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Dec. 9, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code
Dec. 8, 2021 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code

January 18th, 2022 / 4 p.m.
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Deputy Minister, Department of Health

Dr. Stephen Lucas

We recognize the incredible contribution that health care workers have made and continue to make during the pandemic. The government took action to protect health care workers through amendments to the Criminal Code under what was called Bill C-3, which was passed prior to the holiday recess. This is an important step to ensure that they are free from intimidation and harassment to enable them to do the critical work that they do day in and day out.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 16th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise quite sheepishly, having not received the memo on the festive tone of this afternoon's debates, so I will ask members to indulge me. In my community, plain talk is not bad manners, and I have prepared a full speech that does identify some gaps, which I think are germane to the conversation. This is not intended in any way to end off on a bad note or a sour note, but to really contemplate deeply what is at stake here in the House. It keeps me up at night, like many members I am sure, and it wakes me up early in the morning.

While there remains much to be said about the timing and need of the last election called by the Prime Minister, I have to admit the opportunity for me to retreat from this place of privilege and return to the doorsteps of my constituency provided me with an invaluable grounding for what is at stake among these future proceedings of the session. This is a monumental day, and I do not want to take anything away from that. It is a burden that we carry. In fact, we have asked millions of Canadians to carry a very heavy burden in order to make it through this COVID pandemic.

While returning to this topic and supporting Bill C-3, having heard the various interventions pertaining to the same, many members have questioned the relationship between the first two parts of this bill, which would amend the Criminal Code, and the third part, which would be establishing something under the Canada Labour Code.

For those from the public, and who may be tuning in to this debate through livestream, or perhaps reading it in the Hansard, I will provide a summary of Bill C-3. The first two parts would amend the Criminal Code by creating two new offences relating to the protection of health care professionals and patient access to health care. The first offence would apply to any act of intimidation that is intended to cause fear in a patient, health care professional or any person who supports them and prevents them from accessing or providing health care services. The second offence would also cover intentional acts that prevent a person from accessing services provided by a health care professional. Both offences would be punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 10 years and up to two years on a summary conviction.

Part three, which seems to be where perhaps some people have the disconnect between these two, pertains to amending the Canada Labour Code to establish 10 days of paid sick leave. This leave would be available each calendar year to employees in federally regulated private sectors who have been continuously employees for more than one month.

In fairness, perhaps on the surface these two policies under different acts may not appear to be connected. It is in fact my intention today to offer my support for the deep relevance between these two interconnected parts. I would argue that the deep despair and well-documented societal impacts of four consecutive waves of COVID, each with its own circumstances of social isolation and economic hardships, are ultimately due to all levels of government's failure to adequately respond to the scale and the scope of this pandemic.

The utter fear, uncertainty and doubt experienced by segments of our population have made them especially susceptible to this anti-science, anti-government and, by extension, anti-health care movement, from which come many of the targeted and vile attacks we are now legislatively responding to

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers have faced a high risk of infection and violence. In fact, since long before the pandemic health care professionals are four times more likely to experience violence in the workplace than other profession. Unfortunately, many of these acts of violence go unreported. According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, in 2019 61% of nurses reported experiencing violence, harassment and assault on the job, and because women make up a significant portion of the health care workforce, they are disproportionately victimized by these acts of violence.

To discourage these acts of violence, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has recommended amending the Criminal Code, which is what is before us today, so I commend them on their long-standing work. This request was also the subject of a 2019 health committee recommendation. Specifically, the committee recommended amending the Criminal Code to require that it be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing if the victim of assault is a health care worker. This recommendation was based upon the NDP's bill, Bill C-434, introduced by my dear friend and NDP caucus colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.

As it pertains to putting the 10-day paid sick leave issue into context, people should never have to choose between their income and their health. Since the beginning of this pandemic, the NDP caucus has been demanding that the Liberals provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave.

After winning an initial concession on this leave by offering it to people with COVID-19, we succeeded in forcing the Liberals to offer two weeks of federally funded leave through the CRB sickness benefit. The New Democrats not only support 10 paid sick days, we led the calls for it in the House. My hon. colleague for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie fought hard at committee, where he tabled four amendments, two that were unanimously supported and two that were rejected.

