An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

This bill was previously introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Russ Hiebert  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to require that labour organizations provide financial information to the Minister for public disclosure.

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.

Votes

Dec. 12, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Dec. 12, 2012 Passed That Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), be concurred in at report stage with further amendments.
Dec. 12, 2012 Passed That Bill C-377, in Clause 1, be amended by : (a) replacing lines 1 to 7 on page 2 with the following: “(2) Every labour organization and every labour trust shall, by way of electronic filing (as defined in subsection 150.1(1)) and within six months from the end of each fiscal period, file with the Minister an information return for the year, in prescribed form and containing prescribed information. (3) The information return referred to” (b) replacing lines 26 to 31 on page 2 with the following: “assets — with all transactions and all disbursements, the cumulative value of which in respect of a particular payer or payee for the period is greater than $5,000, shown as separate entries along with the name of the payer and payee and setting out for each of those transactions and disbursements its purpose and description and the specific amount that has been paid or received, or that is to be paid or received, and including” (c) replacing lines 33 to 35 on page 2 with the following: “(ii) a statement of loans exceeding $250 receivable from officers, employees, members or businesses,” (d) replacing line 4 on page 3 with the following: “to officers, directors and trustees, to employees with compensation over $100,000 and to persons in positions of authority who would reasonably be expected to have, in the ordinary course, access to material information about the business, operations, assets or revenue of the labour organization or labour trust, including” (e) replacing lines 11 to 14 on page 3 with the following: “consideration provided, (vii.1) a statement with a reasonable estimate of the percentage of time dedicated by persons referred to in subparagraph (vii) to each of political activities, lobbying activities and other non-labour relations activities, (viii) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements to” (f) replacing lines 22 to 25 on page 3 with the following: “provided, “(viii.1) a statement with a reasonable estimate of the percentage of time dedicated by persons referred to in subparagraph (viii) to each of political activities, lobbying activities and other non-labour relations activities, (ix) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on” (g) replacing lines 33 to 40 on page 3 with the following: “(xiii) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on administration, (xiv) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on general overhead, (xv) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on organizing activities, (xvi) statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on collective bargaining activities,” (h) replacing lines 1 and 2 on page 4 with the following: “(xix) a statement with the aggregate amount of disbursements on legal activities, excluding information protected by solicitor-client privilege, (xix.1) a statement of disbursements (other than disbursements included in a statement referred to in any of subparagraphs (iv), (vii), (viii) and (ix) to (xix)) on all activities other than those that are primarily carried on for members of the labour organization or labour trust, excluding information protected by solicitor-client privilege, and” (i) replacing lines 4 to 13 on page 4 with the following: “( c) a statement for the fiscal period listing the sales of investments and fixed assets to, and the purchases of investments and fixed assets from, non-arm’s length parties, including for each property a description of the property and its cost, book value and sale price; ( d) a statement for the fiscal period listing all other transactions with non-arm’s length parties; and ( e) in the case of a labour organization or” (j) replacing line 29 on page 4 with the following: “contained in the information return” (k) replacing lines 33 to 35 on page 4 with the following: “Internet site in a searchable format. (5) For greater certainty, a disbursement referred to in any of subparagraphs (3)( b)(viii) to (xx) includes a disbursement made through a third party or contractor. (6) Subsection (2) does not apply to ( a) a labour-sponsored venture capital corporation; and ( b) a labour trust the activities and operations of which are limited exclusively to the administration, management or investments of a deferred profit sharing plan, an employee life and health trust, a group sickness or accident insurance plan, a group term life insurance policy, a private health services plan, a registered pension plan or a supplementary unemployment benefit plan. (7) Subsection (3) does not require the reporting of ( a) information, regarding disbursements and transactions of, or the value of investments held by, a labour trust (other than a trust described in paragraph (6)(b)), that is limited exclusively to the direct expenditures or transactions by the labour trust in respect of a plan, trust or policy described in paragraph (6)(b); ( b) the address of a person in respect of whom paragraph (3)(b) applies; or ( c) the name of a payer or payee in respect of a statement referred to in any of subparagraphs (3)(b)(i), (v), (ix), (xiii) to (xvi) and (xix).”
Dec. 12, 2012 Failed That Bill C-377, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 20 on page 1 with the following: “labour organization is a signatory and also includes activities associated with advice, commentary or advocacy provided by an employer organization in respect of labour relations activities, collective bargaining, employment standards, occupational health and safety, the regulation of trades, apprenticeship, the organization of work or any other workplace matter.”
March 14, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

News Media IndustryOral Questions

May 29th, 2019 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we know that a strong, independent media is essential to the functioning of a healthy democracy. That is why we wanted to make sure, on our independent panel, that unlike what the Conservatives want, it is not just newspaper owners and media giants that are on that panel. We need to make sure that hard-working journalists are well represented on that panel as well.

