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


Louise Chabot  Bloc

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


Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of May 30, 2022

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

This enactment amends the Canada Labour Code to make it an offence for employers to hire replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2024 / 12:20 p.m.
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Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1977, under René Lévesque's Parti Québécois government, the Quebec Labour Code banned the use of replacement workers.

The Quebec labour minister at the time, Pierre Marc Johnson, said the following when the legislation was introduced, and I quote: “The purpose of this measure is not to automatically close factories during a lockout or legal strike, but rather to restore a healthy balance between the parties and eliminate practices that cause tension and violence during labour disputes.... Workers, not companies, are the first to suffer as a result of a work stoppage, and letting the employer carry on as though nothing is wrong during a lockout or legal strike creates a fundamental imbalance between the parties.”

This was a major step forward for workers' rights in Quebec and a defining moment in the history of the labour movement and its struggle.

Today, 46 years later, Bill C-58 seeks to amend the Canada Labour Code to ban replacement workers. Bravo, or should I say, “it is about time”?

It is certainly a step forward for the rights of federally regulated workers, but above all, it is making up for lost time. The fate of thousands of workers and their right to bargain and to strike has been, continues to be and will continue to be undermined by this inexcusable delay, at least until the bill comes into force 12 months after receiving royal assent.

The effects of this injustice are still being felt. Quebec workers live under two systems. Federally regulated workers in Quebec who are currently in a dispute are paying the price for this injustice. Think of the port of Quebec workers who have been locked out for nearly two years. The employer is using replacement workers. No one is talking about it. No one is working on fixing this because it is business as usual. This is unacceptable.

Think of the Vidéotron employees in Gatineau, who are also locked out. In that telecommunications sector, thousands of jobs are being outsourced to call centres overseas. They too have been locked out for several months, and replacement workers are being used.

At the port of Sorel‑Tracy, the United Steelworkers went on strike for 12 months, and scabs were brought in.

I could continue to list all of the injustices and shameful practices that employers have engaged in with impunity because, to date, the Canada Labour Code has not been changed to remedy this injustice.

Unions have been calling for anti-scab legislation as part of the Canada Labour Code for a long time, and so has the Bloc Québécois. Over the past 33 years, there have been 11 bills, the very first of which was tabled in 1990 by the dean of the House, the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel. Time after time, the Liberals and the Conservatives have blocked the Bloc Québécois's bills. I myself introduced Bill C-276 in this Parliament in May 2022.

The fight was waged by unions and the Bloc Québécois, with constant prodding and the strength of our convictions. The NDP will take credit for that. It was certainly part of that struggle too and, indeed, we commend its work, just as we commend that of the Department of Labour and the leadership the minister has shown.

However, there is a “but”, and it is a big “but”. Unfortunately, we have to wonder, given the way the bill has been crafted, with the proposed implementation deadline, for one, whether there is any real intention for this bill to actually see the light of day or whether it is just window dressing, meant to look good.

Everyone knows as well as I do that there is a clear difference between fact and appearance, just as there is a difference between declared values and practised values.

From the beginning, the Bloc Québécois has condemned the fact that the initial bill provided for an 18-month coming-into-force period following royal assent. Given this time frame and the fact that we have a minority government, it is no wonder that we are questioning the intent. We proposed an amendment in committee to repeal this delay, proposing that the bill come into force as soon as it receives royal assent. This amendment was rejected by all parties, because the NDP and the Liberals had agreed in advance to propose a 12-month delay. However, the vast majority of the unions we heard from said that there was no explanation for the delay and they too wanted the bill to take effect right after royal assent. That is what it means to protect workers, and the Bloc Québécois stepped up.

When we began studying the bill, we announced that we also wanted to improve it in committee and move fast to close the loophole to ensure that the nonsense of using scabs is banned for good. We proposed carefully chosen amendments put forward by the unions. Among other things, these amendments aimed to include federal public service employees and thus correct a major omission. The government, as an employer, has excluded its own employees from the scope of the bill. We proposed a relevant amendment, but it was ruled out of order because it would amend another act. In principle, however, it is very unfortunate that the bill does not apply to federal government employees. This error needs to be corrected and I hope it will be corrected.

We also made amendments to amend or repeal sections that allow exceptions to the prohibition rule. It may seem complicated. Strikebreakers are prohibited, but there are exceptions. Among the exceptions, I would particularly mention employees covered prior to the bargaining notice. The employer is permitted to use these employees as replacements for striking employees in the event of a dispute, lockout or strike.

It would even be possible for an employee in a bargaining unit of the same employer—but in a different local—to be called upon to replace workers or colleagues during a strike or lockout. This makes no sense whatsoever. The unions have rightly denounced this. If the law is supposed to be consistent, how can certain categories of workers, such as subcontractors and independent contractors, be excluded from this restriction? That sort of thing is prohibited under Quebec's law.

