An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Patty Hajdu  Liberal

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.

Part 1 of this enactment amends the Canada Labour Code to strengthen the existing framework for the prevention of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in the work place.

Part 2 amends Part III of the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act with respect to the application of Part II of the Canada Labour Code to parliamentary employers and employees, without limiting in any way the powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate and the House of Commons and their members.

Part 3 amends a transitional provision in the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1.

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.

February 27th, 2020 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

We have to get our own house in order, first. Some provinces and territories are way ahead of the federal government with their efforts in advancing gender equality.

When we took the patchwork of policies that existed federally and put them all into one plan with Bill C-65, we said we would bring into force this law within two years of royal assent. This is the year that it will be brought into force. This committee as well as all of Parliament has an opportunity to monitor its progress.

It's important for us to have our own house in order before we join efforts with others, because that often becomes a barrier to partnerships. If you haven't stepped up to the plate like others have, they're less likely to want to join the initiative.

I can assure you that this is a priority for our government. As I said before, we cannot afford for women to be unsafe in the workplace. We cannot afford to lose a single drop of talent.

February 27th, 2020 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Maryam Monsef Liberal Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

That number, one in two, sent shock waves across the country. One in two women experiences harassment or gender-based violence at work here in Canada. In the last Parliament, the House of Commons, unanimously passed Bill C-65. That was a significant step. The international community applauded Canada for its leadership in putting forward the first plan of its kind to address and prevent gender-based and all forms of harassment in the workplace. That initiative is now being implemented. It includes training, awareness and accountability measures, and there's an opportunity with this Parliament to review its progress.

As for relationships with our federal, provincial and territorial partners, the first FPT meeting that occurred following the 2019 election was the status of women gathering. We have really positive relationships with our provincial and territorial counterparts. For the first time in the 37th or 38th year of this gathering, we came up with a three-year strategic plan based on a common set of priorities and indicators to measure our progress. All forms of gender-based violence is our number one priority with this initiative.

February 27th, 2020 / 10:35 a.m.
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Commissioner, Correctional Service of Canada

Anne Kelly

My understanding is that Bill C-65 will require employers, certainly in workplaces, to respond to reports of harassment and violence, and to give employees the choice of an informal resolution process or a neutral third party investigation, which will result in a recommendation. If the employee opts for the investigation, then the employer is obligated to implement the recommendations from the investigator.

February 27th, 2020 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

I understand the families were quite pleased with that.

I have only a minute left.

Commissioner Kelly, I was going to ask you something else, but there have been a number of questions here about the conditions for people who are working in our prisons, and you've provided quite fulsome answers. Something you didn't touch on is that in the last Parliament we brought in Bill C-65, which means that employees in our institutions do not necessarily have to report if they are experiencing harassment and abuse. It allows them to go outside their direct superior, which was certainly the issue at Edmonton Max. I won't get into that because you won't have time to answer.

Will Bill C-65 help to solve some of the issues that were there before?

Extension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

May 27th, 2019 / noon
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, commencing upon the adoption of this Order and concluding on Friday, June 21, 2019:

(a) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the ordinary hour of daily adjournment shall be 12:00 a.m., except that it shall be 10:00 p.m. on a day when a debate, pursuant to Standing Order 52 or 53.1, is to take place;

(b) subject to paragraph (e), when a recorded division is requested in respect of a debatable motion, including any division arising as a consequence of the application of Standing Order 61(2) or Standing Order 78, but not including any division in relation to the Business of Supply or arising as a consequence of an order made pursuant to Standing Order 57, (i) before 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at that day’s sitting, or (ii) after 2:00 p.m. on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, or at any time on a Friday, it shall stand deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions at the next sitting day that is not a Friday, provided that, if a recorded division on the previous question is deferred and the motion is subsequently adopted, the recorded division on the original question shall not be deferred;

(c) notwithstanding Standing Order 45(6) and paragraph (b) of this Order, no recorded division in relation to any government order requested after 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2019, or at any time on Friday, June 21, 2019, shall be deferred;

(d) the time provided for Government Orders shall not be extended pursuant to Standing Order 45(7.1) or Standing Order 67.1(2);

(e) when a recorded division, which would have ordinarily been deemed deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on a Wednesday governed by this Order, is requested, the said division is deemed to have been deferred until the conclusion of Oral Questions on the same Wednesday;

(f) any recorded division which, at the time of the adoption of this Order, stands deferred to immediately before the time provided for Private Members’ Business on the Wednesday immediately following the adoption of this Order shall be deemed to stand deferred to the conclusion of Oral Questions on the same Wednesday;

(g) a recorded division requested in respect of a motion to concur in a government bill at the report stage pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(9), where the bill has neither been amended nor debated at the report stage, shall be deferred in the manner prescribed by paragraph (b);

(h) for greater certainty, this Order shall not limit the application of Standing Order 45(7);

(i) when one or several deferred recorded divisions occur on a bill at report stage, a motion, “That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass”, may be made in the same sitting;

(j) no dilatory motion may be proposed after 6:30 p.m., except by a Minister of the Crown;

(k) notwithstanding Standing Orders 81(16)(b) and (c) and 81(18)(c), proceedings on any opposition motion shall conclude no later than 5:30 p.m. on the sitting day that is designated for that purpose, except on a Monday when they shall conclude at 6:30 p.m. or on a Friday when they shall conclude at 1:30 p.m.;

(l) during consideration of the estimates on the last allotted day, pursuant to Standing Order 81(18), when the Speaker interrupts the proceedings for the purpose of putting forthwith all questions necessary to dispose of the estimates, (i) all remaining motions to concur in the Votes for which a notice of opposition was filed shall be deemed to have been moved and seconded, the question deemed put and recorded divisions deemed requested, (ii) the Speaker shall have the power to combine the said motions for voting purposes, provided that, in exercising this power, the Speaker will be guided by the same principles and practices used at report stage;