On this side of the House, we will always defend labour and we will always defend workers, unlike the Conservatives, who attack organized labour at every chance they get, including with Bill C-525 and Bill C-377 in the last Parliament.

News Media IndustryOral Questions

May 28th, 2019 / 2:20 p.m.
See context

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I wonder where the member opposite's high dungeon was when her government was bringing in anti-union legislation, Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, which were the very first things we eliminated when Canadians voted the Conservatives out and voted Liberals back in.

We will always respect organized labour in the country. We will work with it and the hundreds of thousands of Canadians it represents.

We are going to continue to stand up for an independent media. That means supporting employers and employees.

Government PrioritiesOral Questions

May 1st, 2019 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our government has been unequivocal in our support for labour, and we are happy to celebrate that this May Day.

There is no question that since forming government, we passed Bill C-4 to eliminate the unfair Bill C-525 and Bill C-377 that Harper passed. We amended the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated employees the right to flexible work arrangements and implement different leaves. We strengthened occupational health and safety standards. We passed Bill C-65 to protect federally regulated employees from workplace harassment and violence.

We will continually stand up for labour and stand up for workers across Canada.

Canada PostAdjournment Proceedings

April 8th, 2019 / 6:55 p.m.
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Nickel Belt Ontario

Liberal

Marc Serré LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Rural Economic Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for bringing up this important issue.

I am happy to rise today to speak about our government's introduction of back-to-work legislation to ensure the resumption and continuation of services at Canada Post.

Our government has always recognized that unions play an important role in protecting workers' rights and in growing the middle class.

I would remind the House that under the previous government, many of the fundamental labour rights that unions fought to secure were rolled back. It was more difficult for workers to organize freely, bargain collectively in good faith and work in a safe environment.

When we came to power, we restored fair and balanced labour laws that recognize the important role that unions play in Canada. We abolished Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, which weakened Canada's union movement.

We recognize that unions are important in helping the middle class grow and prosper. We also believe in a fair and balanced approach to labour relations.

This is why the government did everything it could to support Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and encourage them to sign new collective agreements.

However, despite our efforts, the parties were unable to reach an agreement. We brought in back-to-work legislation, Bill C-89-, on November 22. The rotating strikes ended and postal services resumed.

On December 10, the Minister of Labour appointed Elizabeth MacPherson, a former chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board, to help the parties reach new collective agreements.

The most recent collective agreements have been extended until new agreements can be reached. The work stoppage at Canada Post has had significant negative impacts on Canadians, charities, businesses of all sizes, international commerce and Canada Post, its workers and their families.

Canadians and businesses rely on Canada Post and its workers, especially during the busy retail season. We had to take action. Let me be clear that back-to-work legislation was a last resort, but a necessary one after having exhausted all other options. It was necessary to avoid future harm to the economy.

We took these steps, and we continue to ensure that there is fair negotiations between Canada Post and its union to reach a negotiated settlement.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

April 1st, 2019 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Madam Speaker, I am happy to join this debate on Bill C-420. I had to check my prepared text. I actually agreed with a number of points my colleague across the way made. I wanted to make sure that we had it right in the text.

I would like to use my time to speak about the current situation and where we are with the three prominent issues that arise from this piece of legislation: the use of replacement workers, the situation for pregnant and nursing employees, and the Charter of the French Language in Quebec. Through my comments I hope I will be able to share with the chamber and with colleagues the concerns the government has with this piece of legislation.

Let us start with replacement workers. The Canada Labour Code balances a union's right to strike with an employer's right to attempt to continue operating despite a work stoppage. The current provisions in part 1 of the code already limit the use of replacement workers. Indeed, federally regulated employers cannot use replacement workers to undermine a union's representational capacity. In fact, federally regulated private sector employers rarely use replacement workers. More often, management, supervisors and other non-bargaining personnel are reassigned to take the place of striking workers.

The current provisions in the code related to replacement workers are the result of a broad and comprehensive review that represents a carefully crafted compromise between the interests of employers and the interests of trade unions that could not be achieved through a private member's bill or through the private member's bill process.

In the past, both labour and employer organizations have been highly critical of changes being made to federal labour relations legislation through the use of private member's bills without prior consultation with all stakeholders.

The Canadian Labour Congress has said in the past:

...we urge the federal government to stop the introduction of one-off changes to the Canada Labour Code. Amendments should not be made through private members' bills. They should be made with concerted pre-legislative consultation that engages employers, unions and government.

Members who were in the House at the time will remember that one of the first actions our government took was to repeal the Conservative private member's bills Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, which upset the balance of rights and responsibilities between federally regulated employers and unions.

