Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act

An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services

Sponsor

Patty Hajdu  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment provides for the resumption and continuation of postal services and imposes a mediation process to resolve matters remaining in dispute between the parties. It also empowers the mediator-arbitrator to impose an arbitration process to resolve matters that cannot be resolved through mediation.

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

Nov. 24, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-89, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services
Nov. 24, 2018 Failed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-89, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services (amendment)
Nov. 23, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-89, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Carla Qualtrough Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, our government has gone to considerable lengths to bring about the renewal of Canada Post. We believe it is a uniquely important national institution that will continue to serve all Canadians from coast to coast to coast while also helping small, medium and large businesses thrive at home and abroad.

That mission to serve Canadians is at the heart of the new vision for renewal I had the honour to put forward earlier this year. This renewed direction took into consideration the evidence and perspectives gathered during the comprehensive review launched in May 2016, including the work of the independent task force, the report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and input from Canadians.

I know the employees of Canada Post remain deeply committed to serving Canadians. They work hard every day to do exactly that. Our new vision for renewal is forward-looking, not nostalgic. We believe Canada Post and its dedicated employees will be serving Canadians for decades to come. Therefore, they must continue to innovate and adapt to the rapidly changing expectations of their customers and a competitive, dynamic business environment.

To create the foundation needed for renewal, we put in place new leadership with a mandate to implement that vision in collaboration with employees and their union representatives. In addition, this leadership is part of our work to incorporate greater diversity and broader perspectives within the corporation, including those of labour.

The new leadership has made significant efforts over recent months to reorient the relationship between the corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers in particular. On some fronts, progress has been made. Decisive actions have been taken to address some long-standing issues such as bullying and harassment.

The two parties worked hard to engage in a respectful dialogue on the need to work together to renew Canada Post. This dialogue is set to continue in the coming months and years, once a new collective agreement is signed.

Despite considerable efforts, this work has not yet translated into success at the bargaining table. My colleague, the labour minister, has exhausted every means to assist the parties to reach a fair resolution, and still no deal has occurred. We are at the point of placing in jeopardy Canada Post's ability to deliver for Canadians during the crucial holiday season. The scale of the backlog in the national network caused by rotating strikes over the past several weeks is significant. It will take some time to clear that backlog, especially as volumes are ramping up dramatically.

What we have seen to date is about to be amplified as we enter into the absolute apex of activity in e-commerce, starting today with Black Friday and continuing with Cyber Monday just a few short days away. Canada Post is responsible for 70% of those e-commerce deliveries. That is 70% of e-commerce deliveries in our country. The rotating strikes and the backlog are clearly taking their toll.

We know that two-thirds of small and medium-sized enterprises surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report being affected by the strikes. We know that costs are around $3,000 per business in terms of lost sales, cancelled orders, delays or costs due to the use of more expensive delivery alternatives.

We also know that, these days, more and more Canadians are shopping online, which has created a growing need for parcel delivery. During the 2017 holiday season, Canada Post delivered more parcels than in previous years. Clearly, the ability to send and receive mail is very important to Canadians.

In the event of a lengthy postal strike, we could start to see many companies, particularly smaller e-commerce companies, not survive the season.

The disruption is also becoming an international problem for Canada. Recently, Canada Post had no choice but to advise international partners to stop sending mail and parcels to Canada. Let me repeat: International partners have stopped sending mail and parcels to Canada. Our government is exerting enormous efforts to advance Canada's position in global trade, and action is required now to prevent postal disruption from undermining the successes that support so many middle-class jobs.

We have ample evidence of the harm to small and medium-sized enterprises that rely heavily on an efficient e-commerce delivery chain, and to charities counting on ramped-up fundraising through the mail during the holiday season.

Our government also recognizes the important services that Canada Post and its employees provide, especially for older Canadians, persons with disabilities, low-income earners and Canadians living in rural, remote and northern areas. These Canadians are hit the hardest during a postal strike.

This is precisely why we have been doing everything possible to help the parties reach agreements that work for everyone. It has been important to give the process every chance to succeed.

Our government has always recognized the right to collective bargaining. Federal conciliators and mediators have helped the parties through their negotiations for nearly one year. When the negotiations reached an impasse, we appointed a special mediator to take a fresh perspective of the situation.

