Evidence of meeting #187 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendments.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Katherine Scott  Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Gavin Charles  Policy Officer, Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Fraser Reilly-King  Research and Policy Manager, Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Hassan Yussuff  President, Canadian Labour Congress
Annick Desjardins  Executive Assistant, National President's Office, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Harriett McLachlan  Deputy Director, Canada Without Poverty
Leilani Farha  Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty
Anjum Sultana  Manager, Policy & Strategic Communications, YWCA Canada
Blake Richards  Banff—Airdrie, CPC
Vicky Smallman  Director, Women's & Human Rights, Canadian Labour Congress
Peter Fragiskatos  London North Centre, Lib.
James O'Hara  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana
Robert Louie  Chair of Advisory Board, First Nations Land Management Resource Centre
Grant Lynds  Past President, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada
Corinne McKay  Secretary-Treasurer, Nisga'a Nation, NVision Insight Group Inc.
Magali Picard  National Executive Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Matt Mehaffey  Senior Policy Advisor, Carcross/Tagish First Nation, NVision Insight Group Inc.
Helen Berry  Legal Officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada

3:45 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll come to order.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, November 6, 2018, we are studying Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.

My apologies that we're starting a little late. The Prime Minister, the leader of the official opposition, and the leader of the third party are making statements in the House on the Jewish refugees who were prevented from coming into Canada on the St. Louis. That's why we're short a few members, but we were worried about the time getting tight for you.

With that, welcome to all. Thank you for coming on very short notice, I know.

We'll start with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Katherine Scott.

Go ahead, Katherine.

3:45 p.m.

Katherine Scott Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to address you today on the budget implementation act. My name is Katherine Scott, and I'm a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives here in Ottawa.

Bill C-86 marks an important milestone for Canada with the introduction of part 1 of Canada's first poverty reduction act, followed quickly this week by Bill C-87 yesterday, as well as three other pieces of legislation enshrining the principle of gender equality and efforts to advance gender equality through policy and program.

These bills have been a long time coming. The call for proactive pay equity legislation reaches back decades. It's been a recommendation in the CCPA's alternative federal budget for many years. With this bill, federally regulated employers will be required to create proactive pay equity plans that will help to chip away at Canada's stubbornly high gender pay gap and to uphold women's right to equal pay for work of equal value.

The Canadian gender budgeting act will require governments of the day to assess and report on the impact of all new budget measures, including proposed revenue generation and program expenditures using a gender and diversity lens.

The new department for women and gender equality will ensure that the federal government is actively engaged in both supporting women's rights and gender equality through its own policy and research and providing much-needed support to government agencies and civil society organizations working in communities across the country.

These are foundational pieces for a more inclusive, a more just, and a more prosperous country. At a time when there is a mounting backlash against women's rights, these efforts are significant and important to ensure that, as the preamble to the proposed legislation for the new department attests, all have the opportunity equal with others “to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have”.

The provisions for gender-based budgeting are also essential in modernizing Canada's processes for policy and program development. Around the world, gender budgeting is recognized as key to generating the evidence necessary to inform policy and programs that successfully deliver on their stated goals and contribute to broader societal well-being. The new act provides a vehicle for strengthening accountability and transparency, both key characteristics of effective public policy.

It's one thing to know, for example, that a measure like the employee stock option costs Canadians $755 million a year in forgone revenue. It's another thing to know that 77% of those benefits are claimed by men. The partial exclusion of capital gains delivers 75% of its benefits to men at an enormous cost to the government of $6.6 billion. These policies effectively amplify existing gender disparity in the labour market. A gender analysis poses fundamental questions. Are these tax expenditures effective in achieving their stated goals? Are they just? Could Canadian tax dollars be better spent elsewhere?

The work of the new department and those charged with carrying out GBA+ analysis will require sufficient resources to ensure the positive impact of this work. This will include mechanisms for meaningful engagement with and support for women's rights and gender equality-seeking groups. We have recommended an annual budgetary target of $100 million for the new department in the alternative federal budget.

So too does the new pay equity act hinge on the resourcing available for the new commissioner for training, education, compliance and enforcement.

We fully endorse and support the recommendations of the pay equity coalition with respect to proposed reforms, enshrining existing human rights protections, and the call for a robust mechanism for pay transparency. Without these actions, the proposed pay equity model risks becoming a variant of “comply and explain”, an approach that's met with precious little success in encouraging gender parity on corporate boards.