Good labour relations are a key element of an economic system, and indeed, of the prosperity of this country. If legislative changes are to be considered for part 1 of the code, let us do it the right way, through real and meaningful consultation and engagement with unions, employers and all stakeholders.

The current provision in the code was achieved through a thorough and meaningful tripartite process. It strikes a balance between the interests of unions and the interests of employers. It allows each side to exercise pressure on the other. If passed, Bill C-420 could upset that balance.

Regarding pregnant and nursing employees, the code currently contains provisions that give a pregnant or nursing employee the right to ask to be reassigned or to have her job modified, without loss of pay or benefits, if there is a risk to her health or the health of the fetus or the child. If a reassignment is not possible, the woman may take a leave of absence for the duration of that risk.

Also, an employee may be entitled to leave with pay to obtain a medical certificate or while waiting for her employer to respond to a reassignment request. Any additional leave is without pay. However, the employee may be entitled to benefits under an insurance plan or a sick leave program provided by the employer or to benefits through the employment insurance program.

As mentioned by my colleague across the way, the fact is that currently only Quebec specifically offers preventative withdrawal job protection with wage replacement for pregnant and nursing women.

If passed, Bill C-420 would put pressure on provinces and territories that do not have preventative withdrawal provisions. Moreover, our government is already supporting another related private member's bill, Bill C-243, an act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy, which was passed in the House June 14, 2017, and is currently being studied by the other place.

The purpose of Bill C-243 is to consult on the development and implementation of a national maternity assistance program strategy. The objective is to support women who are unable to work due to pregnancy and whose employer is unable to accommodate them by providing reassignment. If Bill C-243 passes, it would require consultations with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders. It is reasonable to believe that the results of such consultations would have an impact on the mechanism proposed in Bill C-420.

Finally, I will speak about the Charter of the French Language in Quebec. In 1982, the Constitution Act enshrined English and French as Canada's official languages. It also provided that they have equality of status in all institutions of Parliament and of the Government of Canada.

Two separate statutes regulate the language of work in Quebec: the Charter of the French Language, enacted 1997, and federally, the Official Languages Act, enacted in 1969 and revised in 1988.

While the government is sensitive to the preference of francophone Quebeckers to work in French, there is little documented evidence that francophones face difficulties working in French in federally regulated private enterprises in Quebec. In fact, according to the 2016 census in Quebec, an increasing number of workers whose mother tongue is English or another language use French as their main language at work or equally with English. About 48% of workers whose mother tongue is another language primarily used French at work in 2016. That is compared to 46.5% in 2006. Similarly, about 25% of workers whose mother tongue is English mainly used French at work in 2016, compared to 23% in 2006. That is an increase in both measurements. Moreover, the federal labour program has never received a complaint from a federally regulated private sector employee in Quebec concerning an inability to work in French. Indeed, in 2013, a government report concluded that these employees are generally able to work in French in their workplaces.

One last thing I must point out is that corporations active in Quebec, including those incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act, are already required, under provincial law, to comply with the Charter of the French Language, which includes having a French name when registering to carry on business in Quebec.

There we have it: Canada's current position when it comes to replacement workers, pregnant and nursing employees and the Charter of the French Language in Quebec. Now that members can see the full picture, they can understand why the government cannot support Bill C-420.

Canada Post CorporationAdjournment Proceedings

January 30th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Madam Speaker, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke made a reference, early on in her comments, to collective bargaining. I know it is somewhat obscure for the member, having gone through 10 years of the Stephen Harper government, who showed nothing short of distain for organized labour and collective bargaining in this country while they were in power. We saw that time and time again. A record four times they used back-to-work legislation in their last Parliament, and there were two other occasions when they had it on the shelf. They were ready to pull it off the shelf during labour disputes. It was pretty much a template for back-to-work legislation: insert labour organization here and insert date here. We saw it time and again.

We saw bills like Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. Might I add that the government the member was part of did not even have the courage to submit them as a government. Conservatives put them through the back door through private member's legislation and brought them to the House to try to put it to organized labour in this country. Yes, we have a different approach to organized labour and to collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining is something this government believes in, and back-to-work legislation is an absolute last resort. We know that Canada Post and CUPW had been in negotiations for over a year. There was no sign of a settlement. There was no indication that a settlement could be reached. We had time and time again sent in mediators and arbitrators. At the end of the day, we knew that the rotating strikes being undertaken were hurting the Canadian economy, and we knew that we had to take action to make that situation right.

CFIB identified in a survey that it impacted almost two-thirds of Canadian businesses. During that critical time of the year, I know that in my riding of Cape Breton—Canso, businesses that make their stake between November and Christmas in the export sector were being impacted not just by delays in the mail but by the uncertainty that was being created by the rotating strikes. That is why we ended up taking the initiative, and as a last resort, tabled back-to-work legislation.