To keep the momentum going, we once again appointed the special mediator in an effort to maintain that momentum, but no agreement could be reached. Voluntary arbitration was then offered and a special mediator was brought in for a third attempt to resolve the differences. When we say that all options have been exhausted, we mean it.

With negotiations completely stalled and weeks of rolling strikes going by, it has become clear that our government is left with only one remaining option.

This does not begin to describe the economic and reputational harm to Canada Post. Again, this is not a road we wanted to go down, but the stakes are too high. We must do what Canadians put us here to do, and that is to protect their interests. Now, with balanced legislation, we are acknowledging that non-intervention will cause harm to a broad swath of economic and social actors.

Canadians need an end to the impasse: individuals in communities of all sizes, small and micro-businesses, medium and larger enterprises and charities. We have an obligation, in the best interests of our constituents, in fact of all Canadians, to move forward with this legislation.

Canadians need Canada Post. They need the corporation's management, its dedicated employees and their representatives to deliver for them this holiday season. They need labour and management to get on with the longer-term job of renewal of Canada Post, so it continues serving the evolving needs of all Canadians for decades to come, providing safe and fairly compensated work for its dedicated people.

This is why we need to support this balanced legislation.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, we heard time and again this morning that the government had only one option, and that was to violate the workers' constitutional right to strike. I would like to make a proposal and hear the minister's response.

There was one other option, and an equivalent option. That is to put the onus on the employer to accept what CUPW has asked at the bargaining table. Instead, it is pretty clear that the government is on one side, and that is on the side of the employer and not to protect the constitutional right of workers. I would like the minister to respond to that.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Carla Qualtrough

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that our government is very committed to workers' rights and the labour movement itself. We have demonstrated through a number of initiatives that we are absolutely committed. I think of our groundbreaking pay equity legislation recently and what that would do for workers across the country.

With respect to Canada Post, the vision we put forward focuses on Canadians and service to Canadians. At the same time, we have asked the new leadership team to serve Canadians and renew and repair an incredibly fragmented relationship, which basically disintegrated during the Harper Conservatives. We have asked it to make this into an operational business model that will serve Canadians for decades to come, be competitive with respect to the business services it provides and be reliable so Canadians know they can get both their mail and their parcels.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier about the government dilly-dallying and delaying so much in acting on Canada Post. Two and a half years ago, we went on the road for three weeks. We heard very clearly that Canada Post was in trouble. We are looking at three-quarters of a billion dollars in losses, which the taxpayers will have to absorb down the road, and there is no plan yet from the government to address it.

We have asked when Canada Post is going to have a permanent president. We were told in committee in April that it would be any month. It is seven months later and there still is no new president. The minister just stated that the government had tasked the new leadership team to address the issues, but there is no new leader for Canada Post.

Why is the government waiting so long to address these important issues: the pension liability, the new president and a long-term plan for Canada Post?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Carla Qualtrough

Mr. Speaker, we heard clearly two things from Canadians.

First, we heard that they really loved Canada Post. If we politicians had the same approval ratings that Canada Post has, we would be in very good stead.

The other thing we heard was that Canadians did not want to pay for Canada Post. Therefore, our new vision for Canada Post includes tasking the leadership with focusing on a sustainable business model that does not rely on the government to bail it out. As it approaches these negotiations, it has to understand that this is an operating business, a competitive business.

As mail volume has decreased and parcel volume has increased, there are a lot of other players in the parcel business. We want to ensure that Canada Post has a flexible, innovative, creative business model moving forward to keep it competitive and to keep it being Canadians' parcel deliverer of choice, because that is what we heard.

With respect to the appointment of a permanent president, I can assure the member that is coming in the weeks or months ahead. We need to get the right person. I am confident we currently have the right person in the interim president, but I can assure the member there will be new leadership in the new year.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Carla Qualtrough

Mr. Speaker, the impact of the rotating strikes on the Canadian economy is very real. We have heard concerns from many small business owners and from many Canadians. Some of these small businesses earn up to 25% of their annual revenue in the months preceding Christmas. Consequently, if they cannot get their fares out to their customers, they risk having to close their doors.

We have heard from business associations and from the Retail Council of Canada. We have heard from people who own small, single-person businesses that are run out of their houses to major corporations that will be taking their business elsewhere. We have no guarantee they will bring it back.