The issue of resources is also fundamental to the potential success of the new poverty reduction act. The act outlines specific targets for reducing poverty as measured against an official poverty line, and establishes a framework and a process for reporting on progress to both houses of Parliament.

At the same time, the act does not include any new investment in the programs that are needed to achieve the strategy's goals. Indeed, Canada's new plan is really more of a framework than a strategy to accelerate poverty reduction. A strategy implies that we have a plan to get from where we are to where we want to go, and crucially, the resources to back it up. On this score, low-income Canadians are still waiting.

With urgent need across Canada, an effective poverty reduction plan requires more ambitious targets and timelines and greater investments in programs such as universal child care, national pharmacare, training and education for marginalized workers, and the like.

Finally, I would like to commend the government for the amendment to the Income Tax Act taking up recommendation 3 of the consultation panel on the political activities of charities. This is a very important amendment, and we hope that the forthcoming guidelines coming from CRA will uphold the letter and the spirit of the bill's proposed amendments.

Thank you again very much for your kind attention.

3:50 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Katherine.

We are now turning to the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. We have Mr. Reilly-King, research and policy manager, and Mr. Charles, policy officer.

I believe the floor is yours, Mr. Charles.

3:50 p.m.

Gavin Charles Policy Officer, Canadian Council for International Co-operation

Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee.

We are pleased to appear on behalf of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Canada's national coalition of civil society organizations working to end global poverty and to promote social justice and human dignity for all. Our 80-plus members include many of Canada's leading international development and humanitarian assistance organizations. More broadly, we represent a sector that includes over 2,000 organizations that employ 14,000 people and spend over $5 billion each year.

The 2018 budget implementation act, no. 2 will have important impacts on the work we and our members do to build a fairer, more sustainable and safer world. Today we will focus our remarks on two areas. The first is changes to the rules governing charitable activities and the Income Tax Act, and the second is changes to how Canada delivers and tracks its international assistance.

CCIC wholeheartedly welcomes the amendment of section 149.1 of the Income Tax Act to accept and acknowledge the public policy role of Canadian charities. As we indicated in our submission to the finance committee during the 2019 pre-budget consultations, Canada's competitive advantage includes ensuring that we have a strong non-profit sector. A precondition of this is a legislative and policy environment that is fully conducive to civil society organizations realizing their full potential. It is therefore good to see that the substance and language of the amendments in Bill C-86 reflect the recommendations of the independent consultation panel on the political activities of charities.

We support the continuation of a prohibition on partisan activity by registered charities. However, existing guidance is vague, and these amendments do not clarify, for instance, what exactly is meant by “public policy dialogue and development” or “indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate”.

We recommend that these terms defining partisan activity be clarified to ensure that charities can maximize their contribution to Canada's society and economy. We also recommend that these and any other further improvements to the legislation and regulations governing Canadian charities be developed in dialogue with Canadian charities. In this vein, it is worth noting that the amendments proposed in Bill C-86 result from the very public policy dialogue the Income Tax Act now limits.

CCIC and other civil society organizations are keen to keep working with the government and parliamentarians to develop a modern regulatory and legislative framework for Canada's non-profit and civil society sector.

My colleague, Fraser Reilly-King, will now turn to the delivery of and accountability for Canada's international assistance.

3:50 p.m.

Fraser Reilly-King Research and Policy Manager, Canadian Council for International Co-operation

Thank you also for inviting us to appear.

For the past ten years, since June 2008, Canada’s official development assistance, or ODA, has been governed by the ODA Accountability Act. This act ensures that Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance focuses on poverty reduction, considers the perspectives of poor people, and upholds human rights—and that it is, perhaps most importantly, accountable to Parliament and the public.

As written, Bill C-86 amends the ODA Accountability Act in two problematic ways.

First, it repeals the current definition of ODA under the act. The current definition is largely aligned with that of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the institution responsible for defining and monitoring ODA globally.

The OECD is currently considering potential changes to the global definition of ODA. Until this review is concluded, Canada should not change its domestic definition under the act. Doing so would prejudge the outcomes of this multilateral review and could put Canada out of line with its global peers.

