else, I think would be very unusual. I do not know on what basis that would be done. I would be very concerned that she would lose the position she has. I think that would actually set a precedent, because then where else would it happen in private members' business?

I understand the concerns of the member, but I think to take such an action through the Speaker and to remove that member's place would be highly unusual and very problematic. The bill is now here and it is in effect the property of the House. I really question whether or not what the member is suggesting is a wise thing to do in the long run and so I would ask you to take that under advisement if you are going to consider this question.

Alleged Similarity of Private Members' BillsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 1st, 2006 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, this point of order concerns the presence of Bill C-257 and Bill C-295 on our order paper. Both of these bills are private members' bills and they provide for prohibitions on the use by employers in federal jurisdictions of replacement workers during a strike. Bill C-257 was passed at second reading by this House on October 25, last week.

Both of these bills are substantially the same and I proceed on the assumption that the Speaker will agree that they are substantially the same, one minor difference between them being that the quantum of a fine or penalty for an infraction is slightly different.

The passage or adoption of both of these bills would create a legal impossibility or confusion here for our Parliament and for the public. The House is now faced with this issue. Fortunately, we do have some wisdom of a previous House to rely on.

The question is, what should happen to the second bill, which the House has not voted on yet? I refer to the ruling of the Speaker in this chamber on October 29, 1957, almost exactly 49 years ago, when a bill introduced by a member to provide for vacation pay for employees in federal jurisdictions was substantially the same as a government bill then introduced. From the journal, the Speaker quotes from Erskine May, 15th Edition, page 499:

There is no rule or custom which restrains the presentation of two or more bills relating to the same subject, and containing similar provisions. But if a decision of the House has already been taken on one such bill, for example, if the bill has been given or refused a second reading, the other is not proceeded with if it contains substantially the same provisions, and such a bill could not have been introduced on a motion for leave. But if a bill is withdrawn, after having made progress, another bill with the same objects may be proceeded with.

Here I refer the Speaker also to Beauchesne's sixth edition, at page 198, note 653.

If the Chair agrees that because of the adoption of Bill C-257 last week some step must be taken to deal with Bill C-295, the question is, then, what is to be done?

Bill C-295 is currently on the order of precedence and could ordinarily move to a second hour of debate and a vote as early as next week, I think next Tuesday. I think it is clear that this bill should not be further debated and should not be voted on at second reading. The bill should be removed from the order of precedence because that listing is specifically designed to provide for debate and disposition by the House.

I would submit that it is not necessary to have the bill totally withdrawn because it is possible that Bill C-257, which was passed, could be defeated or negatively dealt with by this House or a committee in the future.The way would then be clear for the mover of Bill C-295 to proceed with that bill.

However, we should also note that the member introducing Bill C-295, which has not been dealt with at second reading by the House, has already been selected by our rules to move a bill that he has selected, and he has chosen this one. It would be arguably unfair to prejudice his position by placing him and his bill back in the initial order paper, at the back of the line behind all of the members who have private members' business.

What I am suggesting is that the Speaker place the bill aside in a type of procedural holding place, a procedural position not yet provided for in our rules but adverted to in the 1957 Speaker's ruling, so that the bill could be placed on the order of precedence again in this session, or even in a subsequent session, if that is consistent with the procedures for private members bills'. As for Bill C-257, if it is defeated or otherwise removed from the order paper, this issue could also be reviewed, of course, by the procedure and House affairs Committee.

I hope my comments are helpful to the Chair and will enable the Speaker to take the most appropriate action on this matter.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 22nd, 2006 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the NDP member for Vancouver Island North, for her presentation and clarifications. I especially want to thank her for introducing this anti-scab bill.

As hon. members are aware, last June, the Bloc Québécois, represented by my colleague from Gatineau, introduced Bill C-257 in this House. This bill truly prohibits replacement workers, because the existing Canadian legislation does not.

At present, part III of the Canada Labour Code prohibits replacement workers, but an employer just has to keep negotiating with a union, or pretend to be negotiating, in order to hire as many replacement workers as it wants.

This is the tenth time the Bloc Québécois has introduced an anti-scab bill in this House. Some bills died on the order paper, while others were not votable. The second-last bill was defeated by 18 votes and the last bill, in 2005, by 12 votes. We intend to carry the vote in late October. We will do everything in our power to win it.