I feel it important to note on the record today that the NDP fought for amendments that were accepted unanimously. One is that an employer cannot request a doctor's certificate for less than five consecutive sick days. This is major because stakeholders say that asking for a doctor's certificate is a barrier to its use and people would rather go to work than chase an appointment. Plus we know that it clogs up the health care system when it does not need to.

The second amendment that passed due to the hon. member is after 30 days of employment, the employee gets one day of sick leave. In the original version of the law, it was at the beginning of each month, which would have meant that someone hired on January 1 would have to wait until March 1 for their first accrued day.

Both amendments were intended to make sick days more accessible and the NDP forced the issue to make the program more accessible to workers and more responsive to their needs. This is a victory. The five consecutive days before the employer has the option to request a doctor's certificate will make a significant difference.

We did, however, have two other amendments that failed. The first amendment opposed by the Liberals was that all employees, upon hiring, would have access to four paid sick days. They would accumulate another six, one per month, as proposed in the bill, of up to 10 per year. Having four days right from the start is very important because stakeholders tell us that very rarely do people take a day off work and an illness often requires a few days off.

The minister, in his testimony yesterday morning, said that he was open to such an amendment, speaking of the urgency of the current omicron context. By voting against the amendment, the Liberals have refused to speed up access to paid sick days in the midst of another pandemic winter. Workers will continue to go to work sick since they will not have access to enough days to isolate themselves at home until next November at the earliest. This is irresponsible.

The second amendment that the Liberals opposed was that all employees with two or more years of seniority would get 10 sick days when the law came into effect. This would have provided access to the full strength of the program immediately for the majority of employees under federal jurisdiction. Since this amendment was rejected, all employees will begin accrual as if they were newly hired. I suggest that this is precisely because of these types of gaps in our social safety nets that we ultimately remain in this mess of targeted attacks on our hospitals and health care workers.

Last week, called on the hon. member on the Conservative side to join our calls for more advances and protections. We have the opportunity to take a first step in the right direction in the House today as an informal form of sectoral bargaining for workers. We know this is going to be a vital protection.

This past election allowed me to speak to my constituents on their doorsteps. It is heartbreaking to feel as though people who I know to be rational, family members and classmates who I grew up with, neighbours I have known to be caring and compassionate, have been manipulated by the rhetoric of right-wing populism, grifters and agitators who would seek to turn this profound moment of suffering into some sort of personal sales pitch or nationwide tour targeting our front-line health care workers fighting the onslaught of successive waves of COVID.

For those caught up in this fear and confusion, I offer to endeavour to work harder as a member of Parliament to ensure that their basic needs are met and the most current evidence-based information is communicated without political interference or manipulation.

I call on the members of the House, who have rightly identified the divisions in our country, to recognize its root cause. It is the failure of all levels of government to adequately take care of the basic needs of all people, not just throughout COVID but in the decades preceding it.

I will close with the simple reassertion that these three parts of Bill C-3 are the cause and the effect of the social isolation, political estrangement and economic isolation felt by everyday people and, most unfortunate, targeted at our front-line health care workers. In taking better care of them, we will take better care of each other.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 16th, 2021 / 4:40 p.m.
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Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Madam Speaker, I was not planning to speak today, but I would like to after all. I listened to my colleagues' wonderful speeches, including the one by my colleague opposite. I believe that what we are doing today is very important.

I lost my daughter at birth 30 years ago. She was stillborn. I do not want to talk about that event specifically, but I do want to talk about what happened at work, where people had a hard time understanding what I was going through. That was 30 years ago, of course.

I would like to ask my colleague how Bill C‑3 will change the workplace experience for the men and women dealing with this kind of situation. Why is this bill important for them?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 16th, 2021 / 4:15 p.m.
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St. John's South—Mount Pearl Newfoundland & Labrador


Seamus O'Regan LiberalMinister of Labour

moved that Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply grateful for the leadership shown in the House today. All parties supported Bill C-3 at second reading; all parties supported Bill C-3 at committee, and all parties are now supporting the passage of Bill C-3 with reasoned amendments from the opposition.