Second, Bill C-86 would delay the release of a report required under the ODA Accountability Act. Currently, the act's report provides preliminary whole-of-government information six months after the end of a given fiscal year, and six months ahead of the final annual statistical report. The report provides access to provisional numbers on Canada’s ODA. It is an important and timely report for parliamentarians and the Canadian public. By delaying the release of this report by a further six months, there would be no official data on Canadian ODA until a year after the fact, and timing it with the release of the statistical report would make these numbers redundant.

We therefore recommend that the current definition of official development assistance and the current reporting schedule under the ODA Accountability Act be maintained.

Bill C-86 also introduces the International Financial Assistance Act, allowing the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the the Minister of International Development to offer sovereign loans.

We recommend that Bill C-86 be amended to indicate that only sovereign loans that are concessional, with a minimum grant element of 25%, and which aim to reduce poverty and support economic development, will be counted as ODA, as per the current definition under the ODA Accountability Act.

Finally, we want to comment briefly on three additional measures in Bill C-86.

We commend the creation of the department for women and gender equality and the gender budgeting act, which will enhance gender analysis in the policy process. This will ensure that Canada’s actions support implementation of sustainable development goal 5 on gender equality, both at home and abroad.

The poverty reduction act represents another important step toward aligning the global sustainable development agenda with Canada’s domestic action. However, here we urge the government to aim higher. Our goal in Canada and overseas should be to eradicate poverty, not merely reduce it.

With that, we'll close.

Thank you again for your attention.

I look forward to any questions.

3:55 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you both.

Now we have the Canadian Labour Congress: president, Mr. Yussuff; and Ms. Smallman, director, Women's & Human Rights. Welcome to you both.

3:55 p.m.

Hassan Yussuff President, Canadian Labour Congress

Thank you, Chair and committee members. Good afternoon.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. Of course, Bill C-86 contains many provisions that are important to working people. I welcome any questions you may have in any aspect of the bill. However, I will confine my opening remarks to pay equity provisions and the amendments to the federal labour standards, the pay equity bill.

We're glad to see the federal pay equity bill finally being tabled. Of course, working women have been calling for this legislation for decades. This historic legislation will hold employers accountable for proactively identifying and correcting systemic wage discrimination. It will put working women in the federal sector on a path towards equal pay for work of equal value.

We also want to commend the government upon repealing the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act brought forward by the previous government. We're pleased that the bill provides for pay equity committees to both develop and review pay equity plans. The bill also establishes a pay equity commissioner to administer and enforce the bill. We hope the commission and their team will have the resources and capacity required to implement the legislation effectively.

There are some parts of the bill that we need to change in order to reinforce pay equity as a human right and to ensure the process works to accomplish the goals of ending systemic wage discrimination.

First, the “Purpose” clause must be amended to remove the qualifying phrase “while taking into account the diverse needs of employers”. This language in this part of the bill undermines the intent of the bill, as well as the human rights of equal pay for work of equal value.

Second, language on voting in pay equity committees states that the decision of the employee groups must be unanimous or they will forfeit their right to vote. We suggest that a majority agreement is sufficient, as in the case of the Quebec legislation.

Finally, the language on maintenance provides for retroactivity when wage gaps have arisen in the interim between the posting of the original pay equity plan and the five-year review. However, it is retroactive to when the revised pay equity plan was posted, not to when the gap first occurs. A similar provision in the Quebec legislation was recently struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. The federal act should not replicate this unconstitutional language.

On federal labour standards, Bill C-86 makes a variety of changes to the federal labour standards. In our opinion, these changes are overdue and much needed. Since the comprehensive Arthurs commission report was published in 2006, the federal labour standards have lagged behind provincial improvements. Many improvements have failed to keep up with significant changes in work and the world of employment.

We're pleased that the victims of family violence will now be entitled to five paid days for domestic violence leave. We welcome the prohibition on pay discrimination on the basis of employment status. Equal treatment protections in the code will reinforce the new pay equity legislation. They will benefit low-income workers, women of colour and newcomers to Canada who are more likely to be employed in part-time, temporary, casual or seasonal work. Temporary agency workers will also be entitled to equal treatment.

We also welcome the onus on employers to prove that they are not misqualifying employees as self-employed workers or independent contractors. These changes help bring the federal labour standards into the 21st century.