(m) when debate on a motion for the concurrence in a report from a standing, standing joint or special committee is adjourned or interrupted, the debate shall again be considered on a day designated by the government, after consultation with the House Leaders of the other parties, but in any case not later than the 31st sitting day after the interruption; and

(n) Members not seeking re-election to the 43rd Parliament may be permitted to make statements, on Tuesday, June 4, and Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at the expiry of the time provided for Private Members’ Business for not more than three hours, and that, for the duration of the statements, (i) no member shall speak for longer than ten minutes and the speeches not be subject to a question and comment period, (ii) after three hours or when no Member rises to speak, whichever comes first, the House shall return to Government Orders.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Motion No. 30, which allows for the extension of the sitting hours of the House until we rise for the summer adjournment.

I rise today to speak to Motion No. 30. This motion would allow for the extension of sitting hours of the House until we rise for the summer adjournment. There is a clear and recent precedent for this extension of hours to give the House more time to do its important work. It occurred last year at this time and also the year before that. As well, in the previous Parliament, the hours of the House were extended in June 2014.

Four years ago, our government came forward with an ambitious mandate that promised real change. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our government has introduced legislation that has improved the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. However, we have more work to do.

So far in this Parliament, the House has passed 82 government bills, and 65 of those have received royal assent. The facts are clear. This Parliament has been productive. We have a strong record of accomplishment. It is a long list, so I will cite just a few of our accomplishments.

Bill C-2 made good on our promise to lower taxes on middle-class Canadians by increasing taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians. There are nine million Canadians who have benefited from this middle-class tax cut. This tax cut has been good for Canadians and their families. It has been good for the economy and good for Canada, and its results have been better than advertised. On our side, we are proud of this legislation. We have always said that we were on the side of hard-working, middle-class Canadians, and this legislation is proof of exactly that.

As well, thanks to our budgetary legislation, low-income families with children are better off today. We introduced the biggest social policy innovation in more than a generation through the creation of the tax-free Canada child benefit. The CCB puts cash into the pockets of nine out of 10 families and has lifted nearly 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty.

Early in this Parliament, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada, we passed medical assistance in dying legislation, which carefully balanced the rights of those seeking medical assistance in dying while ensuring protection of the most vulnerable in our society.

Also of note, we repealed the previous government's law that allowed citizenship to be revoked from dual citizens. We also restored the rights of Canadians abroad to vote in Canadian elections.

We added gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Also, passing Bill C-65 has helped make workplaces in federally regulated industries and on Parliament Hill free from harassment and sexual violence.

We promised to give the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer the powers, resources and independence to properly do its job. We delivered on that commitment through legislation, and the PBO now rigorously examines the country's finances in an independent and non-partisan manner.

Through Bill C-45, we ended the failed approach to cannabis by legalizing it and strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis, as part of our plan to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the pockets of organized crime. Along with that, Bill C-46 has strengthened laws to deter and punish people who drive while impaired, both from alcohol and/or drugs.

These are just some examples of the work we have accomplished on behalf of Canadians.

We are now heading into the final weeks of this session of Parliament, and there is more work to do. Four years ago, Canadians sent us here with a responsibility to work hard on their behalf, to discuss important matters of public policy, to debate legislation and to vote on that legislation.

The motion to allow for the extension of sitting hours of the House is timely, and clearly it is necessary. We have an important legislative agenda before us, and we are determined to work hard to make even more progress.

Passage of this motion would give all members exactly what they often ask for: more time for debate. I know every member wants to deliver for their communities and this motion will help with exactly that. We have much to accomplish in the coming weeks and we have the opportunity to add time to get more done.

I would like to highlight a few of the bills that our government will seek to advance.

I will start with Bill C-97, which would implement budget 2017. This budget implementation act is about making sure that all Canadians feel the benefits of a growing economy. That means helping more Canadians find an affordable home, and get training so that they have the skills necessary to obtain good, well-paying jobs. It is also about making it easier for seniors to retire with confidence.

Another important bill is Bill C-92, which would affirm and recognize the rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis children and families. The bill would require all providers of indigenous child and family services to adhere to certain principles, namely the best interests of the child, family unity and cultural continuity. This co-drafted legislation would transfer the jurisdiction of child and family services delivery to indigenous communities. This is historic legislation that is long overdue.

We have another important opportunity for us as parliamentarians, which is to pass Bill C-93, the act that deals with pardons as they relate to simple possession of cannabis. As I mentioned, last year we upheld our commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. It is time to give people who were convicted of simple possession a straightforward way to clear their names. We know it is mostly young people from the poorest of communities who have been targeted and hence are being left behind. This bill would create an expedited pardon process, with no application fee or waiting period, for people convicted only of simple possession of cannabis. Canadians who have held criminal records in the past for simple possession of cannabis should be able to meaningfully participate in their communities, get good and stable jobs and become the contributing members of our society that they endeavour to be.

Meanwhile, there is another important bill before the House that we believe needs progress. Bill C-88 is an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. This legislation only impacts the Northwest Territories, and its territorial government is asking us to act. This legislation protects Canada's natural environment, respects the rights of indigenous people and supports a strong natural resources sector. This bill will move the country ahead with a process that promotes reconciliation with indigenous peoples and creates certainty for investments in the Mackenzie Valley and the Arctic.