We know that the piece of legislation we tabled was considerably different from the legislation tabled by past the Conservative government, where there was a prescription for a resolution. We put in an arbitrator who would look at factors around health and safety issues and gender parity on wages. Those were issues we felt were imperative, and that is where the situation lies now, in the hands of Elizabeth MacPherson. We thought it was the best way forward, not just for the corporation, not just for the workers, but for all Canadians.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

January 30th, 2019 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the House for permitting me to be a part of the debate on Bill C-420, tabled by my colleague the hon. member for Mirabel.

First of all, I would like to remind the House what this bill is about.

Bill C-420 would amend the Canada Labour Code, also known as the code, in order to accomplish three things.

First, it would prohibit employers from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

Second, it would authorize the minister of labour to enter into an agreement with the government of a province to provide for the application to pregnant and nursing employees of certain provisions of the provincial legislation concerning occupational health and safety.

Lastly, Bill C-420 would amend the Canada Labour Code, the Official Languages Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act to clarify the application of the Charter of the French Language in Quebec.

Tabling the bill gives us the opportunity to review the Government of Canada's actions in regard to labour relations especially, as well as in regard to working conditions for pregnant and nursing employees.

I want to use my time today to go over some of the actions that have been taken.

Let us talk first about what Bill C-420 proposes to do with regard to replacement workers and labour relations reform in Canada.

The bill seeks to amend the code to make it an offence for employers to hire replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on a lawful work stoppage. Any contravention of this provision would entail a fine of up to $10,000 for the employer. The bill would also permit an employer to not reinstate any locked out or striking employee at the end of the work stoppage.

We have to keep in mind that amending the code can have an impact on labour relations if it is not done properly. Any proposed amendment requires a broader comprehensive review of part I, as well as a tripartite consultation process that involves the government, the labour movement and, of course, employers. In fact, all concerned parties, including academics and external stakeholders, should be consulted since these reforms would affect a great number of Canadians across the country.

It is a long-standing practice not to amend the code in a piecemeal fashion or without soliciting the input of affected stakeholders. The current provisions in the code are the result of such a review and represent a carefully crafted compromise between the interests of employers and trade unions.

Let me provide an example. In 1995, a working group, mandated by the minister of labour, led an extensive public consultation on part I of the code. Workers, employers and government stakeholders were consulted, as well as external stakeholders, such as academics and others, who could provide relevant insight. The working group's report, entitled “Seeking a Balance”, formed the basis of the significant changes to part I of the code that came into effect in 1999.

The consultation process is critical to any legislative changes made to industrial relations at the federal level and our government has always respected that.

Since our government took office, we have been committed to re-establishing a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada. Re-establishing a climate of collaboration and developing evidence-based policies is our objective. The very first step we took in that direction was to table Bill C-4 to repeal Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. We did this because Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 were both adopted without having been through the aforementioned tripartite consultation process typically applied to labour law reforms. This process is an essential part of the foundation that supports free collective bargaining.

Let us talk now about pregnant and nursing employees. The health and safety of all workers, including pregnant and nursing workers, is a priority for our government. Let us not forget that federally regulated workers everywhere in Canada are very well protected by the strong provisions on preventive withdrawal provided for in the code. In fact, the code contains provisions on reassignments and leaves of absence for pregnant and nursing employees. These provisions provide protective measures to help them to pursue their employment in a safe environment.

In addition to provisions already in place, our government has taken a number of actions to ensure the health and safety of all employees, including pregnant and nursing employees. First, we have put forward new compliance and enforcement measures for occupational health and safety standards and labour standards. These measures include monetary penalties and administrative fees for employers who are repeat offenders, the authority to publish the names of these employers, greater power for inspectors, new recourse against reprisals, and improvements in the wage-recovery process.

Next, we have introduced amendments to the code to give federally regulated private sector employees the right to request flexible work arrangements. We have also put forward a series of new leave provisions, including a five-day personal leave, of which three days are paid, and five days of paid leave for victims of family violence, out of a total of 10 days of leave.

In addition to these provisions, other recently introduced amendments to the code would provide eligible working parents with improved access to maternity and parental leave once these amendments come into effect.

On top of all that, I must remind everyone that the government supported Bill C-243, an act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy. The bill is now in the other House for review.

Let us now turn our attention to the Charter of the French Language in Quebec. The 1982 Constitution Act, which enshrines English and French as our country's official languages, provides that both these languages be given equal status in all governmental and parliamentary institutions. Additionally, two separate statutes, the Quebec charter and the federal Official Languages Act, regulate the language of work in Quebec. Active companies in Quebec, including those incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act, are already required under provincial law to comply with the Charter of the French Language. That includes being registered under a French name.