This House can see that we are in good shape to win the vote on this bill, because the NDP will support us. Moreover, every Liberal member who has spoken in this House has promised to support us. Things are looking good, and we are confident that our Liberal colleagues will eventually decide as a group, this time publicly and officially, to support both the Bloc Québécois bill and the NDP bill.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of improving conditions for workers, who make a vital contribution to our society's economic well-being and quality of life. Clearly, the Bloc Québécois will support our NDP colleague's bill.

However, because Bill C-257 will be put to a vote first and will pass, we trust that it will not be necessary to hold a second vote on a nearly identical bill. There are slight differences between the two bills, and I would have liked the member for Vancouver Island North to describe them, because our bill seems more comprehensive and appears to cover a greater variety of situations. That said, we support Bill C-295 introduced by the NDP.

The benefits of a bill like this one are well known. Currently, there are two classes of workers in Quebec, one of which falls under the Quebec labour code. They have the right to very effective anti-scab legislation that makes for shorter, less violent disputes and contributes to a more positive work environment. This is perfectly clear because Quebec has had legislation in place since 1977; the facts are obvious.

I would like to cite a few statistics, but one has only to look to see the situation clearly. Anyone who watches TV news reports or reads the newspapers will have noted that over the past 30 years, the longest, most violent, most difficult strikes, those that produce the most arduous labour disputes, are the ones that take place within organizations that fall under federal jurisdiction.

I would like to try to refresh the minister's memory. Vidéotron: an extremely violent strike that lasted 10 months during which many Vidéotron facilities were vandalized. Sécur: more vandalism and another long and difficult dispute that lasted three months.

Cargill: 38 months—that is more than three years. This conflict caused wounds to the community of Baie-Comeau that have yet to heal.

The Radio-Nord Communications strike lasted nearly two years—22 months, to be precise. My favourite—if I can call it that—because it was the most ridiculous of them all, was the labour dispute at radio station CHNC in Bonaventure. It lasted three years. After two years, the 12 replacement workers demanded membership in the union.

Clearly, this is senseless. The replacement worker option leads to just the kind of difficulties and absurd situations as those the Bonaventure radio station experienced. The minister stated his point of view, but I do not agree at all.

The first time that he spoke in this House against the Bloc Québécois' proposed bill, he referred to studies and analyses conducted by the Montreal Economic Institute and the Fraser Institute. Those analyses were strange, to say the least, because they were based on outdated information—the figures were from 1960 to 1999. The studies had been conducted in very large businesses, although the Quebec economy is based primarily on SMEs. There are data much more recent than those of 1999. On the strength of the Fraser Institute study, the Minister of Labour had argued that there was less investing in those provinces that have anti-scab legislation.

We were quick to point out that those two studies made no sense and that investing depends on many other factors besides anti-scab legislation. In any case, the statistics we see do not correspond to this argument.

He found other arguments to justify the fact that he was against the bill. In 1991, the Minister of Labour voted to support an anti-scab bill. I would point out that, at the time, he was a member of the same party, but he had the interests of the workers in his riding at heart. He represents the riding of Jonquière—Alma, which has one of the highest degree of union representation of any riding in Quebec, if not all of Canada.

How is it, then, that he supported anti-scab legislation a few years ago, but he no longer supports it now?

On May 1, 2006, he replied to me in this House that, being theMinister of Labour, he now had to consider the issue from a Canadian perspective. It was very interesting, because he seemed to be in agreement. In his introduction, he said that it was desirable in Quebec, because of its distinct society. I do not agree with that either, because I believe we are a nation. He chose to translate it by "distinct society". Thus, he was saying that Quebec is a distinct society and that anti-scab legislation is part of its traditions, but since he was now a minister, he had to view things from a Canadian perspective.

Is it possible that the Minister of Labour has cashed in his social conscience for a limousine? Would that be possible? I ask the question because it is just too incredible. In 1991, he agreed and today he no longer does because he is the minister.

Does this mean that he would agree if he were a mere MP today? Imagine that the member for Jonquière—Alma, Minister of Labour, truly wishes to defend the interests of the workers in his riding. Then should he not, in caucus and cabinet, seek to convince his colleagues and the ministers of the Conservative Party of the pertinence of an anti-scab bill for which he voted in 1991 and which, he believes, is part of Quebec's traditions? That is what he said last May.