I do want to say that Canada's unions are not satisfied with the provision to end contract flipping at airports and federal workplaces. Bill C-86 provides some protection for non-unionized workers in contract retendering; however, we feel the government missed the chance to stop employers from terminating bargaining rights and cutting the wages and benefits of unionized workers by flipping contracts. We urge the government to take steps to ensure that all workers are treated fairly in such a situation.

I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to present here today. We'll take any questions you may have in regard to my presentation.

4 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Mr. Yussuff.

From the Canadian Union of Public Employees, we have Ms. Desjardins, executive assistant, national president's office.

Welcome, Annick.

4 p.m.

Annick Desjardins Executive Assistant, National President's Office, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Good afternoon.

I will be speaking in French.

Thank you for inviting me to appear to speak to you on behalf of the 665,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Of course we welcome Canada’s pay equity legislation, which we hope will have a significant impact on 23,000 to 25,000 of our members who work in federally regulated industries. These members work mainly in the private sector, such as airlines, telecommunications, ground transportation and ports. We also represent civilian employees at the RCMP.

At CUPE, we have four decades of experience with various pay equity regulatory regimes, and we believe that the federal government should be setting a high standard for the provinces to emulate.

Let me also mention that CUPE has successfully challenged the constitutionality of certain provisions of pay equity legislation, particularly in Quebec. I was the lawyer representing CUPE in the class action Mr. Yussuff talked about and which lead to a Supreme Court judgment in May. As a result, if you have any questions about this, I would be pleased to answer them.

We completely agree with the remarks of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and I will move to page 2 of my notes right away, so that there's no repetition.

From the outset, we have noticed a major shortcoming in the bill with respect to its compliance with constitutional obligations. It lacks an overall standard of non-discrimination applied to all of the elements of pay equity plans and their application. It will be very simple to implement it. Section 2 will just have to be amended by adding a few words to make permanent the obligation to ensure that no element of the pay equity plan shall discriminate on the basis of gender. In our written brief, we will recommend the wording to this effect.

Once again, we agree with the CLC's comments on the functioning of committees and the unanimity in the employee vote. From our experience, we can tell you about the challenge with that. All it would take is for one employer to convince a single member of the pay equity committee—such as a bargaining agent representing a predominantly male group—to adopt the position of the employer to stifle the voice of the women around the table. That's just one example. However, when there are multiple bargaining agents on a committee, it is essentially unrealistic to believe that decisions will be unanimous. So there needs to be a majority, not unanimous, vote.

I will now turn to the compensation comparison methods described in section 50 of the legislation. We can tell you right away that the method set out in the bill—the equal line method—will be inapplicable in most cases. We cannot understand in the slightest why the bill has not kept the comparison method recommended in the 2004 final report of the pay equity task force, generally known as the Bilson report. Our written brief will elaborate on this shortcoming, but it's important that you are now aware that it's quite a major problem.

As the CLC mentioned, the bill lacks clarity with respect to retroactive pay adjustments in the maintenance phase. It provides no guarantees, which may well affect its constitutionality. I hope that you have taken note of this.

Finally, the pay equity legislation being proposed would give the pay equity commissioner a significant degree of responsibility. So that the legislation is not a burden for businesses, the commissioner will need to have the resources necessary to support them, but also to quickly and effectively resolve workplace disputes. So the Human Rights Commission will need to receive a whole host of additional resources so that everything works out for everyone.

The dispute resolution mechanisms found in part 8 should not distinguish between the remedies provided to employees and those provided to bargaining agents. Bargaining agents—and unions, of course—must be able to exercise all the rights of their members on their behalf. The possibility of being represented by an association to exercise one's rights is part of the freedom of association, and this must be provided for in the act. Furthermore, the legislator recognizes that there may be reprisals after a complaint is filed, but is taking away the main buffer against those reprisals, the protection of the union. So please review the remedies provided for in part 8.

My final comment for today is on clause 451 of the bill, which amends the Canada Labour Code, relating to equal treatment by adding sections 182.1 to 182.4. I invite you to read the written brief that will be submitted by Friday, in which we recommend, among other things, that the interpretation—made by regulation—of employment status be supplemented with protection against discrimination on the basis of the date of hiring.

That concludes my remarks. Thank you very much. I am ready to answer any questions you may have.

4:05 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much.

From Canada Without Poverty, we have Ms. Farha, executive director; and Ms. McLachlan, deputy director. Welcome to you both.

4:05 p.m.

Harriett McLachlan Deputy Director, Canada Without Poverty

Thank you.