With respect to the future viability of Canada Post, we have to understand the impact, not only short term but long term as well. However, the short-term impact is real. Businesses are losing business. We are now at the point that although there is an agreement that government cheques will be delivered, those cheques are being delayed. People are not getting their cheques. Even though they will get them eventually, there is a delay. When people rely on a cheque to buy food, even a day or two delay can be quite consequential for them and their families.

I can assure the member that we have sufficient and significant evidence of impact on the economy.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, there are two things to which I want to respond.

First, the minister said that she was concerned about reputational harm to Canada Post because of the strike. This is an indication of just how backward the priorities of the Liberal government are. Last year the company had 25% of its workforce injured on the job. It has five times the injury rate of the average in the federally regulated sector, yet the government is not concerned about the reputational harm that does. This tells me that the government is concerned about what companies like eBay and Amazon think about Canada Post, not about what working people think when they look at an injury rate like that in the workplace. Therefore, let us get on to addressing the reputational harm being done to Canada Post because of its injury rate.

The second thing that needs to be addressed is this. The minister talked about government cheques. My office has been receiving emails from postal workers with evidence of the fact that management at Canada Post has ordered them to withhold those cheques and not deliver them. If we on this side of the House know that, then it is unbelievable that the minister does not know about it. Why did she not bother to do anything about it when Canada Post issued that missive? This is not the first time we have brought this up in the House.

The fact is that if she wants to raise that issue, she should be talking about why Canada Post told postal workers to withhold those cheques. They delivered those cheques on a volunteer basis in 2011, when they were locked out. Postal workers are committed to ensuring that people who need that money get paid. It is management that has been running interference. That is the minister's job. What is she doing about it?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Lib.

Carla Qualtrough

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that I understand and respect the hard work of our postal workers. That is not at all what we are talking about today.

I can also assure you that we are concerned about the occupational health and safety of postal workers and that Canada Post is absolutely committed to addressing the reality of workplace injuries. That is one of my top priorities with respect to Canada Post.

With regard to my mention, with all due respect, of the reputational harm, I actually said that in passing. I know that is not the number one concern. However, if we want the good-paying jobs for postal workers three to five years from now, we need at Canada Post.

The number one priority for us is ensuring that individuals get their cheques and get their parcels so businesses can certainly do their business going into this season, when 25% to 30% of their annual revenue is being generated. I too have received so many emails and letters from individuals who are pleading with us to find a solution. We are absolutely committed to finding a way forward on this.

As I said, this is not the ideal situation, but it is a prudent course of action, given where we are now.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 12:40 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot to say with respect to this issue, so I am thankful for the opportunity to put some thoughts on the record about what is going on here.

There is an important thing to acknowledge at the outset. The substance of what we are talking about is a rotating strike at Canada Post that was designed to not completely interrupt the operation of Canada Post. By and large, people have actually been getting their mail. We have heard the numbers from people on the ground and in the plants who deliver the mail, and I think the government, along with management, is grossly exaggerating the extent of the backlog.

Nevertheless, we are talking about people's right to strike. We are talking about the right of Canadian workers to strike. I think it bears saying that nobody goes on strike lightly. Strikes are not pleasant or fun for the people who take part. They do it because they ultimately feel like they have no other recourse than to withhold their work to get their employer to pay attention to the demands they are making.

In this case, some of the central demands are about the injury rate and unplanned, mandatory overtime. Reasons vary from strike to strike, but the ultimate point is that it takes a lot to get workers to a place where they feel that the only thing left for them to do is not perform their work and put pressure on their employer to hear their demands so as to come to some kind of reasonable deal at the negotiating table.

Nobody should think that postal workers out there are happy to be on strike or that this is their first option. It comes at a financial price to the workers on strike, including in the case of this rotating strike. Nobody is getting paid for the days they are not working.

It is important to say that, and it is important to emphasize the right to collective bargaining. That is how workers have made gains over the past 100 or more years in order to get safe workplaces and better wages.

It is a right that is so important that it bears mentioning that the right itself is being contested today and has been contested in the past. In the general strike of 1919 in my home city of Winnipeg, the central demand was for the right to bargain collectively. At that time, it was typical that governments would step in and help companies bust up unions to make collective bargaining illegal in a workplace, which incidentally is what this Liberal law will do in the Canada Post workplace. That is why tens of thousands of people, both unionized and non-unionized workers, went out into the street. It was not because of a wage demand. It was because people saw the importance of collective bargaining in order to make a difference in their work life, their family life and in the life of their community.