Earlier this month, our government introduced Bill C-98, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act. This bill would create civilian oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency. It would provide citizens with an independent review body to address complaints about the CBSA, just as they now have complaint mechanisms in place for the RCMP. Let me remind members that it was our government that brought forward Bill C-22 that established the national security intelligence committee of parliamentarians, which has tabled its first annual report to Parliament. We are committed to ensuring that our country's border services are worthy of the trust of Canadians, and Bill C-98 is a significant step towards strengthening that accountability.

We have taken a new approach. We, as a government, have consulted with Canadians when it comes to our legislation. We have seen committees call witnesses and suggest amendments that often times improve legislation, and we, as a government, have accepted those changes. We were able to accomplish this work because we gave the committees more resources and we encouraged Liberal members to do their work.

Likewise, currently there are two bills that have returned to the House with amendments from the Senate. I look forward to members turning their attention to these bills as well. One of those bills is Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. Our goal is to make accessibility both a reality and a priority across federal jurisdictions so that all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can participate and be included in society as contributing members. Bill C-81 would help us to reach that goal by taking a proactive approach to getting ahead of systemic discrimination. The purpose of this bill is to make Canada barrier free, starting in areas under federal jurisdiction. This bill, if passed by Parliament, will represent the most significant legislation for the rights of persons with disabilities in over 30 years, and for once it will focus on their abilities.

The other bill we have received from the Senate is Bill C-58, which would make the first significant reforms to the Access to Information Act since it was enacted in 1982. With this bill, our government is raising the bar on openness and transparency by revitalizing access to information. The bill would give more power to the Information Commissioner and would provide for proactive disclosure of information.

There are also a number of other bills before the Senate. We have respect for the upper chamber. It is becoming less partisan thanks to the changes our Prime Minister has made to the appointment process, and we respect the work that senators do in reviewing legislation as a complementary chamber.

Already the Senate has proposed amendments to many bills, and the House has in many instances agreed with many of those changes. As we look toward the final few weeks, it is wise to give the House greater flexibility, and that is exactly why supporting this motion makes sense. This extension motion will help to provide the House with the time it needs to consider these matters.

There are now just 20 days left in the parliamentary calendar before the summer adjournment, and I would like to thank all MPs and their teams for their contributions to the House over the past four years. Members in the House have advanced legislation that has had a greater impact for the betterment of Canadians. That is why over 800,000 Canadians are better off today than they were three years ago when we took office.

We saw that with the lowering of the small business tax rate to 9%, small businesses have been able to grow through innovation and trade. We see that Canadians have created over one million jobs, the majority of which are full-time, good-paying jobs that Canadians deserve. These are jobs that were created by Canadians for Canadians.

That is why I would also like to stress that while it is necessary for us to have honest and vibrant deliberations on the motion, Canadians are looking for us all to work collaboratively and constructively in their best interests. That is exactly why extending the hours will provide the opportunity for more members to be part of the debates that represent the voices of their constituents in this place, so that we continue to advance good legislation that benefits even more Canadians.

It has been great to do the work that we have been doing, but we look forward to doing even more.

May 16th, 2019 / 8:45 a.m.
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Peterborough—Kawartha Ontario

Liberal

Maryam Monsef LiberalMinister for Women and Gender Equality

Good morning, and thank you, Madam Chair.

Boozhoo. Aaniin.

As-salaam alaikum. Ramadan kareem to my Muslim colleagues in this space and beyond.

We are on traditional territory that the Algonquin peoples have called home for generations upon generations.

This is my first time meeting with you in this room. I'm thankful to be here to speak with you about the main estimates and how they're going to allow Women and Gender Equality to better implement the mandate that it has been given.

As you know, the focus of our government on advancing gender equality is based on two premises. One, it's the right thing to do. It's the fair thing to do. Two, it's also the smart thing to do. It's the economically advantageous thing to do. When women succeed, everyone benefits.

That pillar, our gender equality pillar, has been a big driver for economic growth for us since we formed government. This plan that we've put together is working: one million jobs, the lowest poverty rate on record and the lowest unemployment rate we've had in over four decades. We have lifted out of poverty 300,000 children who are not going to bed hungry anymore. Also, we've been able to sign three trade agreements. This is all a sign that our plan is working.

I want to thank the members of this committee for your important work. When you collaborated and you worked together, you had tremendous results. As the minister responsible for this file, I tell the stories, especially around gender-based violence, of how you came together and how you made a world of difference for a lot of people. You've eased a lot of suffering, for example, with the conversations you had with Facebook around revenge porn.

When women have choices, when they have a voice, opportunity and the right skills, when they have safety, and when they have role models and social safety nets, they move mountains. Every single one of us knows women in our lives—and those women are around this table as well—who are able to do big things because of those choices, opportunities and means.

Our government has worked to apply an intersectional gendered lens throughout everything we do and every decision in cabinet. Now it's the law to apply that lens to budgets. More and more, we're seeing committees do a really good job of that. There are still some inconsistencies around the application of GBA+, but we intend to make sure that we get better.

I do want to thank my parliamentary secretary, Terry Duguid, who has been working very hard with other parliamentary secretaries to make sure that the GBA+ is something that committees apply as well.

The Canada child benefit is giving more money to single moms and helping them make ends meet. The lower taxes for the middle class and the raised taxes for the 1%, along with lower taxes for small businesses, mean that Canadians have more money in their pockets. For seniors, especially for women—I know you've done a study on this—the guaranteed income supplement and the fact that we brought the eligibility age back to 65 is lifting tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty, many of whom are women.

There's the national housing strategy, with over $50 billion now over 10 years to stabilize the housing market in communities across the country. In Peterborough, my own community, the rental vacancy rate is 1.1%. We know that women are the first to lose housing and the last to get housing.