Now he only sees the disadvantages of this legislation. He says it is not based on proof and that it has no advantages. I will not repeat each of his arguments, but it is impossible that there are no advantages. It is impossible that there has been such a law in Quebec for 30 years that has no advantages for workers or for industry. The latter are not complaining and have adapted quite well to this law. I doubt they would go so far as to promote it but they are living quite well with it.

It is an exaggeration to say that there is not a single advantage; it means that it is insignificant.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 22nd, 2006 / 2 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-295, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, replacement workers.

The House may find that it is experiencing a bit of déjà vu, as the House is also considering Bill C-257, a bill with the same title, same principle and same goal. Nonetheless, I am pleased to speak today and address this important labour issue.

I have a bit of a different perspective than most members on labour issues. I grew up in eastern Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. The House is familiar with the strife, fighting and the unrest that existed in many former Warsaw Pact countries. The transition to communism brought much upheaval to communities all across eastern Europe. We all had to make significant lifestyle changes while living under its powerful grip. Thankfully, my family came to Canada in the 1960s. We came to a land of peace, social security and balance. I am shaped by my childhood experiences, as we all are, and I do not take the social cohesion and solidarity we enjoy in this country for granted.

Peaceful relations between employers and workers are the norm in Canada. This was the case in the 1960s and it still is today. We must do what we can to ensure that we continue to enjoy social security as well as labour, peace and stability.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines economy as the state of a country or area in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money. We often equate the economy with finances but it is much more than that. It is a human construct of perimeters that include a whole range of human activities.

A stable economy, in my view, brings with it peace, security and an environment in which people may gain a livelihood. People may work, enjoy leisure time, spend time with families and friends, pursue hobbies and engage in sports, academics or whatever they may choose.

No one should underestimate the influence of the labour movement on our day to day activities and our economy in the above sense. Peace and stability in the labour movement ensures that we may enjoy our lives to the fullest extent possible.

I grew up in an environment where this was not possible because of the power of the Communist dogma and the labour unrest and discontent that it entailed. The tensions were high between the working class and the government. Trust me when I say that this is not a situation in which anyone should want to find himself or herself. That is why I chose to speak today.

An act that restricts replacement workers from being hired during a strike or lockout is important. It is important for workers, for employers and, ultimately, for all Canadians.

Anti-replacement worker legislation is presently on the books in British Columbia and Quebec. This is an important policy for ensuring that rights are respected and all stakeholders are brought to the table. Such legislation may help to end strikes or lockouts sooner. It can help bring people together to make compromises and ensures an end to the work disruption, which comes at a later time.

Anti-replacement worker legislation is about encouraging all players to come together to find common ground and find the solution. A lockout or strike inevitably entails tension, hard feelings and stress between workers and management. We must seize the opportunity to help reduce tensions and bring the parties together on some sort of equal footing.

The principle of this legislation and Bill C-257 allows the Canada Labour Code to be a progressive document. We have a duty as parliamentarians to look after both the interests of workers and employers. We can best do this by respecting human rights, ensuring an inclusive environment and a level playing field for all.

I have spent the last few minutes speaking in support of the principle of the bill. It is unfortunate, though, that the House has to deal with Bill C-295. We already have another legislative proposal, Bill C-257 on the order paper. I question why the hon. member for Vancouver Island North introduced Bill C-295 after an almost identical bill was introduced just 13 days prior to her own bill.

As a result, I question the efficiency of the House having to deal with Bill C-295. It would be much more efficient and more conducive to realize the goal of the legislation if we were to all work together and urge our colleagues to support Bill C-257 which was already on the order paper. This way the House could have spoken with one voice on this matter in a much more focused fashion.

Even the leaders of the Canadian Labour Congress want to see one piece of legislation because it means a better chance of something actually getting passed in the House. With anti-replacement legislation already on the order paper, this would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for the hon. member for Vancouver Island North. As she knows, private members do not often get the opportunity to bring the issue that matters to them most to the floor of the House.

As I was lucky to be number eight in the private members' draw, I put a motion on rural route mail delivery before the House. In my view, she could have worked with the member for Gatineau on the replacement worker legislation and introduced another bill or motion on another important issue in her riding. After all, every constituency has several matters that deserve attention. In that way she could have had her anti-replacement worker legislation and addressed another subject of importance to her constituents.

For that reason, I find it very difficult to support Bill C-295. I support the principle but, with another similar bill ahead of it in the queue, Bill C-257, it just does not make sense, from the viewpoint of efficiency, for the House and it is not in the interest of employer-labour relations.