Indeed, when workers have had that right to bargain collectively, we have seen healthier communities. On average, workers are paid in the order of about $5 more an hour when they have a union as opposed to when they do not. We know that some of the great gains in workplace safety and health that have happened over the last 100 or 150 years have been because organized workers in their workplaces have pushed the envelope. They pushed the envelope politically by electing people out of the labour movement to come into places like this to push those gains and have them applied to all workers, not just to workers in a unionized workplace. Collective bargaining has made that possible.

It is important to emphasize again, because the government seems to have forgotten, that the Supreme Court has recognized this form of bargaining. It is about getting together in the workplace when something is wrong that is affecting everybody in the workplace, and going to an employer with a united voice to say that something has to change. They like their work. They are proud of their work. They want to keep doing their work, but they want to be treated fairly. They want to be paid fairly and they want to come home at the end of the day. That is a right that Canadians enjoy.

RCMP members who were fighting for that right and who were barred by federal legislation for 100 years from bargaining collectively fought that battle in the Supreme Court and won in January 2015, winning a victory for themselves and for workers across the country to have that confirmed.

The Ontario Supreme Court confirmed that right in 2016 when it ruled on the back-to-work legislation of the Harper government, noting that it was unconstitutional.

I expect that that will be confirmed again by the court, because we have back-to-work legislation, again, that impinges on the right of Canadian workers to bargain collectively in their workplace to do better for themselves and their communities. We have heard from the union representing postal workers that, unfortunately, it is going to have to take the current government to court.

What it wants is a government willing to respect and defend the right to bargain collectively without a court order. I do not think that is a lot to ask.

As I said, we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the 1919 general strike. That strike lasted six weeks, cut across all industries, cut across already unionized members and non-unionized members, and the point was to safeguard this right. We have made a lot of progress since then.

It is amazing to me that even now, in the 21st century, after the court has said it is a charter right of Canadians to bargain collectively, after we have seen all the evidence of the good that collective bargaining has done for Canadian workers over the last 100 years, we would be in this place, of all places, arguing against a government that is introducing legislation to deny that right to a category of Canadian workers. I think that is shameful. I wanted to just back up a little and talk about the importance of collective bargaining in general and what it has done.

Now I would like to talk a little about another aspect of what we are discussing today, which is a motion that pertains to the back-to-work legislation that will significantly curtail debate on the legislation itself. It bears noting that we are not yet even debating the legislation itself. We only saw that legislation yesterday, and by the end of the day today, or in the wee hours of Saturday morning, that will all be said and done. It will be over.

We saw the actual wording of the legislation yesterday, and sometime just after midnight tonight this whole thing is going to be said and done with. I do not think that is what people expect when it comes to serious scrutiny of legislation. I think people expect there to be a role for Parliament in making these kinds of decisions. The fact of the matter is, when that is all the time there is, there is not.

Who are the people most directly affected by this legislation? It is the postal workers. They were not here on the Hill yesterday when the government tabled the legislation. They are out, across the country, for the most part, still delivering the mail. It is only a rotating strike. Most of them are at work. Any Canadian who is receiving a letter in their mailbox today will know that those postal workers are out working, as they have been since October 22 when the rotating strikes began. There were only a few days in any one particular area that actually had a meaningful disruption of service, and otherwise the mail has been delivered on time.

The question becomes, why is it that the postal workers do not have a chance for what is in the legislation to filter down? The government is making some argument here about how it is going to have a mediator, and how it is going to do this and that. It is anything to distract from the fact that it is actually taking away those workers' constitutional right to bargain at the negotiating table, which is what they and their duly elected representatives at the Canadian Union of Post Workers have said that they want to do. It is anything to distract from that.

However, postal workers are not going to have a chance to debate or talk about that amongst themselves, because they are out doing their job. The legislation was only made public yesterday. By the time this all wraps up and the postal worker who has been out delivering the mail, Monday to Friday, has an opportunity on Saturday to try to catch up on what has been happening here, what they are going to read is that they have already been legislated to work on Monday.

It is not just that politicians in this place want more time to discuss the legislation. That is not the only thing that is wrong with this super-closure motion that does not even allow for as many MPs as would like to get up and speak to the legislation, it puts a limit on the debate of several hours. It is ignoring the usual rules of this place, which means that only 10 or 12 MPs, at half an hour each, would be able to rise in this place to give a speech.