We also proposed an amendment to provide for an investigation mechanism that exists under the Quebec code. If the government wants to impose sanctions, if it wants to be tougher, it has to give the Canada Industrial Relations Board the means to do its job and investigate if the employer breaks the law. Employees cannot do that. Employees who are on strike or locked out cannot enter the factory or their employer's premises. An investigator would have to be called in. This amendment was also rejected.

We had also proposed an amendment to reduce the time limits for the Canada Industrial Relations Board orders so as not to unduly interfere with the strike. All these amendments were rejected.

We are disappointed that these proposed improvements were rejected. They are essential for ensuring the consistency of the bill's objective of fully recognizing the fundamental right to free collective bargaining and the right to strike. However, we can be proud that we put them forward, stood by our convictions, and listened to and supported union demands in the fight for workers' rights.

If the past is any indication, an opportunity to reform the legislation is unlikely to come around again any time soon. This supposedly historic bill deserved more care and attention to achieve its objectives. I hope that history will vindicate the struggle of workers and finally rectify the injustice they have laboured under for so many years.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

May 24th, 2024 / 10:25 a.m.
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Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that my colleague opposite sees the glass as half full. If I were on the same side of the House as he is, I would likely try to do the same thing.

He also mentioned that the government acted very quickly on Bill C-58. I would like to remind him that the first bill was introduced by my colleague from Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel in 1990 and that 30 bills have been introduced since then, including my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville's Bill C-276.

Since we are talking about timelines, the Bloc Québécois wants this bill to come into force as soon as it receives royal assent, but we could not come to an agreement in committee with the other parties, which want an 18-month delay between royal assent and the coming into force of the bill. We did, however, manage to agree on a 12-month delay. We are still concerned, because the bill could be at risk if an election is called before it comes into force.

Since the government wants to move so quickly and since everyone agrees with that, as indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government who sees the glass as half full, why can Bill C-58 not come into force as soon as it receives royal assent?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

December 14th, 2023 / 3:25 p.m.
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Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to applaud Bill C‑58, the anti-scab legislation. People have been waiting decades for this bill.

I am a Quebecker, and our anti-scab legislation was already in place when I was born. Now, a bill has been introduced. I would not go so far as to say that I was hoping for this back when I was two, but I will say that I have been waiting for it for decades.

The Bloc Québécois has been waiting for it, too. The Bloc Québécois has introduced several bills in the decades since 1990. My colleague from Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, who is still in the House, introduced the first bill on this subject. He was actually my MP at the time. Since then, 11 bills have been placed on the Order Paper, evidence that the Bloc Québécois is determined to protect workers and protect the right to negotiate.

I want to thank all the Bloc Québécois MPs and teams before us who strove to advance the issue of justice and workers' rights. I would also like to thank my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville, who introduced Bill C-276 at the start of this Parliament. Her bill also seeks to ban the use of strikebreakers. My colleague worked tirelessly, just like the others I mentioned earlier. I commend her. She is persevering and willing to collaborate, someone who believes in social justice and who has a lot to teach the members of my caucus and, I hope, the other members of the House and all the people she meets and talks to about labour issues in particular.

There is an expression that I like a lot, and I use it whenever I can, although it is not mine, of course. It is the idea that, whenever we do something great, we were often building on the work of those who came before us. We are often dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants, if I may use a mythological or fairy tale image. We owe a lot to our predecessors. There are also other people who worked to pave the way for what we have achieved at this moment in history.

There are other political parties. I would like to acknowledge the work of the NDP on this matter, as well as the unions. When I say unions, I also mean workers. They are the giants. They are the ones who came to us and showed us the value, the necessity, of passing laws to protect the right to negotiate. I would like to thank all the people who got us here today. I hope that this will move faster through the House than it has in recent decades. It is urgent.

At the start of my speech, I mentioned that Quebec has had a law on the books since 1976. I am sure we can come up with something equivalent for areas under federal jurisdiction. Time is of the essence.

A bill has been introduced. We were waiting for it. In the current context, we are theoretically two years away from an election. We would like the work to move forward, for things to happen quickly. Of course, there is filibustering in the House, but we hope that within the next two years, the bill will be passed, will receive royal assent and will come into force immediately. However, the bill has `an 18-month time frame. Why 18 months? We have been waiting for a bill for 50 years. Why can it not be implemented immediately? That is the first question. I think it is an essential question that we are asking.

We are also concerned about the part of the bill that sets out exceptions. We are still wary of the exceptions. Of course, it is relevant, but we still have to define what a “threat to the life, health or safety of any person” means. At first glance, it looks like it is intended to provide protection. We are not against virtue, but we also do not want this clause to become a kind of catch-all clause that allows employers to circumvent the bill and get out of having to uphold workers' right to freely negotiate.