We know that housing is a social determinant of health, but it's also a determinant of gender-based violence. To have a carveout in the gender-based violence strategy—about a third—designed specifically for women-led families is a solution that's going to make a world of difference. There are 7,000 shelter units either being renovated or built anew. That's going to mean that she has a place to turn to when she works up the courage to leave an awful situation.

If we're applying an intersectional gendered lens, talking about feminist governments and working to ensure that we bring others along with us, it's because there has been a women's movement, an equality-seeking movement, that existed long before any of us got here. It will be here long after we're gone. The sustainability of that movement is my number one priority; we know, and results show, that the most effective way to advance gender equality is by investing in them.

For the first time ever, they've received funding over five years, capacity-building funding, with over $50 million as part of the gender-based violence strategy. The point here is that they don't always have to look inward, applying for grants one year at a time. They can have some predictability and stability with five-year grants that go beyond an election cycle.

We also know there are barriers for those women who choose to enter STEM fields, or trades. We're working to remove them. We know that only 16% of Canadian entrepreneurs' businesses are majority-owned by women—16%. Surely we can do better than that in Canada. We have a strategy to double that number by 2025.

We know that care work is most often a big responsibility for women. What if that responsibility and privilege were shared with the second parent, often the father? We have new shared parental leave that allows for just that. Child care is very much in line with that. Our investment in child care means there will be at least 40,000 new child care spaces. Importantly, there are spaces, through a distinctions-based approach, for indigenous children. We have a new child care framework for indigenous kids—Métis, Inuit and first nations. That's been a smart collaboration between our governments in a nation-to-nation way.

Over half the boil water advisories have been lifted, and we know there's a direct link between women and water. We know that in indigenous cultures and in many others women are the keepers of the water. Water is sacred; water is life. To have lifted half the advisories and be on track to lift the rest of them by 2021—in the next two years—is a big step forward. What that means for those communities, too, is that they suddenly become open for economic development. It's hard to invest if there's no clean drinking water in a community, but we're changing that.

Evidence matters. Data matters, so bringing back the census, and the ability of scientists to do what they need to do.... For example, the shelter survey results from a couple of weeks ago indicated where the gaps and opportunities are. Also, the fact that Stats Canada has a centre for diversity and inclusion statistics, a one-stop shop for all the data we're working on, to create better intersectional, gendered lenses, is really important. That's something that stays long after we're gone. Data and evidence anchor the progress we have made.

The billions we are providing to support education, infrastructure, skills, housing and leadership in indigenous communities mean that we are in this era of reconciliation and that we will not be turning back. Communities have more opportunities to self-determine the paths they want to take.

These accomplishments are significant, and many of them have been happening ahead of schedule—for example, the indexation of the Canada child benefit, not once, but twice, and the lifting of people out of poverty. We are ahead of schedule, with one million jobs. Who would have thought, when we formed a government in a recession, that we'd be talking about a million jobs and three trade agreements three years later? This is happening because our government isn't alone, but is working with our partners to do this.

We know that for all the progress that's been made, more work remains, and we're committed to that work. There are some institutional challenges that we're working to address. The fact that GBA+ is now in law for gender budgeting is an important way that we're addressing some systemic barriers.

Indeed, we are taking that diversity lens to the appointments that the federal government makes, and we have instituted a new appointment process. Thousands have been appointed to really important roles in federally regulated jurisdictions. Now, 47% of those who sit around those important tables, and who make decisions, whether it's port authorities, VIA rail or other important agencies and bodies, are women. The Senate of Canada is also at parity right now, at a time when on corporate boards in Canada, only one in five seats is filled by a woman. Again, surely we can do better in Canada.

We have a gender results framework that provinces and territories have agreed to use with us—a common set of indicators to measure our progress. We have proactive pay equity legislation, Bill C-65 and Bill C-51.

Of course, come June 3, the inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women wraps up its work.

I wanted to give you an overview. Thank you again for all the ways you've been a part of this work.

Madam Chair, I'm happy to take any questions colleagues may have.

Government PrioritiesOral Questions

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

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2019 / 5:15 p.m.
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Yvonne Jones Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-77 and the important changes to the National Defence Act that our government is proposing.

Bill C-77 proposes changes to the act that we feel modernize it and are long overdue. At the heart of these changes are our people and those in service to Canada.

This is the most important piece, as I see it. I come from a family of people who have had long-term service in the Canadian military. I am extremely proud not just of them and the work they have done but of all those who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces.

My sister is now a veteran of the military and continues to work with the Department of National Defence. I also have three other family members in service for this country. I have come to understand the tremendous sacrifices they and their families have made for our country each and every day.

We owe all the women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces a lot. We owe them our deep gratitude for their service to our country.

We also owe them fairness, openness and transparency within that service. This includes a military justice system that ensures that victims receive the support they need and deserve, a system that promotes a culture of leadership, respect and honour.

Canadian Armed Forces members are held to a higher standard of conduct, as we all know. Whether they are stationed in Canada or deployed around the world, we ask a lot of them each and every day. We have a responsibility to ensure that the rules that guide their conduct are transparent, equitable and fair.

Much of what is within Bill C-77 is an extension of the work our government is already doing to ensure a more victim-centred approach to justice; to build on Bill C-65, our government's legislation against workplace harassment; to strengthen truth and reconciliation with indigenous people; and to change military culture, through Operation Honour, in order to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces provides a respectful workplace of choice for every Canadian.

I would like to take a moment to expand on the importance of Operation Honour. As many members in the room know, Operation Honour aims to eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. We have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct of any kind in our Canadian Armed Forces and in any entity within the country.

Through Operation Honour, we have introduced a new victim response centre that provides better training for the Canadian Armed Forces personnel and an easier reporting system.

I would also like to acknowledge the important work of the Sexual Misconduct Resource Centre, which recently released its annual report. We thank the centre for continuing to support Canadian Armed Forces members affected by sexual misconduct.