I want to recognize my opposition critics: the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and the member for Thérèse-De Blainville. We worked with urgency and with openness.

I want to thank the members of HUMA for taking up this bill with the swiftness it deserved and giving it due and reasoned consideration.

I also want to recognize the House leaders, as well as the Minister of Justice, for their work.

I want to recognize all the officials who worked diligently on this legislation.

The pandemic has shown us that many workers do not have paid sick leave.

No one should have to choose between staying home when they are sick or being able to afford rent and groceries.

We are proposing amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide all federally regulated private sector workers with 10 days of paid sick leave.

We are working with the provinces, territories and other interested stakeholders to develop with an action plan to legislate sick leave across the country.

Approximately 955,000 employees, approximately 6% of all Canadian employees, are working for 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries. In 2019, about 582,700 employees, representing 63.3% of all employees employed in federally regulated industries, had access to fewer than 10 days of paid sick leave to treat a personal illness or injury. Statistics from 2019 show that Canadian workers took an average of eight-and-a-half days of leave for illness and issues related to a disability.

As a government, we moved quickly and urgently on this bill, and parliamentarians of all parties and in both chambers have done the same. The last two years have shown us the cost of what further inaction would be: people forced to choose between going into work sick and risk spreading the virus to others and being able to afford groceries or rent, productivity loss, quarantine, shutdowns, lockdowns. The cost of inaction is too great. However, beyond the current pandemic, Bill C-3 would put in place an enduring protection for workers in our country.

I will speak briefly to the amendments, both those made at HUMA and those made today in the House. No medical certificate would be required for five days or less of paid sick leave. Requiring a medical certificate for each day of paid sick leave taken would have been too much of a barrier to access. I heard that from the House and Senate committees undertaking this bill.

An Ipsos poll that was taken just before the pandemic shows that 82% of Canadians would rather go to work sick than obtain a medical certificate. Workers would earn 10 days of paid sick leave throughout the year, but would have three days after the first 30 days of continuous work. This is something we heard again at committee, both in the House and Senate, and we deemed it important to provide.

Finally, anyone experiencing the loss of an immediate family member can feel shock and grief in addition to having their well-being and effectiveness at work impacted. Bill C-3 now includes 10 days of leave for the loss of an immediate family member. The loss of a child is devastating. It is a devastation no one should know. There is an amendment to Bill C-3 to provide eight weeks of leave for parents who are confronted with this unspeakable tragedy. Our government took steps to ensure that when workers experienced such a tragic event, there would be supports now in place.

There is a lot more work to do. We must continue to move not only with speed, but with accuracy to implement this legislation. This has to be done right, but it has to be done quickly. The pandemic is relentless, but so are Canadians and the members of the House. We will engage urgently with stakeholders to do the necessary work to ensure workers in Canada have access to paid sick leave as soon as possible.

As has been the case with workers and their issues throughout Canada's history, no one has been as effective as, or shone a clearer light on the importance of this topic than, organized labour and Canada's unions. I want to specifically thank those groups, whether provincial labour federations, individual members of a local, or national union leaders, for the work they did to make this idea a reality.

I would also touch on the proposed Criminal Code offences and those amendments that would target intimidation and obstruction of health service workers. It was made clear that it is not an offence for people to attend or approach a health care facility simply to communicate information and to do so peacefully. We have all seen the necessity of those Criminal Code amendments.

I will close with two observations. One came very early on in my time as the labour minister when meeting with front-line workers. Someone asked that we stop calling them heroes and start treating them like human beings.

The other is a quote from Jim Stanford, the economist who wrote in The Globe and Mail earlier this month. He states:

It would be reckless and short-sighted to return to a pre-COVID “normal” that compelled sick workers to show up, regardless of the risk to others.

Today, members of the House said they unanimously agreed. The government and the House met the moment. This legislation will be a permanent support for workers and will help us fight, and finish the fight, against this pandemic.