Those are two elements I wanted to mention. The Bloc Québécois sees them as red flags. We would like to get answers very quickly. I presume that could be done in committee. If we can deal with these two elements that we have concerns about, we think the bill could be passed very quickly. I repeat, we want it to be passed and to receive royal assent, but we also want it to come into force as soon as it receives royal assent so we can protect as many workers as possible by defending their rights.

I spoke about equity and rights, and I would like to touch on that again. Reduced to its simplest expression, the bill simply aims to level the playing field. If one of the parties to the negotiations has all the power, it is difficult for the other party to assert their needs, desires and rights. I think it is almost a truism, it is so obvious. What we want to do is to restore the balance of power so that workers can also participate in the negotiations. This will allow them to reach a compromise solution quickly and effectively at the bargaining table, which would be a win-win. It is good for workers, but also for employers, which, in my opinion, have everything to gain from a law that will allow the parties to sit at the table and settle disputes quickly.

I have managed to address only three of the 10 points I wanted to get to, so I will pick up the pace.

I would remind members that the holidays are approaching and that the Bloc Québécois has always been a workers' party. We have always tried to defend workers. Manicouagan is a riding where there are a lot of workers under federal jurisdiction, in particular in the air and rail transport sectors. There are also a lot of people who work for the post office. There are workers under federal jurisdiction everywhere in Quebec and Canada, but there are a lot in my riding. I think about them, about the people in Quebec City and the dock workers at the Port of Québec, for example, who have been in a labour dispute for more than a year now. This dispute has been going on for a long time and it cannot be settled, precisely because there is an unfair power relationship. The employer has more power than the employees.

I would also like to remind my colleagues in the opposition of the following. I do not want to put words in the mouth of my colleague from Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, but I think he said earlier that he was worried that workers would cause inflation as a result of their demands in the negotiations for a new collective agreement. I find that kind of talk dangerous. I would like him to discuss the matter with his Conservative colleagues from the Quebec City region, who are likely, if I am not mistaken, to join him in voting against this bill. They would be voting against the people in the ridings adjacent to the Quebec City region, who have already been paying the price for more than a year because MPs do not want to vote for a bill that would level the playing field in labour negotiations.

I will conclude with this. I hope that the Conservatives will get around to telling us their position on the bill soon. That being said, the Bloc Québécois will give the bill its full support, because we care about workers.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2023 / 5:05 p.m.
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Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this evening in support of Bill C‑58. I will say from the outset that I am very proud that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the anti-scab bill. We have been asking for so long that it be passed quickly. We urge all parties in the House to do whatever it takes to pass it as quickly as possible. We will be very pleased when the bill truly passes, including in the Senate, and the government hastens to implement it.

I am sure that my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou will provide more details on this than I will. The longshore workers at the Port of Québec are currently on strike in her riding. They have waited long enough. They saw that their right to strike was not being respected because ports are under federal jurisdiction.

I have to say that Bill C-58 is the culmination of a lengthy undertaking. It constitutes a major step forward for workers. They earned it. This bill should have been passed a long time ago. It restores the balance of power between employers and employees in labour disputes once and for all.

The use of scabs has been banned in Quebec since 1977. It is now 2023, and there are still unionized employees in Quebec who work for federally regulated businesses who do not have the same rights. It is as though we have two categories of unionized workers in Quebec. We therefore have a tendency to forget that the use of scabs is completely archaic. We must allow all workers to assert their rights in a labour dispute. We cannot really tolerate the use of scabs. We are wondering why it took the government so long to introduce this bill, given that it has been in office since 2015.

In every sector under federal jurisdiction, when there is a labour dispute and when workers use their ultimate pressure tactic, when the workers choose and use their right to strike, the employer can simply resort to using scabs. That means the power relationship is broken in favour of the employer. The power is given to the employer. There is an imbalance in the bargaining relationship, the power relationship. It is completely unfair. In 2023, it makes absolutely no sense.

We are talking about people who work for railway companies, airlines, the banking sector, and the ports across Quebec and Canada. We know that currently in Quebec there are many workers on strike. Imagine if scabs were used to replace the 420,000 workers on strike in Quebec. That would upset the balance that allows workers to assert their rights. That would be completely unacceptable. That is why we think it is high time to implement Bill C‑58 as soon as possible.

The bill was introduced by the government. We have to assume that they will vote in favour of it. We also know that the NDP supports it. The Bloc Québécois is also on board. That means three parties agree that the bill should pass. Normally, based on the usual legislative process, if the bill makes it to committee, we should be able to pass it by Christmas. The three recognized parties in the House that are publicly advocating for the bill's passage need to get to work to pass it quickly.