It is not just that. It is also the time that it takes for information about what is happening here to filter down to the real people it affects, and then for them to be able to send feedback back here, in terms of what they think.

However, the Liberals are taking away that opportunity from members of this place and also members of civil society and the workers who are going to be directly affected by this back-to-work legislation. I say shame on the government for that.

I want to address some of the particular issues of this strike. We are now in a position where the government has decided to get involved. I would argue that the government should have been involved on the issues, not the bargaining process, a long time ago, because none of these issues are new. None of these issues are a surprise. The fact of the matter is that one of the principal reasons Canada Post workers are out on strike is because they have an obscenely high rate of injury in the workplace.

Canada Post has a long history. It is an institution that has been around for a long time, but that injury rate has not. In the last 10 years or so there have been major changes in the way that Canada Post does its delivery, the system it uses and the equipment that it has asked postal workers to use, which has correlated with a serious increase in the injury rate. The way they plan their routes has also correlated with an increase in the use of mandatory overtime and injury rate. That is what postal workers are out there for.

If we take those injury numbers and project forward between now and Christmas, if things go just as they have been going at Canada Post, we are talking about at least 315 disabling injuries happening to postal workers between when this legislation passes and Christmas Day. That is an obscene level of injury.

I worked in the construction industry as an electrician before getting elected to this place. If I had showed up on a job site and been told that in the last year 25% of the construction workers who walked onto the site were injured, members better believe they would have a hard time finding people willing to do that. Therefore, it is a testament to the dedication of postal workers. It is exactly because they take pride in their job, and exactly because they believe in the work they are doing and understand the importance of people getting their mail, particularly vulnerable people and seniors who depend on getting that door-to-door delivery. Postal workers understand that better than anyone. It is a testament to them and their dedication that they have been out doing that work.

However, it is tough to hear the minister impugning their motives and talking about needing to do this on behalf of the vulnerable, on behalf of people who need their cheque, when we know, because we have been seen the evidence of it to our offices in pictures and emails and everything else, that there was a missive sent out by Canada Post management ordering the withholding of those OAS, GIS or social assistance cheques. If I were a postal worker, frankly, I cannot use the word to describe how I would feel because it is not parliamentary, but I would be angry if I heard, after receiving an order like that from management, that the minister was getting up in the House and blaming a rotating strike for the fact that those people were not getting paid. We know full well that it is because management chose to withhold those cheques that people are not getting paid.

I would point to an example from 2011 when postal workers were not on strike but locked out. It was the company that said it wanted to put a kibosh on delivering the mail, because it would put pressure on the government, or give an excuse. I do not think Canada Post needed to put pressure on the Harper government to intervene, but it provided a fig leaf for the Harper government to come in and legislate them back to work. The company locked them out, but postal workers showed up voluntarily to deliver people's cheques, because they knew the effect that would have. They should have expected some reciprocity from the government.

However, the minister has the audacity to get up in this place and talk about how concerned she is about people not getting their cheques. What about the Canada Post workers that the company cut off on October 22 when the rotating strike began, who were on short-term disability and have not been paid since, or the mothers who were on maternity leave and budgeted based on a top-up in their collective agreement that the company summarily took away from them? What about those people? Where is the concern for them?

What about the people on long-term disability who were denied their payments because of the company? Where is the sympathy for them? Where is the action for them? There are crocodile tears, indeed, from this minister, who wants to get up and sing some big swan song about people not being paid, when we know that postal workers would be happy to make sure that those cheques were delivered.

This is a government that did not even have the decency to make sure that people who are on short-term disability, because they work in a workplace with one of the highest injury rates in the country, were getting their cheques from the government. It is too much, frankly. It really is. One can get pretty worked up about it, and I have, on occasion.

It is all pretty rich coming from a government that says that it wants to stand up for women in the workplace and that it believes in pay equity. One of the major issues of this strike, along with the injury rate, is the fact that rural and suburban mail carriers, who are predominantly women, are not paid the same for doing the exact same work as their counterparts in urban centres, where there is a higher percentage of men delivering that mail. That is one of the union's key demands.

We have the minister of labour, on the one hand, getting up and bragging about pay equity legislation, which, if and when passed, will come into effect some 10 years from now. We are supposed to give her a pat on the back and be really proud of her for the great work she is doing, when the government is screwing Canada Post workers with this back-to-work legislation and not letting them get meaningful action on pay equity. This is something it could do now, just by getting out of the way, at least.