Let us put our support behind workers and employers in a focused fashion and speak with one voice. A legislative proposal of this kind has been before the House several times before. Let us work together in a concrete fashion, like we are urging employers and workers to do, and get Bill C-257 to committee so it can be further studied and we can hear from stakeholders and experts in the field.

I have a riding that is very much engaged with the Canadian economy. A number of head offices and headquarters are located in Oak Ridges—Markham and I have a very low unemployment rate. As a matter of fact, I am pleased to host a business seminar in my riding.

On October 11 in Markham, Public Works and Government Services Canada will be doing a seminar presentation on how to do business with the Government of Canada. I am pleased to host this seminar which would be useful for any enterprise in attempting to promote its goods and services to the Government of Canada.

I congratulate members for raising the issue of replacement workers in the House and I look forward to hearing from my colleagues in the debates that follow.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 22nd, 2006 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my colleague from Vancouver Island North for becoming involved in the democratic process and for making the effort to introduce a bill. However, I do not share her opinion, and I will explain why.

The Government of Canada carefully examined Bill C-295 and determined that we cannot support this bill, which amends the Canada Labour Code to prohibit the use of replacement workers in sectors under federal jurisdiction.

The Government of Canada reached this conclusion after taking a careful look at the bill and in light of two very basic principles. First, does the proposed legislation maintain the fragile balance needed in labour-management relations, which are so vital to Canada's economic and social performance? Second, is there evidence to support the idea that such a law would benefit workers? The answer to these two questions is no.

Labour-management relations have repercussions on both management and unions, and any law that concerns those relations must take both parties' aspirations into account. I would just like to mention that the repercussions of labour-management relations go far beyond the two parties' concerns. I will explain.

Labour-management relations affect Canada's economic and social performance. They affect production, employment, salary gains, profits, individual incomes, productivity and competitiveness, to name just a few of the main aspects of an economic and social system. A government must keep this broader picture in mind when making appropriate laws in the area of labour-management relations. There is a basic principle that should always be taken into account. This principle calls for a balance between the aspirations of unions and those of management and requires that the greater national interest always be kept in mind.

The second principle—the principle of evidence—is equally important. Before a law is amended, there should be clear evidence that the change will be beneficial. What is important here is balance. The current system is in line with the two principles I have described.

The Canada Labour Code was amended in 1999, barely seven years ago, in an attempt to modernize our legislation and improve collective bargaining. During consultations, balance was achieved, and it was approved by unions and employers alike.

In fact, both sides presented legitimate arguments regarding the issue to be considered and, in a fair and transparent manner, the government took the time to examine all arguments before enacting the legislation, which, still to this day, respects the interests of both parties as well as national interests.

The provisions regarding replacement workers in the Canada Labour Code that were enacted in 1999 are balanced, work well, and do not need to be amended. The current provisions reflect the approach agreed upon by stakeholders within the unions following extensive consultation when Part I of the Canada Labour Code was amended in 1999. The current provisions take into account not only the interests of those two sides, but also national interests.

Bear in mind that this legislation regulates the federal private sector, which includes all the main industries of the infrastructure that ensures the proper functioning of our economy, such as air, rail, sea and ground transportation, to name a few. For those who may not be familiar with the details of the current system, allow me to explain how the existing legislation brings a balanced approach to the issue of replacement workers.

Current provisions do not impose a general prohibition on replacement workers, but they do ban the use of replacement workers if the intent is to undermine a union's representational capacity.

The employees in a union or an employee association, if they feel wronged, can file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board if they believe the employer is indeed using an unfair labour practice.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board has the mandate and expertise to resolve such problems, which they review quite quickly.

What are the problems with this bill? Allow me to explain how the situation would change if this bill were enacted. If passed, this bill would disrupt the balance of the interests, a disruption that would hinder the effectiveness and efficiency of the collective bargaining process.

The main economic leverage of the unions during the collective bargaining process is their right to strike. The employer's countervailing power is not the right to a lockout; it is the right to try for a short period to continue to operate its business with a certain limited capacity during a work stoppage until the problems are resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Such is the true test of the economic force that stems from the results of the appropriate collective bargaining for the economic situation of the day.

A total ban on the use of replacement workers would paralyze the economic right of employers to operate in a slow economy and could lead them, unfortunately, to structure their business so as to reduce their dependence on permanent employees for fear of being vulnerable.