Consider also that the labour program has never received any complaints from federally regulated private sector employees in Quebec concerning an inability to work in French. This is backed up by a 2013 government report that concluded that these employees in Quebec seem generally able to work in French in their workplaces. If we look at Quebec's 2016 census, there are, in fact, an increasing number of workers using French as their main language, or equally with English, while on the job. Between 2006 and 2016, the rate of workers whose mother tongue was English and who mainly used French at work rose from about 23% to 25%. Meanwhile, workers whose mother tongue was a language other than English or French and who mainly used French on the job increased from 46.5% to 48% during this same period.

As members can see, our government is proactive not only on the issue of labour relations, but also on the issue of working conditions for all Canadians, including pregnant or nursing women, as well as on the issue of language of work for federally regulated employees in Quebec.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Mirabel, for his important work on Bill C-420.

LabourOral Questions

December 12th, 2018 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning, this government has worked in partnership with organized labour in the country. Among the very first things we did was eliminate Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, the anti-union bills the Conservatives had put forward. We then continued to work with labour, ensuring we would get to the bargaining table between labour and employers. We have demonstrated the tripartite working model works very well.

We know we are not always going to agree on everything with organized labour. However, we do know that basing everything on a respectful approach that values the contributions of labour and the strength of the middle class of the country is the way to do it.

EmploymentOral Questions

December 10th, 2018 / 2:35 p.m.
See context

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, our government believes in a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada. That is why we repealed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, the Harper Conservatives' anti-union bills, as one of the very first things we did when we came into office.

We are aware of the situation at the Montreal airport and are monitoring it very closely.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2018 / 12:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the House for the opportunity to close the debate. I wish we were not closing the debate at this time, but considering that the time was allocated so severely in the motion that set the context for this debate, it is an honour to close it.

I will close it by addressing what I think was one of the principal arguments that we heard from the Liberals throughout the debate today, which is that they really had no choice and this crisis is beyond their control. What we have heard consistently throughout the debate today is that is not the case. Postal workers have been on rotating strikes, but the mail is getting delivered. In fact, in some parts of the country, there has only been a disturbance for one day out of the five weeks that Canada Post has had rotating strikes. I am sorry but that does not a crisis make.

I know there are small businesses and Canadians who want to receive their packages and the fact is that postal workers want to deliver those packages, but they do not want a circumstance where one in four of them can expect to get hurt doing it and not be able to enjoy Christmas with his or her family because he or she was injured working in unreasonable conditions that have persisted at Canada Post for a very long time now. That is what the government is asking those workers to do: to go into a workplace with the highest rate of injuries in the federal sector. We just think that is completely unacceptable and we do not believe we had to be here.

We have heard the labour minister defend this all day, and that is a shame. The person who should have been on her feet all day is the minister responsible for Canada Post, who has failed to put in management that is willing to address the real workplace issues and causing workers to get hurt, who has failed to address the mandatory overtime that is disrupting the family life of workers at Canada Post and contributing to the injury rate, and who has failed to put management in place at Canada Post that would address the real pay equity issues that exist between rural and suburban carriers and urban carriers. If we had real leadership from the minister who is actually responsible for the corporation, we could have avoided this situation.

To hear the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour talk about a crisis as if the government has no control over it is a little rich. Frankly, Liberals are asking too much of postal workers who were legislated back to work under bad terms and conditions in 2011 and have been doing their utmost to make sure that people continue to receive their mail reliably at a great cost to either themselves or their colleagues. This was an opportunity to do something about that.

We have heard a plethora of excuses from the Liberals as to why, even though they are undermining the collective bargaining rights of Canadians with back-to-work legislation, we should accept it because they got rid of Bill C-377, a major objection to which was the fact that it would reveal the contents of union strike funds to employers. The idea of getting rid of that legislation was to support union workers being able to strike and not be undermined by their employers. If the government is going to repeal that legislation with one hand and then legislate them back to work and artificially end the strike on the other hand, it amounts to the same thing: it undermines the right to collective bargaining.

We have heard about hard decisions. The fact of the matter is that governments do have to make hard decisions, but what is not true is that every time a government has to make a hard decision, workers get the short end of the stick.

When Air Canada went to the Liberal government early in its mandate and said it wanted to get rid of the provisions that required it to have its maintenance work done in Canada because it wanted to do the work offshore, the Liberals jumped to the pump and got it done. They made sure the corporate executives at Air Canada got what they wanted.