I thank all the members of the House who supported this legislation and all those who have worked so hard to find a reasonable and honourable way forward. The message they have sent to Canadian workers and Canadians in general about how seriously we take the fight against the pandemic was written in their vote, which was unanimous.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

December 16th, 2021 / 3:25 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario


Mark Holland LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. opposition colleague for his comments. I absolutely join him in thanking everyone who works here.

It is an extraordinarily difficult thing, particularly during a pandemic, to provide the support we have seen. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Clerk of the House, Mr. Charles Robert, his wonderful team of clerks, every branch of service in the administration of the House of Commons, including the Parliamentary Protective Service, and the pages, who help us so much in our work, particularly during these challenging times.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to wish you and your family, and indeed all members, a very merry Christmas, happy holiday and happy new year. I hope that all members are able to spend time with their families and are both safe and healthy in these very challenging times.

I think we have demonstrated over the last four weeks, with my hon. counterparts from the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democrats, a wonderful spirit of co-operation. We have been able to get a lot done on behalf of Canadians. I want to thank them, and through them I thank their caucuses for a very productive last four weeks.

This afternoon, we will continue our work on Bill C-2, an act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, and Bill C-3, which would provide workers in federally regulated sectors with 10 days of paid sick leave and make it an offence to intimidate or prevent patients from seeking care.

I will advise that in February, the government will propose a take-note debate on Saskatchewan's proposed constitutional amendment. I would also like to table, in both official languages, an amendment to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code.

Finally, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, as amended, be deemed concurred in at the report stage, that the motion for third reading of the bill be deemed moved and seconded and that the House proceed immediately to a recorded division on the motion for third reading.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 15th, 2021 / 3:20 p.m.
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Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

December 14th, 2021 / 5 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Bobby Morrissey

Thank you, Mr. Jeneroux.

Shall clause 8 carry? It will be a recorded vote.

(Clause 8 agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the title carry? It will be a recorded vote.

(Title agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the bill as amended carry? It will be a recorded vote.

(Bill C-3 as amended agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0 )

Shall the chair report the bill as amended to the House? It will be a recorded vote.

(Reporting of bill to the House agreed to: yeas 11; nays 0)

Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the use of the House at report stage? It will be a recorded vote.

(Reprint of bill agreed to: yeas 11, nays 0)

Thank you, committee members. That concludes the clause-by-clause reading of Bill C-3 and the approval to proceed from here.

I want at this time to thank the committee members for their work, and especially the staff of committee members and the minister's staff. I know that a lot of work has gone into this. It was a tight timeline, and this committee achieved consideration and approval of the bill. Thank you very much.

Mr. Ruff?

December 14th, 2021 / 4:15 p.m.
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Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

I do.

I'll remember the consideration given to other members of this committee when they ask for some type of consideration.

Chair, thank you very much.

It is that Bill C-3, in clause 2, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 1 the following:

(2.1) Every person commits an offence who engages in any conduct with the intent to provoke a state of fear in a critical infrastructure worker in order to impede them in the performance of their duties.

By replacing line 2 on page 2 with the following:

tion, (1) or (2) or (2.1) is

By replacing line 7 on page 2 with the following:

(4) No person is guilty of an offence under subsection (2) or (2.1)

By adding, after line 13 on page 2, the following:

(6) In this section, critical infrastructure worker means a person who conducts or supports operations or services that are essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians including in relation to food supply, electricity grids, pipelines, communications and transportation.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

December 14th, 2021 / 4:05 p.m.
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The Chair (Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.)) Liberal Bobby Morrissey

Committee members, I will call the meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number three of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Today's meeting is in hybrid format. Today's meeting is to begin a clause-by-clause reading of Bill C-3.

I'll remind you that all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair. When you're speaking, please speak slowly and clearly.

As I indicated, Bill C-3 is an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code. Pursuant to the order of reference on Thursday, December 9, the committee will resume its consideration of Bill C-3.

Before we begin clause-by-clause consideration, there is a matter to discuss regarding the routine motions. Specifically, it is the routine motion governing orders of reference in the House respecting bills. Is it the will of the committee? That's notwithstanding the routine motion adopted by the committee for 48-hours notice. We dispensed with that routine motion for this meeting. The part dealing with 48-hour notice to file amendments at the start of clause-by-clause shall be waived.

