Turning now to the point of order, the hon. member asked me to divide the question on the bill pursuant to Standing Order 69.1 on omnibus bills. He argued that specific measures in the bill, namely clauses 461 and 462 dealing with protections for workers, and clauses 535 to 625, dealing with the head of compliance and enforcement, did not appear to arise out of measures announced in the budget. Therefore, in his view, these sections should be separated out for a distinct vote. He felt that there were likely other matters contained in the bill that were unrelated to the budget, but the short timeline had not permitted him the opportunity to make a thorough review.
The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader responded by saying that there was, indeed, a link between these measures and what was promised in the budget. In the case of the provisions relating to the head of compliance and enforcement, he indicated that the government had signalled its intention to amend and modernize the Canada Labour Code in last year’s budget and that these provisions were in response to that commitment.
Standing Order 69.1 allows the Speaker to divide the questions on the motions for second and third reading of a bill when there is no common element connecting the various provisions or where unrelated matters are linked. Paragraph (2) of that Standing Order provides an exemption for budget implementation bills, by which the question cannot be divided if the bill contains only provisions announced in the budget or referenced in the budget documents.
On November 8, 2017, in a ruling regarding Bill C-63 found at pages 15165 to 15167 of the Debates, I explained that:
I believe the purpose of the standing order is to allow such a division in relation to those matters which are unrelated to the budget, accepting that the purpose of the remainder of the bill is to implement the budget.
Therefore, the only question at issue is whether the provisions identified by the hon. member have any link to the budget presented in this place on February 27. If they do, then I would not separate them out for a distinct vote.
As I mentioned in the ruling last year, establishing such a link is not always obvious. The budget document is over 360 pages, accompanied by nearly 80 pages of supplemental tax information. Sometimes commitments are very specific and targeted, while other times the language may be vaguer. A generally stated policy intention may translate into a series of detailed and technical legislative amendments. Accordingly, a provision announced in a few sentences may require pages of legislative changes to implement. It is with this in mind that I have reviewed the provisions identified by the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
Clause 461 of the bill creates a new division VI.1 in the Canada Labour Code relating to temporary help agencies. The provisions seem to deal largely with matters relating to pay equity. Page 43 of the budget indicates that pay equity legislation will “include job types such as seasonal, temporary, part-time and full-time positions”. While this measure falls outside the pay equity act enacted by clause 416 and related measures in clauses 417 to 440, it seems reasonable to conclude that it is part of a series of provisions dealing with equal pay for equal work and fair treatment in the workplace, in line with the objective announced in the budget.
Clause 462 changes a heading in the Canada Labour Code relating to maternity leave and other types of leave. For many years, it was our practice that headings were not subject to amendment, as they were not considered to be part of a bill. However, in recent years, it has become more common to see clauses or amendments that change headings. In fact, this particular heading had previously been changed by Bill C-63.
The substance of the present change seems to be to group a list of different types of leave into a more concise heading. The parliamentary secretary noted that page 46 of the budget indicated that:
…the Government proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated industries have the job protection they need while they are receiving EI parental benefits.
I am prepared to accept that the heading change flows, at least partially, out of this commitment.
Clauses 535 to 637 amend the Canada Labour Code to allow a minister to designate a head of compliance and enforcement and spell out this person’s powers and responsibilities. Some of these relate to harassment and violence in the workplace. Page 236 of the budget makes reference to “…protecting federally regulated employees from harassment and violence in the workplace” and at least some of these measures clearly align with that objective. However, the parliamentary secretary’s main argument for not separating out these provisions is that they fulfill a commitment made in budget 2017 to strengthen compliance and enforcement mechanisms in the Labour Code.
The parliamentary secretary’s contention is that the exemption in the Standing Order applies to a bill whose purpose is the implementation of “a budget”, inferring it need not be this year’s budget. I think this is a bit of a stretch.
The title of Bill C-86 references the “budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018”. Clearly, the main purpose of the bill is to implement this year’s budget, not last year’s. I do not believe the intention of the Standing Order was to also exempt provisions from previous budgets.
Had the commitments been repeated in this year’s budget, I may have been inclined to accept his arguments, but that does not appear to be the case. For that reason, I am prepared to allow a separate vote on the provisions contained in subdivision B of division 15 of part 4.
Accordingly, given that a reasoned amendment has been moved, there will be three votes at second reading for this bill. The first will deal with the reasoned amendment. If it is defeated, the second vote will deal with all provisions relating to the head of compliance and enforcement in the Canada Labour Code, which includes clauses 535 to 625 of the bill, while the third will deal with all remaining provisions of the bill.
I thank hon. members for their attention.