When big multinational companies went to the Liberals throughout the TPP negotiations—and they had an opportunity to substantially renegotiate the TPP deal—they decided to continue with the temporary worker provisions. Again we heard the Liberals say they were fixing the TFW program and making it better. Then they smuggled the provisions of that program into chapter 12 of the TPP. They could have done something for workers then, but no, they said it was time for hard decisions and sided with the big multinationals.

They did it again with their friends on Bay Street on the CEO stock option loophole. They were lobbied dozens of times to break an election commitment.

When that hard decision came up, what did they do? The Liberals sided with the folks on Bay Street and broke their election commitment. Workers are going to pay the price for that, and are paying the price for that, because then they are told, “I'm sorry, we don't have the money to do what we want to do.”

When it came to Netflix paying its fair share, Netflix came and lobbied. It was time for a hard decision. What decision did the Liberals make? They again sided with the large multinational so that it would not have to pay its share.

On the carbon tax, when the biggest polluters and the biggest moneymakers came to them and said they wanted a break on the carbon tax, unlike for everyone else, the Liberals granted it to them. That is the theme.

Whenever there is a hard decision, workers lose with the Liberal government. That is the problem.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Chair, I am glad the member opposite realizes that we have a high degree of respect for organized labour and, in fact, such a degree of respect that the first piece of legislation we introduced and passed was Bill C-4, which restored the rights of organized labour to collectively bargain and organize. It repealed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377, two very harmful pieces of legislation that the Conservatives had rammed through the House in an effort to diminish the ability of organized labour to grow its movement, to work, as the member pointed out, on ensuring that there is decent work for people all across the country.

We also ratified ILO Convention 98, which guarantees the right to organize and collectively bargain. We have introduced legislation that we worked on with unions which unions have been calling for, for decades. These are things like pay equity, federally regulated proactive pay equity, something that unions have been calling for, including the union involved in this dispute, flexible work arrangements, and protection of federally regulated workers from violence or harassment in the workplace. In this respect, I would refer to Bill C-65, which recently passed. We have introduced updates to the Canada Labour Code to modernize it and protect the most vulnerable in the workplace, again in partnership with organized labour. The list goes on in terms of the work we have done in partnership with unions, because we recognize the important role they play in establishing a standard that often protects the most vulnerable and people who are not unionized in this country.

I will also speak to the second part of the member's question. The member asked what we have done to ensure we could work with the parties to help them arrive at a collective agreement. From my perspective, we have done everything we can to support the parties to get there themselves. For example, over a year ago, both parties agreed to work with a mediator, so we appointed the federal mediation service early on in their talks to help them have productive talks and work through some of the substantial issues that both the union and the corporation were facing. The mediators worked with the parties for well over a year. When those talks broke down, they asked—

An Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Postal ServicesGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, some people have started their speeches by saying they are pleased to join in the debate. Make no mistake that it is difficult. The NDP likes to characterize it as something less than that, but members should be assured that this is an action this government has not undertaken lightly. This has been quite some time in the making.

Since coming to government after the October 2015 election, Canadians have seen, and certainly organized labour has seen, that we go about our business quite differently than the previous Conservative government did. We take a different approach to how we work with organized labour. Having been here during that 10-year period, it was nothing short of an attack on organized labour. From the outset, it was obvious that Stephen Harper had organized labour in his crosshairs and was willing to do what he had to do in order to throw a wrench into organized labour in this country.

We saw egregious bills like Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, bills which were purposeful in trying to handcuff unions in this country from being successful and from giving them any opportunity to grow and represent Canadian workers. It is unfortunate, because when we look at organized labour, we can certainly say that nobody has helped grow the middle class more than union leadership in this country, which fights for fair wages, fair benefit packages, overtime benefits and health and safety issues. It has been organized labour that has led those fights over the years. We, as Canadians, enjoy many of the benefits of those efforts.

When we became government, one of our first pieces of legislation was Bill C-4, which was legislation that led to overturning the egregious bills I just referenced, Bill C-525 and Bill C-377. We were trying to restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations. We were trying to restore a tripartite approach to developing labour laws in this country, where we have workers, employers and the government sitting down and crafting labour laws that protect us all and benefit us all.

We saw that thrown out of balance. We saw the attempt to change the Canada Labour Code through backdoor initiatives. Rather than using a tripartite approach, we saw it being changed by private members' legislation. We saw how much benefit it brought the Conservatives in the last election. Any organized labour, any rank and file member, in this country knew two numbers. They knew the number 377 and they knew the number 525, because both those bills were earmarked for organized labour.

We strengthened occupational health and safety standards in this country, because we believe every worker in this country has the right to arrive home safe to be with their families. We passed Bill C-65 to protect federally regulated employees from workplace harassment and violence. I try to give credit where credit is due, and I must say that both the Conservatives and the NDP were very helpful and supportive of this legislation. We have good legislation, one which has been a long time in the making and a long time coming, but certainly both opposition parties were supportive of it.