I am also pleased to note that the SMRC is looking at providing caseworkers to victims of inappropriate sexual behaviour to ensure they have continuous support from when they first report an incident to when their case concludes.

The work of the Sexual Misconduct Resource Centre has been exceptional. I know that victims are being well supported as a result of its efforts.

Its origins come from former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps, who recommended it in her 2015 report. As a government, we acted to put in place a sexual misconduct response centre to provide support to those affected by inappropriate sexual behaviour.

We have extended the hours so that staff at the centre are there to listen and provide support to members of the Canadian Armed Forces calling in 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where they are in the world. Last October's annual report of the centre demonstrates the important work that they have done and continue to do to enhance victim support for members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

I would now like to turn to the legislation at hand and to highlight how Bill C-77 will give victims a voice and change our National Defence Act in four important ways.

First, like the civilian criminal justice system, it will enshrine important rights for victims. Second, it will seek harsher penalties for crimes motivated by bias, prejudice or hate toward gender identity or expression. Third, it will ensure that the specific circumstances of indigenous offenders are taken into account in the sentencing process. Fourth, it will reform the manner in which the chain of command administers summary trials.

Bill C-77 proposes the inclusion of a declaration of victims rights in the National Defence Act. The declaration mirrors the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which strengthens and guides how we support victims in the civilian criminal justice system.

Specifically, the bill would legislate four new victim rights within the military justice system. They are the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and the right to restitution.

In order to ensure that victims would be able to exercise these rights, they would be entitled to the support of a victim liaison officer, should they require it. These liaison officers will be able to explain how service offences are charged, dealt with and tried under the code of service discipline. They will help victims access information to which they are entitled, and they will remain available to assist the victim throughout their interaction with the military justice system. This would ensure that victims understand each stage of the process and how they can engage meaningfully throughout the process. The support that the victim liaison officer would offer will be comprehensive. It will be fair and it will always be offered in the spirit of preserving victims' dignity.

Bill C-77 also specifically addresses issues of gender-based prejudice and hatred in military service offences and infractions. The bill proposes harsher sentences and sanctions for service offences and infractions that are motivated by bias, prejudice or hate toward gender expression or identity.

Our men and women in uniform, and those who work and live alongside them, must feel welcomed and respected at all times. The Canadian Armed Forces has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. This amendment will better align the military justice system with that principle.

On that note, through programs such as the positive space initiative, the defence team has been working hard to help create inclusive work environments for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. I commend them for their work on this initiative, which provides training to ambassadors in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited community members who work with us every day.

The next change that I would like to focus on is how we propose to update the military justice system to better reflect the realities of historic injustices inflicted upon indigenous peoples.

In the civilian criminal justice system, the Criminal Code mandates that judges must carefully consider circumstances during sentencing. Specifically, for all offenders they must consider all available sanctions. This principle is to be applied with particular attention to the circumstances of indigenous offenders.

This particular bill is one that I am proud to support. As a member who represents a region with a military base and every day sees those who serve in uniform, I really believe that this legislation is helping to modernize and bring more transparency to the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

February 28th, 2019 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-77, along with the minister of labour's legislation, Bill C-65, would build on the government's commitment to creating workplaces free from harassment and discrimination within the federal sphere. Let there be no doubt that inappropriate behaviour of that nature is inexcusable, and we encourage members of the Canadian Forces to raise it with their supervisors or through the mechanisms that have been put in place.

When we talk about the military, and I reference boot camps, team building is really important. When we would go out and do an exercise, it would not be complete until the last person had completed that particular exercise. For example, if we were going for a jog, it might be the person at the front who would go to the back to encourage the person at the back to continue. That person would help motivate that particular individual.

When people first start in the military, there is a great deal of discussion about being there for their teammates. Having said that, there is unacceptable behaviour. When people are witnessing unacceptable behaviour, there is an obligation to report it, because we want all work environments to be harassment free.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be here today in support of Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.

I want to first acknowledge the hard work that has gone into shaping this bill, including the study undertaken by members of the Standing Committee on National Defence.

I am pleased to say that due to the care and dedication to improving our military justice system by our Canadian Armed Forces members, the final bill enjoys support from all parties.

This bill was drafted with the same care for our people in mind, because as I have said before, our people are at the heart of everything we do. They make extraordinary sacrifices every single day in service to our country, and we hold them to a high standard of conduct in all they do, whether at home or abroad. They deserve a military justice system that promotes discipline, efficiency and morale within the Canadian Armed Forces.

Through Bill C-77, we are bringing important changes to our current framework that will allow us to provide this type of support to anyone going through the military justice system.

Many members are already familiar with the proposed changes and the improvements they would make to enshrine victims rights in the system; reform the summary trial process to ensure that minor breaches of military discipline were dealt with in a non-penal, non-criminal process; seek harsher punishments for service offences and harsher sanctions for service infractions motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression; and ensure that the specific circumstances of indigenous offenders were considered when imposing a sentence.

The changes we are proposing are long overdue and necessary. We recognize that we need to continually improve our military justice system. These changes align with the mandate given to me by our Prime Minister to make the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces workplaces free from harassment and discrimination, and they follow closely our government's action outside the Canadian Armed Forces to make sure that Canada is a safe and welcoming place for all Canadians and people living in Canada.

This legislation would build on our government's commitment to the values of fairness and equality. These values are also key tenets of Bill C-65, which makes workplaces in the federal sphere and in Parliament free from harassment and discrimination. This received royal assent last October.

Bill C-77 would help Canadians prevent incidents of harassment, enable them to respond to events that do occur, and most importantly, support victims, survivors and employers.