It would be better if the government gave a meaningful mandate to the Canada Post managers it hired and told them to get to the bargaining table and get serious about pay equity, get serious about reducing the injury rate, and actually listen to what the union is proposing, because the government wants a deal that brings that injury rate down and brings meaningful pay equity to postal workers. That is what the government should be doing.

Instead, from the beginning, there has been inaction. The Liberals talk about how negotiations have been going on for a year but have not gotten anywhere. That is because Canada Post management clearly does not have a mandate to make progress. Canada Post does not have a mandate to take the demands of the union seriously, when it comes to the workplace injury rate or pay equity, or we would have seen some movement, and we have not. There is a reason for that.

The Liberal government is now saying that now there is a crisis, and it has no choice but to do this. It has had a choice. The Liberals have had a choice since they formed the government to put a management team in Canada Post that was going to tackle these issues and make meaningful progress so that by the time they got to the bargaining table, there was a better relationship because there was evidence of it actually reducing the injury rate and making progress on pay equity. They decided not to do that. That is how we got here.

When the rotating strike began, and Canada Post made the callous decision to punish its most sick and vulnerable workers, the government could have sent a signal that this was not okay, that it was not going to be that kind of bargaining. If management at Canada Post thought it was to go on the attack to try to break this strike instead of taking meaningful action on those demands, it was going to have to answer to the government. Instead, the government stood silent.

We stood up day after day asking the government to do something about it, and it took a pass. If my colleagues think that did not send a clear message to Canada Post that it was going to get off the hook acting like a bunch of Pinkertons and strike breakers, they have another think coming.

Two weeks into the rotating strike, when the government signalled a readiness to bring in back-to-work legislation, it poisoned the well. From that point on, at least when it was public, there was no chance that Canada Post was going to provide a negotiated deal at the table, because it knew that the government was going to come in and save its skin. For the Liberal members to get up and tell us that they had no choice or that they have not been partisan in these negotiations is just a total load of crap. Wake up.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a difficult conversation. I agree with the minister when she says that a negotiated outcome and decision would be better.

The parties do not seem to be close. There are obviously consequences for the Canadian economy more broadly. I do not say that as a member of the government formally, but I can imagine sitting in the minister's shoes and looking more broadly at my responsibility to the Canadian economy and Canadian society. I have heard about the impact on small business and international commerce. How do we balance all these considerations?

The member was very insistent that this legislation would be unconstitutional. However, we know that in 2011, when the court made a decision that the 2011 legislation was unconstitutional, it was because it was not minimally impairing and did not allow the union to have an equal footing in the mediation and arbitration process, which this legislation, in my view, would do in a proper way.

I wonder if the member can speak to minimal impairment and why he thinks this legislation is unconstitutional.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I said that the union is going to be taking this legislation to court, and I suspect that it may well find that the government does not respect people's right to bargain collectively, because it should be at the table.

If we heard it from the Conservatives it would be one thing. We are hearing it from a government that swears up and down that it believes in the collective bargaining process.

I talked about all the things the government has done in terms of failing to act on the injury rate and other things. This crisis did not just come because the workers, as a last resort, decided to go out on rotating strikes. These are not new issues. They did not come out of nowhere. Instead of trying to put this on Canada Post workers, who are using their tool of last resort to get action, the government needs to own up and say that it should have been doing something about this a long time ago. It needs to recognize the fact that a number of actions the government took in this process over the last four weeks or five weeks poisoned the well. That is not what good-faith collective bargaining looks like, and it is certainly not what a government that supports collective bargaining looks like.

As long as governments that profess to be supportive of collective bargaining are the ones to undercut it and effectively take it away, then, legal point notwithstanding, we are not going to find ourselves in a position in Canada where workers are able to exercise their rights meaningfully. Companies are going to know that when they come asking, as long as they are big enough, as long as they are an eBay, a Netflix, a Facebook or an Air Canada, and I am thinking about what the Liberals did to aircraft maintenance workers with Bill C-10, which allowed Air Canada to offshore a bunch of maintenance work, contrary to what the government was saying before the election, the government is going to see to it that they get their way. Workers are not going to have meaningful rights in Canada, whatever their legal status is.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague's track record in raising concerns by union members and constituents in his riding. I would like him to address two things. I have been hearing from a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in my riding, recently from a Bobcat business and The Bowmanville Foundry, about problems with payments because of the mail situation. I would like the member to comment on whether he is hearing those same concerns. I think what Parliament needs to balance are these concerns.