We ratified ILO Convention 98 to ensure the rights to organize and to enter into collective bargaining. That convention had been advocated for for over 40 years, and it was our minister who was able to get that ratified at the ILO, something which we are very proud of as a government.

In budget implementation act No. 2, we brought forward legislation that will modernize labour standards to reflect today's workplaces. This is something from which many in organized labour will not benefit as it is for the many unorganized workspaces where shop floors are not unionized. It is for people in precarious work who are trying to knit together two or three part-time jobs in order to make a living and pay the bills. These are the most vulnerable workers in this country.

The modernization of labour standards in this country is going to be of help to all of these workers. This helps make sure that contracts are not flipped and that benefits are not lost when contracts are changed so that if there is a seniority list and certain people have worked for the company for seven years, they are able to maintain the benefits they worked for and earned over seven years and not lose those benefits in any way. We are very pleased to be able to move forward on that.

We have introduced pay equity legislation to ensure fairness. This makes sure that people and women in this country get equal pay for fair and equal work. We have also doubled the benefits in the wage earner protection program.

These are all positive initiatives we have embarked on and undertaken in this government.

The banning of the domestic use and the import and export of asbestos is very important. This is something that the CLC, Unifor, Canada's Building Trades Unions and many others in organized labour have been fighting to get for years. We are working with organized labour and employers as well, taking a tripartite approach to making sure we get right the banning and abolition of asbestos.

We as a government are committed to free, collective bargaining, and we believe that a negotiated agreement is always the best solution in any industrial dispute. That is why we refrained for so long before we got involved in this particular dispute.

This dispute has gone on for a year. We were engaged right from the start, appointing a mediator to let both sides share their grievances and find a way to come to some kind of agreement. A mediator was involved for a year. As the strike vote was taken and as the rotating strike began five weeks ago, we even appointed a second mediator and then a special mediator.

These mediators were selected from a list. We provided a list, and both sides were able to weigh in on who the mediator should be so as to build trust in the mediation process and in the mediator himself. The mediator was agreed upon.

The minister was very clear yesterday. She has worked tirelessly, as has her staff and the department. They have done everything possible to assist the parties to reach an end to this dispute. Despite their efforts, CUPW and Canada Post just have not been able to get to an agreement. Therefore, it is with great reluctance that we have been left with no other option but to introduce back-to-work legislation to get our postal service back functioning at full capacity.

It is important to understand that we knew as the process evolved that it was probably going to land here because both sides were very entrenched on a couple of different aspects of the negotiation. It is important that Canadians and Canadian businesses who rely on Canada Post and its crucial infrastructure are able to do their business. We know that 70% of online purchases are delivered by Canada Post. We know that Canadians rely on it as a service and that it is critical to many Canadian businesses.

In my own riding I have a small company called Galloping Cows, an exceptional company owned by Ron and Joanne Schmidt. They make pepper jellies and chutneys. They are very busy at this time of the year. We have many people from my riding and Atlantic Canada whose children have moved away and are living elsewhere, some in Fort McMurray. Thus, the packages to Fort McMurray from Port Hood are always a big part of the business that Galloping Cows does each year, which, certainly from Remembrance Day to Christmas, could make or break this young business. They have really felt the impact. It is not just that orders have not been sent, but also the fear of those who have sent parcels already. That is a big part of it, the threat of not getting the parcels to people in time for Christmas.

Throughout these negotiations, the Government of Canada has been proactive and tireless in its attempts to have the parties reach an agreement. The minister has discussed this at length. Federal conciliation officers and mediators have been assisting the parties throughout their negotiations. We know that there have been a lot of side conversations with people. Beyond the actual negotiators, many people have wanted this to be resolved and have offered their input to try to find resolution to this. We appreciate their efforts.

However, when bargaining reached an impasse, we appointed a special mediator to bring a fresh set of eyes to the table. It is always of benefit when we can take some issues and look at them with a little bit of a different perspective.

The negotiations stalled again, so we offered voluntary arbitration. That was our suggestion. However, our government's offer of voluntary arbitration was declined. Thus, we have tried pretty much every club in the bag.

We also appointed a special mediator this week, in the hope of getting a deal. We have strongly encouraged the parties to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. We believe that a negotiated agreement is always the best solution.

No member of our government wants to be dealing with back-to-work legislation, but there is no end in sight and that is why we find ourselves in this situation. Canadians are feeling the effects of this dispute and it would be irresponsible for us not to act in the interests of all Canadians.