Our government is also making strides to ensure fairness and equality for LGBTQ2 Canadians. Since our Prime Minister's formal apology to the LGBTQ2 Canadians for decades of institutional discrimination and harassment, we have taken steps to compensate those affected. Administration of a settlement agreement between the Government of Canada and current and former members of our Canadian Armed Forces is under way.

This past fall we announced a new Canada pride citation that each member of the class will be eligible to receive. This citation is an acknowledgement of historical injustices experienced by LGBTQ2 federal public servants, RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces members to commemorate their resilience, bravery and sacrifice.

Finally, this legislation would continue our government's efforts to strengthen fairness and equality for indigenous peoples living in Canada as we work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to implement its calls to action to repair and renew this important relationship.

We should all be proud to be part of a government working to ensure fairness and equality for all Canadians. It is work that goes a long way toward making Canada a country where everyone is treated equally. It is the same dedication to fairness and equality that motivated the creation of this legislation and that continues to motivate us as we work to finalize and enshrine these amendments in law.

I would now like to talk about our proposed changes to the National Defence Act and our hopes for how they would improve our current military justice system.

One of the most important changes would be the addition of a declaration of victims rights in the National Defence Act, which would improve support for victims. This declaration would mirror the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights found in the civilian criminal justice system. It would strengthen how the Canadian Armed Forces supports victims across the military justice system. It would enshrine rights for victims of service offences and enhance the support provided to victims as they navigate the court martial process.

Through Bill C-77, we would be legislating for victims rights, which include the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation and the right to restitution. Through these expanded rights, victims would be able to access all information to which they were entitled. They would be entitled to security and privacy at all times in the military justice system. They would have the right to present a victim impact statement and to share their views about decisions that affect their rights. They would also be able to ask a court martial to consider ordering restitution for damages or losses when that value could be calculated. In addition, to ensure that victims were able to exercise these rights, they would be entitled to the support of the victims declaration of victims rights to enhance the kind of support we could offer victims through the military justice system.

These would be important changes, and I am proud to be bringing them to the House today.

The second set of changes we are proposing concerns how the military justice system handles minor breaches of military discipline. We are proposing reforms to the current summary trial process, which would create a new process called “summary hearings”. These summary hearings would make the system more efficient and would treat minor breaches of military discipline in a fair and timely manner. The new process would be non-penal and non-criminal.

Through these proposed changes, a new category of minor breaches of military discipline, called “service infractions”, would be created. These service infractions would not trigger a criminal record. This change would allow the Canadian Armed Forces to handle minor breaches of military discipline in a fair, simpler and faster manner, which is extremely important. It would demonstrate trust and confidence in our military leaders, who could address minor breaches of discipline at the base, wing or unit level, and it would help maintain operational readiness and preserve morale across the Canadian Armed Forces.

Through Bill C-77, we would also work to address the issue of gender-based prejudice and hatred in the Canadian Armed Forces. The bill would work similarly to the Criminal Code. It proposes harsher sentences for service offences and harsher sanctions for service infractions motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender expression or identity.

The Canadian Armed Forces has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and we are committed to eliminating these types of biases in all our military ranks. We have a responsibility to make sure that all Canadian Armed Forces members feel welcome and accepted. We know that we have not alway supported our LGBTQ2 members as well as they have deserved. This amendment reflects this commitment and would help the forces continue to make progress in promoting inclusivity.

We have made a significant amendment to mirror the Criminal Code provision relating to the sentencing of indigenous offenders. For indigenous people found guilty of service offences, the personal history and circumstances of indigenous offenders would be considered during sentencing. All available punishments deemed appropriate given the harm done would be considered, with particular attention to the circumstances of indigenous offenders. This sentencing principle also acknowledges historic wrongs that still negatively affect indigenous peoples living in Canada today.

As our Prime Minister has said on many occasions, no relationship is more important to our government and to Canada than the one we have with indigenous people.

Indigenous women and men play an important role in the Canadian Armed Forces. There are nearly 2,500 indigenous members in the regular and reserve forces, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are well supported throughout their entire military careers.

These proposed changes to the National Defence Act are key to supporting our women and men in uniform. Canadian Armed Forces members need and deserve a military justice system that is transparent, fair and equitable, and a military justice system that helps keep the Canadian Armed Forces fair and inclusive for all Canadians and people living in Canada.

Our people are at the heart of everything we do. They are the reason we work hard to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces is welcoming and inclusive for all of our members, including women. The reason we introduced Operation Honour was to eliminate sexual misconduct from the Canadian Armed Forces and to change military culture to ensure it is a respectful workplace of choice for all people living in Canada.

The support provided to Canadian Armed Forces members through initiatives like these cannot be overstated. Through Bill C-77, we are making sure that military justice reflects Canadian values, eliminates discrimination and ensures victims have a voice throughout the legal process.

The members of the Standing Committee on National Defence heard from a variety of witnesses in order to get a full picture of how the passing of the bill would affect our members, including the judge advocate general of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Barreau du Québec and senior military leadership, as well as former members of the forces and their families.

Again, I want to thank all those who worked hard to move the bill forward. Their hard work has led to several amendments, some of which have been incorporated and will make the bill stronger.

I also want to specifically recognize the important conversations surrounding mental health and self-harm that came up during the recent study at the Standing Committee on National Defence. During its study of the bill, members of the committee raised concerns about a provision in the National Defence Act that makes it a service offence for military members to wilfully injure themselves with the intent to render themselves unfit for service.

We take the well-being of our women and men in uniform very seriously. That is why we are investing $17.5 million in a centre of excellence focused on the prevention, assessment and treatment of PTSD and related mental health conditions for military members and veterans. That is why we have over 400 full-time mental health workers and we intend to hire more. That is why we included the total health and wellness strategy in our defence policy. That is why we launched the joint suicide prevention strategy with Veterans Affairs last year.