As I said earlier, everyone except the Conservatives agrees that we need anti-scab legislation. I would be remiss if I did not mention the speech by the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, who is from Quebec. He did not say a word about his position, as a member from Quebec, on the whole issue of scabs.

I can say that this came as a great surprise to me, because he is usually a very diligent MP. It is clear here that he is just toeing the party line and avoiding taking a stand.

I am probably coming off as a little impatient. Frankly, I am stunned that we are debating such an important bill today, so many years after Quebec passed similar legislation.

All the same, I would like to remind my colleagues that this is not the first time we have debated such a bill in the House of Commons. In 1990, a certain MP for Richelieu, who is now the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel and our one and only dean in the House, introduced a bill on this subject. At that time, there were five Bloc Québécois MPs; they were recognized as independent MPs. All that to say, it has been a long time. This is not our first attempt. Thirty-three years ago, the dean of today's House introduced an anti-scab bill. Members can understand my impatience. I think it is amply justified.

Over the years, 10 other anti-scab bills have been tabled by Bloc Québécois members, on top of those tabled by NDP members. That is quite a number of times that we have worked together to try and create modern legislation to govern the working relationship between union members and employers.

I will take a moment to commend the members who have teamed up with workers and unions over the years. Bernard St‑Laurent, a former member for Manicouagan, introduced a bill in 1995. Osvaldo Nunez did so in 1996. Ghislain Fournier, another former member for Manicouagan, did so in 1998, 2001 and 2002. He was quite determined and introduced his bill three times.

I am also thinking of Monique Guay, a former member for Laurentides, with whom I had the opportunity to sit. She introduced her bill in 2002. I am thinking of Roger Clavet, a former member for Louis‑Hébert, who introduced his bill in 2004. Richard Nadeau, a former member for Gatineau, tabled one in 2006. I am also thinking of Mario Laframboise, a member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who introduced his bill in 2010.

People have put a great deal of effort into this issue. Obviously, I am thinking of my colleague from Thérèse‑De Blainville, who introduced her own anti-scab bill this year, Bill C‑276, to put pressure on the current Liberal government, which was being slow to keep its promise.

The Bloc Québécois wants this bill. We are working tirelessly with workers to get it passed and, above all, to get it implemented.

Given that background, I cannot understand why the government decided provide for an 18-month delay before this bill comes into force. I find that very hard to accept. Anyone who cares about workers cannot understand why this bill, which was long awaited by unionized workers, most members of the House, and especially the Port of Québec strikers, will not come into force until 18 months after it receives royal assent.

I sincerely hope that we will be able to convince the Liberals to drop that provision, which makes no sense, and that we will all be able to agree that the dignity of our striking workers is at stake.

I will close by saying that, if we go through the process quickly in the House, then there will be work to do in committee. I hope that the members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities will rise to the occasion and unite to give our unionized workers their dignity. They have been deserving of this bill for a long time.

Ocean Group EmployeesStatements by Members

January 31st, 2023 / 2 p.m.
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Marilène Gill Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Madam Speaker, today the Bloc Québécois stood with the workers of Ocean Group who, for several months, have been demanding their right to negotiate on equal footing with their employer.

In solidarity with these workers, the Bloc Québécois has reiterated its support for anti-scab legislation like Bill C‑276, which my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville introduced.

We also reminded the government of the promise the Liberal Party made during its election campaign in 2021, that is, the promise to quickly implement anti-scab legislation. That was in 2021. It is now 2023.

Quebec has had its own law since 1977. Canada, once again, is trailing behind. The government needs to get things moving, introduce a draft bill if it must. The Bloc Québécois will support any bill that is line with the spirit of workers' demands.

Finally, to all the employees, steelworkers and union members of Ocean Group, the Bloc Québécois is with them, with strength, solidarity and respect.

Canada Labour CodeRoutine Proceedings

May 30th, 2022 / 4:15 p.m.
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Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-276, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to introduce this anti-scab bill to protect workers during a strike or lockout. This is a long-standing demand of workers and unions, and I am proud that my colleague from Manicouagan supports this bill. She is a steadfast ally of working people.

It is quite simple: If we want to foster industrial peace, free bargaining, and sound and sensible labour law practices, then the right to association, the right to free bargaining and the right to strike must be guaranteed. The failure to put anti-scab provisions in place undermines the power to bargain.

Such provisions have existed in the Quebec Labour Code since 1977, and this has contributed to industrial peace. In fact, federally regulated business see twice as many strikes or long lockouts as we see in Quebec, and this is due to the absence of anti-scab legislation.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-276, and it is not the first. We hope that this will be a priority. It is unfortunate that it was not in the budget, but there is still time to do the right thing and act. That is where we want to go.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)