I see agreement from the committee. Thank you, committee members.

(On clause 1)

We will begin with clause-by-clause, beginning with clause 1. Shall clause 1 carry?

Clause 1 is carried and we move on to clause 2.

December 14th, 2021 / 12:50 p.m.
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Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Dispute Resolution and International Affairs, Department of Employment and Social Development

Andrew Brown

Thank you for the question.

As the minister said, [technical difficulties] is indeed open to the idea of amending that aspect of Bill C‑3.

December 14th, 2021 / 12:45 p.m.
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Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

I have another question.

Bill C‑3 says—in subsection (1.4), I think—that we can accumulate days of leave. In other words, if someone has accumulated 10 days in their bank of leave and they are fortunate enough not to be sick, the bank of leave days can be carried forward to the next year and can be used in its entirety, as I understand it.

But does the counter go back to zero in terms of accumulating days of leave? I understand that you can't have more than 10 days. That's fine, it's a choice.

How can we make sure that people are not penalized in terms of accumulating days of leave in the following year if the 10 days per year in the previous year have not been used?

December 14th, 2021 / 12:05 p.m.
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Tony Van Bynen Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you.

I've had the opportunity to contact Arden Krystal, the president and CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre, in my riding. I asked her for her thoughts on Bill C-3. Ms. Krystal is, by and large, supportive of the legislation, particularly the changes to the Criminal Code related to intimidation and impeding access to services.

I am happy to see that we're collaborating on making this commitment we've made to Canadians a reality. Is it possible that there may be some confusion as to what the bill targets? Could you tell this committee what it doesn't target?

December 14th, 2021 / 12:05 p.m.
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Tony Van Bynen Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, thank you for taking the time again to join the committee and to answer our questions.

Bill C-3 is so important to strengthening Canada's safety net and ensuring that Canadians don't have to worry about staying home if they're sick or about being unable to pay their bills.

I also want to take this opportunity to quickly say thank you to the health care workers in my riding and across Canada who've been working day in and day out in an already overwhelming environment to keep us safe and to protect our health.

Since 2009, the government has created greater access to paid sick leave for Canadians. Could you walk us through a brief timeline of the work that the government has done since then?

December 14th, 2021 / 11:50 a.m.
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Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I'm pleased to address you on this important bill, Mr. Minister. I thought it was interesting to hear you talk about your sense of urgency to get it passed so that we can provide this sick leave capacity for federally regulated workers.

Right away, I must say that I wish that sense of urgency had been there 12, 18 or 24 months ago when the pandemic was hitting full force. I feel that would have protected people and perhaps prevented the spread of infection and the overcrowding in our health care system. It is not as if the NDP didn't ask for it, because our leader has asked for it 22 times in the past year. It finally happened. We have talked about it before in the House. I understand that you are looking forward, but I feel this has dragged on a little over the past 18 months.

In your response to a question from Ms. Kusie, you opened the door for workers to have a few sick days already available. What Bill C‑3 is currently proposing is one day off per month, but it offers no leave bank to begin with. So to get two or three days of sick leave, it could take two or three months or maybe a little more if the employee was hired in the middle of the month, for example.

I'd like to hear your comments on that. Health experts tell us that people very rarely take only one day off when they are sick with something like the flu. Instead, they take two, three or four days off. Would you be open to the idea of setting up a bank of leave, maybe not all 10 days at once, but a small bank, so that the bill would be more realistic given how long people get sick for?

December 14th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
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Sandra Hassan Deputy Minister of Labour, Department of Employment and Social Development

Thank you, Minister.

Thank you for the questions, Ms. Chabot.

You alluded to some of the provisions in Bill C‑3, namely the accumulation of leave at a rate of one day per month, the issue of continuous service and the fact that the bill provides that employees could take a half-day, but the employer could also ask them to take a full day. Those provisions are currently in the bill.

Yesterday, our minister showed some openness to considering amendments to the bill. He would be very interested in receiving suggestions for wording related to requests.