Our government recognizes that military service places unique demands on our brave women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. As such, I have invited the committee to undertake a study on mental health and self-harm in the Canadian Armed Forces, which will allow us to thoughtfully and thoroughly consider these issues. I look forward to working with committee members to develop a better understanding of these issues and to come up with solutions that will benefit all of our women and men in uniform.

It is a pleasure to see this proposed legislation progress to third reading and to stand in the House today in support of all members of our Canadian Armed Forces. They deserve a military justice system that maintains discipline, efficiency and morale in the Canadian Armed Forces while respecting our Canadian values. They deserve a military justice system that provides fair and equal treatment, regardless of race, orientation or gender.

A lot of discussion has occurred and hopefully we can quickly pass the bill. Once again, I want to thank all members for their input into the bill.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

January 30th, 2019 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak in this new House of Commons. As the NDP's labour critic, I am always pleased to talk about workers. Today, I will be speaking to Bill C-420, which was introduced by the member for Mirabel.

In any discussion on the Canada Labour Code, we cannot forget to talk about the health and safety of federally regulated workers, both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. However, one important aspect has been ignored, and since I returned to the House of Commons, I have been quite worried and upset. No one is talking about protecting good jobs.

Bill C-420 talks about health and safety, but this aspect is part of protecting good jobs. There are federal employees in my riding of Jonquière. We have been home to a taxation data centre since 1983. More than 1,000 workers provide good service to all Canadians. In fact, there is even a taxation services office in Chicoutimi. These are good jobs, and the Bloc Québécois needs to remember that.

I have not seen anything about protecting these good jobs over the past few days in the House of Commons or on social media. This aspect does not seem to be taken into consideration. This is important to a region like mine, to Jonquière. One thousand jobs represents 1,000 families. This is the equivalent of thousands of jobs in Montreal, for example.

Let us return to Bill C-420, which is comprised of three bills introduced by the NDP in this parliamentary session. First, there is Bill C-234, which I introduced and deals with the issue of scabs. There is always a double standard in negotiations. I do not like to say this but, unfortunately, the parties are not on an equal footing in negotiations. I will speak about this more later on in my speech.

The second part of the bill is based on Bill C-345 , introduced by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, which proposed changes to the Canada Labour Code for pregnant or nursing employees. The third part reflects a bill that was introduced by Thomas Mulcair, but which unfortunately was never debated in the House of Commons. It called for the application to Quebec companies of the provisions in the Official Languages Act with regard to Quebec's particular linguistic characteristics. I will get back to this point in a few moments.

Let us come back to the first part of the bill on anti-strikebreaker legislation. It is time to reform the Canada Labour Code to have it reflect the reality of new technologies, automation, and telework. Why not take the opportunity to include these bills in the modernization of the Canada Labour Code, but also to protect workers during negotiations?

In November, special legislation was imposed on postal workers. Both parties cannot negotiate as equals if the company is able to hire replacement workers every time. The Canada Labour Code does not include any standard prohibiting the use of strikebreakers. It is time to remedy that problem. Labour legislation in both Quebec and British Columbia includes standards on this, so could we not include some in the Canada Labour Code? There is a lot of talk about consultation, but it is important to consult the employers, the government and workers on a set of standards. These are people who wake up every morning and perform miracles across the board.

Why not take care of them and amend the Canada Labour Code?

I could go on and on about this. However, the bill is divided into three parts, and I really want to talk about protections for pregnant or nursing workers.

I was working as a letter carrier when I was pregnant, and there were no protections. I had to work with my mail bag on my back and climb several stories. That was part of my job. However, pregnant women who do high-risk work need measures to lighten their workload, to keep them and their unborn babies safe. It can be really hard. It is normal to have a valid medical certificate. It is also normal for the doctor and employer to work together to come up with ways to ensure the safety of mother and baby. However, the Canada Labour Code does not allow for that.

I think there is room for improvement, like Quebec's preventive withdrawal. The Minister of Labour should make sure that mothers who wish to nurse and return to work are able to do so, as is the case in Quebec. Of course, working conditions must be taken into account to ensure that women are safe and able to nurse.

There is a real push to make it easier for women to access the workforce. Women should never be penalized for deciding to have children. Unfortunately, that is often what happens.

A number of similar bills have been introduced in the House of Commons. When my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue introduced hers, it was summarily rejected. Now we have an opportunity to make amendments, and I hope that, this time, the government will show some consideration for pregnant and nursing women and vote in favour of Bill C-420. At this point, the Canada Labour Code is in dire need of an update.

I would like to spend the rest of my time talking about the part that deals with language of work in Quebec.

Quebec has two different language of work regimes. Each applies to different categories of organizations and workers. One is the Official Languages Act, which governs all federal institutions, that is, all Government of Canada and parliamentary institutions. The other is Quebec's Charter of the French Language, the Quebec charter, which applies to all provincially regulated workplaces. Quebec has about 135,000 federally regulated employees in roughly 760 private organizations.

Often certain companies will send documents in English only. Of course, some employees in Quebec businesses speak English. However, it is not right that they are receiving the documents in English only. Quebec workers speak French and their language is French, so they should be receiving the information in French and being served in French. We need to pay special attention to that. I believe that the Canada Labour Code could include requirements and protect francophone workers in Quebec who fall under federal jurisdiction.

As I mentioned several times, the Canada Labour Code is due for a major reform. There have been some bills, including Bill C-65, that have made amendments to the Canada Labour Code. Bill C-420 makes further amendments. I hope that the government will consider a comprehensive reform and modernization of the Canada Labour Code.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2Government Orders

November 27th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Angelo Iacono Liberal Alfred-Pellan, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-86, budget implementation act, 2018, no. 2, more specifically to modernizing federal labour standards as well as the wage earner protection program.