This would be inconsistent with the workers' interests and would undermine the fragile balance currently contained in our labour legislation.

The other principle is that of evidence. As I mentioned earlier, there is absolutely no evidence that the proposed change in the bill would help workers.

Allow me to address some essential variables that are clearly important for the workers.

First, there is no evidence that legislation on replacement workers reduces the number of work stoppages. In fact, Quebec continues to have many more work stoppages than Ontario, which does not ban the use of replacement workers. For example, in 2005, Quebec had twice as many work stoppages as Ontario and four times as many as in the federal sector.

Second, there is no evidence that legislation on replacement workers means work stoppages are shorter. For example, the average duration of work stoppages in Quebec was 47 days compared to 38 in Ontario, between 2003 and 2005.

Third, there is no proof that legislation governing replacement workers would reduce the average duration of work stoppages. For example, despite Quebec legislation to that effect, the average work stoppage in that province rose from an average length of 37 days, for the 1975-1977 period, to an average of 47 days for the 2003-2005 period.

Fourth, there is no proof that legislation governing replacement workers reduces the number of days of work lost. For example, Quebec lost 1.5 times the number of working days lost in Ontario, on a comparable basis, during the same period of 2003 to 2005.

Finally, there is no proof that replacement worker legislation has any effect on salaries. For example, Ontario does not have such legislation and British Columbia does; in both provinces, wage settlements in 2005 were marginally lower than in Quebec.

Thus, there is no evidence indicating that prohibiting the use of replacement workers has any of the alleged benefits for workers. First, there are no fewer work stoppages; second, work stoppages that do occur are not any shorter; and third, it has no visible effect on the number of days lost or the amount of salary increases.

To conclude, I would like to reaffirm that principles should dictate our strategic response: the principles of national interests and evidence that justifies the amendment being sought. In both cases, there is no justification for amending the law.

Today, union relations in the federal private sector are the best they have ever been. Last year, over 95% of conflicts governed by the Canada Labour Code were resolved without work stoppages.

Most federally-regulated employers do not hire replacement workers. In many cases, managers or other employees excluded from negotiations are reassigned in order to maintain operations.

Consequently, the Government of Canada cannot support this bill as it does not respect the two major principles for legislative reform: it is not based on evidence and it has no benefit to the national economy.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 22nd, 2006 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

moved that Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand in the House to debate C-295, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code to prohibit the use of strikebreakers

Strikebreakers, scabs and replacement workers, call them whatever, they have no place in modern labour negotiations. The issue has been coming up in the House for well over 20 years. Similar bills have come close to being passed that would eliminate the use of strikebreakers.

In 2002 and 2005, anti-scab bills were lost by only a handful of votes. It is time for this Parliament to deliver what Canadian workers have been asking for: fairness, justice and equality.

I would like to recognize the work that our party has done over the years for labour rights in Canada. We have fought, since our inception, to bring equity and fairness to workers because what is good for workers is good for all Canadians.

The NDP understands that workers' rights are human rights, that workers have fought for and won the right to form unions, to bargain collectively, to withdraw their labour to achieve gains in the workplace, or to stop destructive practices.

Personally, I feel very strongly about this amendment. Working in the labour movement for over 12 years, I have seen firsthand the devastation that scabs have on a workforce and in communities. I have seen families torn apart and alienated over many years because of an ideology that does not support workers' rights.

Fair wages, a safe workplace, health care and pensions are just some of the things that the labour movement and collective bargaining have achieved. Many of these things are now taken for granted, gains that our forefathers and mothers fought for and even died for, so that future generations would have better working conditions and better lives.

The bill that we are debating today is fundamental to protecting those hard-fought gains. The bill contains a consequence when workers' rights are ignored. Without real deterrents the use of strikebreakers will continue to erode the legacy of generations of past workers.

The bill is similar to another private member's bill currently making its way through the House. I would like to thank my hon. colleagues from the Bloc for the work that they are doing, and have done in the past, standing up for working women and men in Quebec. The province of Quebec understands and respects the rights of workers and has had anti-scab legislation for almost 30 years.

I hope my hon. colleagues will support this bill and give workers across the country the real protection that they deserve.

C-295 is a much stronger amendment to the Canada Labour Code. It would prohibit the use of replacement workers and it has a real deterrent, a consequence if replacement workers are used in a strike or lockout. Without deterrents that will make employers think twice before breaking the law, the amendment is less effective and leaves workers without protection.