I would also like his comments on the parliamentary secretary and how that member, when he was in opposition, certainly took a different approach to back-to-work legislation and how it must frustrate the NDP to see the Liberals on their side in opposition and not on their side in government. I would like his thoughts on that.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to comment on a couple of things. I will start with the last one. It has been a real disappointment. I think we can see in the ashen look of the parliamentary secretary when he gets up to speak that he does not even believe what he is saying. However, he is part of a government, whatever the principles of the people who may happen to belong to it are, that is first and foremost committed to Bay Street.

In this case, the oddity is that it is Canada Post. It is a publicly run corporation, so the question is why the government would not do something about it. The answer is the letter from eBay. A big multinational is upset about what is going on, so the government has to jump to it. I do not think the parliamentary secretary believes what he is saying, and all the more the shame. On something this important, we should be getting a sincere answer. If the government cannot provide a sincere answer, that is how we know it is doing the wrong thing.

On the question of businesses being impacted by the rotating strikes, first of all, I express some sympathy. There is some disruption. There is no strike without disruption. Part of the point is to show the value of the work postal workers do every day, and when they are not there to do it, it is a problem. However, when 25% of them are being injured in a year, there is going to be a crisis eventually. It is not going to be because of a strike; it is going to be because they cannot maintain the workforce that is out pounding the pavement and getting those letters and parcels delivered. There is a crisis at Canada Post in terms of the injury rate, and something needs to be done about it.

I have sympathy for business. I have sympathy for Canadians. I am among them. Christmas is coming, and we do online shopping too. It is inconvenient. It is a pain. I understand that. However, I do not think it is appropriate to put this all back on workers who have been working under terrible conditions for years.

We need to be asking why Canada Post does not take responsibility for the fact that there has been a work stoppage because there is a seriously high injury rate and other issues of fairness in its workplace. It should be it sorted out for the sake of business.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Independent

Erin Weir Independent Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, we just had a government member stand up and ask the opposition to explain why this proposed back-to-work legislation might be unconstitutional. All we know for sure is that the last time the Government of Canada ordered postal workers back to work, it was ruled unconstitutional.

A way we might be able to figure out whether this proposed legislation is also unconstitutional is by having a full debate on it in the House and a rigorous study of it at committee. If even Liberal MPs are asking whether this legislation is unconstitutional, it really seems to make the case against the motion to accelerate the back-to-work legislation and in favour of doing our due diligence as parliamentarians.

Something else the government has said is a bit rich. We heard the Minister of Public Services and Procurement say that other countries have stopped delivering mail to Canada, as though this is some sort of international crisis. It is pretty important to put on the record that the reason other countries are not delivering mail to Canada is that Canada Post itself has asked them not to. There is a problem with the government taking an action from Canada Post management and using it as a justification for applying back-to-work legislation against its employees.

I wonder if the member for Elmwood—Transcona can think of any other instances of the government using that tactic in this debate.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation ActGovernment Orders

November 23rd, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the great frustrations of this whole situation. We have had Canada Post management claim that there is a huge backlog. We have reports from the people who actually work in the facilities where the trucks are saying that those numbers are hugely inflated.

As the member rightly pointed out, we have Canada Post telling mail services outside of Canada not to send mail into Canada and then saying, “Oh my God, nobody's sending mail to Canada. This is terrible. We need to have back-to-work legislation”. We have a minister who herself got up earlier and talked about people's assistance cheques not being delivered. She failed to mention the fact that, actually, Canada Post management told its employees that they were not allowed to deliver that mail.

This has been part of the problem all along. It is consistent with the pattern of signalling we have seen from the government when it decided to ignore the attack on sick and vulnerable workers and when it signalled, only a couple of weeks into the strike, that it was contemplating back-to-work legislation. It has been complicit in, and in fact, is now starting to repeat, these trumped-up claims by management about a crisis.

These are textbook strike-breaking techniques. It is not a mystery what they are doing or where the ideas come from. This is the way these things are done. To see a government that says that it is pro-labour and wants to defend the middle class and have a good relationship with Canada's unions using the textbook techniques of strike-breaking, right here in this place with its legislation, is just too much to take, frankly. It makes me really angry. I hope Canadians out there who are working people who want fairness in their workplaces and fair wages are paying attention and can see through this sham.