As I said initially, I can contrast our government's approach to organized labour to that of past Conservative governments. We can also look at the back-to-work legislation by the Conservatives in 2011. We know that after two weeks of rotating strikes, former prime minister Harper imposed back-to-work legislation on Canada Post and the postal workers of CUPW. It was interesting because we know that the minister at the time appointed an arbitrator herself, which is a little different from what we have done. We have appointed a mediator-arbitrator where mediation will be first and foremost.

That mediation I know was mentioned by the NDP member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He wanted me to remind him of the guiding principles, because he had talked about the health and safety issues.

I will quote subclause 11(3) of the legislation, which states:

In rendering a decision or selecting a final offer under paragraph (1)(b), the mediator-arbitrator is to be guided by the need

(a) to ensure that the health and safety of employees is protected;

(b) to ensure that the employees receive equal pay for work of equal value;

Those are the guiding principles, which are vastly different from the guiding principles of the legislation put forward by the Conservatives back in 2011. We know they worked against unions. We know that its legislation was very heavily weighted against unions.

That is certainly not the case with this legislation. We have proven to be a party that supports unions and workers, and that believes in the collective bargaining process. This is a last resort and not something that our government takes lightly.

When a strike or lockout impacts only the two parties involved, the government will help when asked and will not intervene. However, when it affects Canadians and Canadian businesses and all available avenues have been exhausted, the government has a responsibility to intervene. That is why we are bringing forward this legislation to require Canada Post workers to return to work.

In closing, Canadians need to know that the government has done and continues to do everything in its power to help the parties. In any industrial dispute, we are willing to help the parties resolve their differences without a work stoppage. A work stoppage helps no one, neither the workers and their lost wages, nor the communities and others impacted by the postal services that businesses use.

This legislation is no Harper-era legislation. We are not forcing specific conditions on the union. We just need to get to an agreement. If we had any hope at this point that the differences between CUPW and Canada Post were close to a resolution, we would not be tabling this legislation. However, after five weeks of rotating strikes, we are forced to say that it is time to act. The government has been working with CUPW and Canada Post for the last year and has done everything possible to prevent this dispute. Let us get back to work, get the postal service functioning at maximum efficiency and get the parties to a deal.

Canada PostOral Questions

November 23rd, 2018 / noon
See context

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague talks about progressive governments, I think he wants me to share with him just what we have done for labour.

We have repealed Bill C-525 and Bill C-377. We have amended the Canada Labour Code and given federally regulated employees the right to flexible work. We have strengthened occupational health and safety standards and passed Bill C-65. We have ratified the ILO. We have banned asbestos, both domestic and the international trade of asbestos.

I think that is pretty progressive.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedResumption and Continuation of Postal Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is poppycock. It is the same draconian measure as the Harper government. This is virtually the same motion it used when it legislated CP Rail workers back to work as well. This was a creation of Peter Van Loan, and the Liberals are now using it.

On the question of Bill C-377 and C-525, because the Liberals have made it pretty clear they want to coast through this entire Parliament, with this being the one meaningful thing they did for labour, the fact of the matter is one of the most egregious provisions of Bill C-377 was going to be that the unions would have to disclose the amount in their strike fund. The reason that was a bad thing was because unions need to be able to go out on strike and not have the employer know how long they could sustain a strike. The strike is what gives them leverage at the bargaining table.

How dare the minister get up and say they got rid of Bill C-377 so they are here for labour, ignoring the fact they are implementing back-to-work legislation. That ends the strike anyway, in which case, what does it matter what is in their strike fund, because the government is going to artificially end the strike anyway. They cannot give with one hand and take away with the other and then call themselves a champion of labour.

Motion that debate be not further adjournedResumption and Continuation of Postal Service Operations LegislationGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the member opposite wants to talk about the work we have been doing with labour and the support for workers in our country, because in fact there is no question that our government has taken the well-being of workers very seriously.

First, we repealed Bill C-525 and C-377. We passed Bill C-4, which restored fair and balanced labour relations in the country. It made it easier for organized labour to recruit new members and grow their movements. We amended the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated employees the right to flexible work arrangements and implement different leaves. We strengthened occupational health and safety standards. We passed Bill C-65, which provides federally regulated employees with protection against workplace violence. We ratified ILO convention 98 to ensure the right to organize and to collective bargaining.

Through Bill C-86, we are modernizing labour standards, largely informed by the conversations we have had with organized labour about the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces and the protections they need in a modern Canada Labour Code.

We introduced pay equity legislation. Again, it was appealed for by labour for many years before we formed government. We worked with them to make sure we could listen to those concerns and address something that is fundamentally a right: equal pay for work of equal value. We have almost doubled the benefits from the wage earner protection program.

I could go on. Our government profoundly believes in the rights of workers, especially the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces, and we have worked very well with organized labour to make sure we get those details right.