I know there will be arguments from other hon. members who disagree with this amendment, so let me say how these changes will benefit workers and their employers, their workplaces, the community and the economy.

Currently, 97% of collective agreements are negotiated without a strike or lockout. That is because most employers know they have a legal responsibility to negotiate with their unionized employees. However, when that does not happen, when an abusive employer ignores that responsibility and strikebreakers are called in, tensions rise in the workplace and on the picket line. Both sides generally get dug into their positions and the strike or lockout is left to drag on. The scabs are generally caught in the middle of what becomes a volatile situation and are often used by the employer.

These situations leave lasting scars on workplaces and communities and sometimes never fully heal. The cost in reduced or lost production can have devastating effects on local economies for many years to come.

By eliminating the practice of scab labour, we are likely to see the amount of strikes and lockouts drop and those that do happen will not last as long.

In Quebec, for example, since adopting anti-scab legislation in its labour code, it has gone from an average of 39 days lost due to strikes down to 15 days. In B.C. there was a 50% drop in the number of days lost in the first year the law was introduced there. In Ontario, where it had anti-scab law in place for only two years, there were similar results.

Shorter lockouts and strikes mean the impact of work stoppages on families and communities is lessened. As strikes and lockouts drag on, other businesses suffer. Workers on strike or locked out do not have the money to spend that they once had. This can have a prolonged impact on small and single industry towns and that impact could last for many years after the dispute.

Scabs are also generally exploited. They tend to be desperate, in need of a job, and can be paid less than unionized workers to do the same job. They have no job security. The conditions they work in are generally worse as health and safety standards, hours or work, as well as other conditions of the collective agreement do not apply to them.

By lowering working standards we are putting workers' safety and possibly other lives in jeopardy. Scab workers bring out the worst in employers and employees. Their use creates strife and malice. Those who do cross a picket line are not quickly forgotten.

C-295 would go a long way toward reducing tension and violence on a picket line. Strikes and lockouts are hard enough without watching day after day someone else goes in to do someone's job. Sometimes tensions and frustrations build until it is expressed in violence.

There is evidence that domestic violence increases during periods of labour unrest. While violence is never excusable, it helps to understand the root cause so we can act to prevent this type of behaviour.

By ending scab labour we will create a more peaceful picket line. Resentment on both sides will not be as strong and therefore productivity and company loyalty will return sooner, making the employee-employer relationship much more healthy and productive.

Others have argued that the current labour code already deals with replacement workers. They point out that the current law, subsection 94(2.1), which reads in part:

No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall use, for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a trade union’s representational capacity rather than the pursuit of legitimate bargaining objectives, the services of a person who was not an employee in the bargaining unit--

It goes on to state that this current language was created through consultation between labour and management and is therefore fair and balanced.

However, subsection 94(2.1) explicitly allows the use of scabs, replacement workers, as long as the employer is not undermining the collective bargaining process. By their very nature, scabs undermine collective bargaining.

When they are used, there is no incentive for employers to go back to the bargaining table and bargain in good faith with their employees. If there is no ability to use replacement workers at all, the ability to undermine the bargaining process would be diminished.

The Ekati diamond mine strike in the Northwest Territories is a recent example of how employers like BHP Billiton, a multi-billion dollar a year company, took advantage of the current legislation. During negotiations, BHP tried to remove articles that had previously been negotiated and it took the union months to present its case in front of the labour relations board even though BHP was in clear violation of the labour code.

The company continued to operate with replacement workers and there was no significant penalty for trying to undermine the collective bargaining process. Without serious deterrents or consequences there is nothing stopping this type of behaviour from happening again.

Another recent lockout of Telus employees that was allowed to drag on for months causing tension on both sides could have been a lot shorter if the company did not have the ability to use replacement workers. I salute all those workers who hung in there to maintain the gains that they made under very trying circumstances.

We know this legislation can work. In Quebec, there has been virtual silence from employers whenever the labour code is up for review. In my home province of B.C. in 2002, the government left the anti-scab clauses alone in its rewrite of the provincial labour code. It knows, as employers do, that anti-scab legislation works.

Progressive changes at the federal level will send a strong signal to the remaining provincial governments to introduce bills to end the use of replacement workers.