The Government of Canada has a mandate to modernize labour standards and adapt them to today's reality. Bill C-86 is the first step in making this modernization a reality.

I want to begin by providing a bit of context. Part III of the Canada Labour Code establishes basic working conditions in the federally-regulated private sector, such as working hours, minimum wage, statutory leave, annual leave, and various other types of leave.

They would also create a level playing field for employers by requiring all of them to meet these minimum entitlements. Many employers already go above and beyond what is in the code, but for some workers, these standards are the only protections they have.

Unfortunately, these things have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s when most Canadians had steady jobs with regular nine to five hours.

Today, many Canadians are struggling to support their families in part-time, temporary and low-wage jobs. They may work several jobs to make ends meet, face unpredictable hours and lack benefits and access to certain entitlements.

The government understands that the nature of work is changing. That is why we held extensive consultations that highlighted the need for updated federal labour standards. That is what we are doing with budget implementation act no. 2.

Our consultations made it clear that there were a number of complex issues related to federal labour standards and the changing nature of work that required more in-depth review and discussions. A modern set of federal labour standards would better protect our workers and help set the stage for good-quality jobs.

A group of experts, soon to be announced, will be looking at these issues.

Let us talk about some of the changes being introduced through Bill C-86:

Subdivision A of Division 15 of Part 4 amends the Canada Labour Code to, among other things,

(a) provide five days of paid leave for victims of family violence, a personal leave of five days with three paid days, an unpaid leave for court or jury duty and a fourth week of annual vacation with pay for employees who have completed at least 10 consecutive years of employment;

(b) eliminate minimum length of service requirements for leaves and general holiday pay and reduce the length of service requirement for three weeks of vacation with pay;

(c) prohibit differences in rate of wages based on the employment status of employees;

Many Canadians are victims of domestic violence. It takes so much courage and determination to make that decision to leave a violent situation. These individuals experience extreme stress and vulnerability. Sometimes, they just cannot go to work for a number of days, and the trouble is, they do not know what type of leave they can use to justify their absence.

This five-day period of leave will help more Canadians get out of violent situations without the risk of losing their job.

By introducing equal treatment protections, these amendments would also ensure that employees in precarious work are paid and treated fairly, and have access to the same entitlements as their full-time counterparts. As well, they would ensure that employees receive sufficient notice and compensation when their jobs are terminated, to help protect their financial security. However, change of this magnitude does not happen overnight.

That is why up to approximately $51 million over five years starting in 2019-20, and up to about $12 million ongoing will be allocated to support the implementation and enforcement of the labour standards amendments, including education and awareness, training and increased resources for proactive enforcement and timely resolution of complaints.

In addition to these changes to the code, we are also enhancing the wage earner protection program to provide more support for Canadians during difficult times when their employer is insolvent and they are owed wages. The wage earner protection program is a Government of Canada program that provides financial support for workers who are owed eligible wages when their employer files for bankruptcy or becomes subject to receivership. In short, the WEPP is there to help workers when they need it the most.

Budget 2018 announced that the government would propose legislative amendments to increase the maximum payments under the WEPP and make eligibility more equitable. As such, our government is proposing to increase the maximum payment under the WEPP from an amount equal to four weeks of maximum insurable employment insurance earnings to an amount equal to seven weeks. For 2018, this would amount to an increase of up to $3,000.

I think the members of the House would agree that this increased support is a welcome change for Canadian workers, and I am glad to say that the increase in the maximum payment would come into force on royal assent and would apply in respect of bankruptcies or receiverships that occurred on or after February 27, 2018.

Changes would also be made to program eligibility more equitable so that workers who are owed wages, vacation, severance, or termination pay when their employer files for bankruptcy or enters receivership are better supported during a difficult time.

The changes proposed today are part of our plan to modernize federal labour standards as part of Bill C-86. We are also introducing historic proactive pay equity legislation. This legislation would ensure that women and men in federally regulated industries receive equal pay for work of equal value.

We have already introduced in the Canada Labour Code the right to request flexible work arrangements, new leaves and new protections for unpaid interns. More recently, we passed Bill C-65, which addresses workplace harassment and violence. We are bringing in change that Canadians have been asking for.

We spent nearly a year consulting with Canadians, stakeholders and experts to get their perspectives on what a robust and modern set of federal leader standards should look now. Now we are taking action. We are ushering in modern and robust standards that will benefit both workers and employers.

With modern labour standards that support good-quality jobs, employees can thrive and achieve a better balance between the demands of their personal lives and the operational requirements of their jobs, which can lead to a greater sense of well-being. By the same token, they can help employers recruit and retain employees, which can lead to an increase in productivity. Employees who come to work feeling supported by their employers are able to do their best work and to innovate, which can create a better working environment and lead to long-term gains for employers.

It is a win-win for everyone.

I request the support of the House to get rid of these 1960s-era provisions that are well past their best before date. We must update our labour standards to reflect the equality and quality of Canadian jobs across the country.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 11:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Chair, I will complete my response to the member about the very compelling story she told about a particular worker who had been injured, had returned to work and who felt harassed to do more than her return-to-work plan indicated she was capable of doing.

I will point out that Bill C-65 was passed thanks to all, very supportive, members of the House, who agreed that workplaces should be free of harassment and violence. All workers will now be protected by the new legislation this government has introduced. In fact, now when people are harassed, regardless of the workplace in which they find themselves, if they are in a federally regulated workplace, they will have measures to protect them and support them as they move through processes for which they may not have had support previously.

In terms of the—

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.