Canada's federal labour laws cover one out of every ten jobs across the country, jobs that play a critical role in our national economy. In today's world, reducing the risk of disruption at our borders, airports and telecommunications networks is vital. This debate has gone on for well over 20 years. I am sure that if we listen closely, we can still hear the sound of the previous debates echoing in the chamber.

As parliamentarians, we must come together and say, no, to the arcane and destructive practices of using scabs, replacement workers and strike breakers. We must do what is in the best interests of working families. We must support this crucial amendment to the Canada Labour Code.

Speaker's RulingCanada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

September 20th, 2006 / 6 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 6, 2006 by the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean in relation to the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-257, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

I would like to thank the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean for his very thorough presentation, as well as the hon. member for Vancouver East and the hon. government House leader for their contributions on this point. The Chair appreciates greatly the seriousness with which they have approached this matter.

The central issue relates to clause 2 of the bill, which would insert new provisions in section 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code allowing the minister to designate investigators who would have the power to verify and report on whether replacement workers were being employed during a strike or lockout.

The key question is whether the designation of these investigators constitutes an authorization for new spending for a distinct purpose. As part of its review of the bill in attempting to find an answer to this question, it is helpful for the Chair to determine whether new functions are being contemplated or whether the functions proposed are already foreseen as being part of the usual workload of existing personnel.

With regard to Bill C-257, the Chair has taken note of the points raised by the hon. members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Vancouver East, namely that other sections of the Canada Labour Code contain provisions for inspectors, albeit not for investigators. Sections 248 to 251 describe the duties of inspectors who may inquire into employment in any industrial establishment, and in particular, matters relating to wages, hours of work, or conditions of employment.

Do the new provisions proposed in Bill C-257 alter the statutory functions of inspectors so significantly as to require a royal recommendation? The hon. members for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and for Vancouver East made arguments to the contrary and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform did not contest those submissions.

Having heard arguments and reviewed the provisions of the parent act that describe the duties of inspectors, the Chair is prepared to conclude that the provisions in Bill C-257 which relate to the designation of investigators by the minister do not constitute an authorization for new spending for a distinct purpose. The functions which are already being performed by inspectors would appear to be reasonably similar to the functions envisaged by Bill C-257.

Therefore, I am prepared to conclude that Bill C-257–in its present form–may continue to be considered by the House of Commons without the need for a royal recommendation.

As the hon. member for Vancouver East has rightly pointed out, BillC-295, standing in the name of the hon. member for Vancouver Island North, is very similar in nature to BillC-257 and indeed contains provisions that are identical, particularly with regard to the work to be performed by investigators.

Accordingly, I am prepared to indicate to the House immediately that Bill C-295 does not require a royal recommendation.

As members can appreciate, the determination as to what legislative initiatives require a royal recommendation can be a highly complex exercise. At the outset, the Chair wishes to dispel any notion that there is one set of rules on the royal recommendation for majority government situations and another for minority government situations. The preoccupations of the Chair concerning the royal recommendation may seem to be new, but are well grounded in constitutional principles and will continue to exist regardless of the composition of the House.

As I indicated in my statement to the House on May 31, 2006, the reforms adopted in 2003, the coming into force of which has coincided with the minority situation that has since prevailed, have resulted in more private member's bills being votable, thereby increasing the number of bills with the potential to reach the third reading stage.

In addition, as members have only one opportunity to sponsor an item over the course of a Parliament, the Chair has sought to provide members with ample opportunity to address possible procedural issues in relation to their bills. For these reasons, a number of new practices have been instituted.

Where it seems likely that a bill may need a royal recommendation, the member who has requested to have it drafted will be informed of that fact by the legislative counsel responsible for drafting the bill. A table officer will also send a letter to advise the member that the bill may require a royal recommendation.

The Chair relies on our clerks and on our legislative counsel to make a first determination on what may appear to infringe on this financial initiative of the Crown. Of course, our clerks and legislative counsel are wise in these matters but they are not omniscient. That is why the Chair alerts members when, prima facie, a provision appears to contain a new authority to spend. Members are then expected to rise and explain precisely what these initiatives entail, so that a final judgment may be made.

To reiterate what I indicated on May 31, I would welcome any suggestions from the House, the House leaders or the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, on how to improve this process related to the royal recommendation.

In the meantime, to conclude, Bill C-257, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), and Bill C-295 which has the same title, may proceed as they stand, neither requiring a royal recommendation.

Once again, I thank all hon. members for their patience in dealing with this complicated issue.

It being 6:12 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.