Good afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity to address this committee.

My name is Harriett McLachlan. I'm deputy director of Canada Without Poverty, and I'm joined today by Canada Without Poverty's executive director Leilani Farha, who is also the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

CWP is a non-partisan, not-for-profit and charitable organization dedicated to ending poverty in Canada. For nearly 50 years, Canada Without Poverty has been championing the human rights of individuals experiencing poverty, and since our existence, the board of directors has been made up entirely of people with a lived experience of poverty.

This committee should know that although I'm an educated professional, I lived for almost 35 years in poverty, 19 years as a single parent.

Canada Without Poverty has long called for a national anti-poverty strategy to be secured in legislation. As members of this committee may be aware, United Nations authorities—for example, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights—have urged Canada to secure in legislation its efforts towards the rights to an adequate standard of living, housing, and food.

We support the entrenchment of the Opportunity for All strategy within Bill C-86 as critical to the fulfillment of Canada's international human rights obligations.

While the strategy and legislation reference the sustainable development goals, the target and timeline invoke the minimum threshold of a reduction in poverty by 50% by 2030. The reality is that when we only commit to reducing poverty, we create opportunity for some and not opportunity for all, especially those who are the most marginalized.

For a country as wealthy as Canada, which should be leading other countries in the implementation of the SDGs, we are disappointed that the legislation does not commit to the spirit of SDG 1, which is to end poverty.

I'll pass it over to Leilani.

4:10 p.m.

Leilani Farha Executive Director, Canada Without Poverty

Thank you, Harriet, and thank you, Chair.

Good afternoon.

My comments are going to focus on part 1 of Bill C-86, particularly the provisions related to political activities and purposes of charities at section 17 of the bill.

Let me begin by saying CWP is pleased to say to the committee that we support the proposed amendments. We do so for the following three reasons.

First, and perhaps most obviously, these provisions actually strengthen our democracy. They ensure robust public debate and discussion and that the voices and lived experiences and experiences of persons living in poverty can be heard in the public domain.

Second, and as Katherine Scott has already said, the amendments support recommendation 3 of the consultative panel that deliberated on these issues. I'd add to this that the amendments also are consistent with the Ontario Superior Court's ruling in the case that my organization brought on the very issue of restrictions on political activities of charities.

For those of you who've read it, you'll know, and for those of you who don't, I'll tell you, that Justice Morgan in that case ruled that restrictions on non-partisan political activities curtail CWP's ability to engage with our members and the public in pursuing our charitable purpose of relieving poverty, and that unlike old models of almshouses and soup kitchens, CWP's work to relieve poverty by sharing ideas, achieving attitudinal changes, and engaging in public policy dialogue to identify the causes of poverty and the necessary changes to laws and policies to relieve poverty are necessary for the achievement of our purpose, which is charitable.

He determined in fact that subsection 149.1(6.2) of the Income Tax Act “violates s. 2(b) of the Charter”—that's the free expression article in the charter—and that such a provision was not reasonably justified and that the provision is of no force and effect, and that henceforth charitable activities must be understood to include non-partisan political activities in furtherance of a charitable purpose. That's exactly what the proposed act is saying as well, and is consistent with.

The third reason we support the amendments is that like Justice Morgan's decision, they do not in any way allow groups that do not have an accepted charitable purpose to claim charitable status for political activities; rather, the changes simply recognize that freedom of expression and participation in public policy dialogue are critical components of the effective pursuit of accepted charitable purposes, such as the relief of poverty.

Before I close, I just want to note something for the committee. The government has not yet indicated an intent to withdraw its appeal in the decision of Canada Without Poverty v. Canada and has not recognized yet publicly that the sections of the act are in fact a charter violation. In fact, the government has chosen to frame the issue as one that's simply a matter of policy.

For our sector, it is critical that the sections of the Income Tax Act that are being amended remain recognized as a violation of the charter. Otherwise similar measures could be implemented on a political whim by future governments, leaving the sector exactly where it was prior to the suggested amendments in Bill C-86. We ask, therefore, and in closing, that the government withdraw its appeal in this case.

Thank you, and we're happy to take any questions.

4:15 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you both.

We turn, then, to the YWCA, and Ms. Sultana, manager, policy and strategic communications.

4:15 p.m.

Anjum Sultana Manager, Policy & Strategic Communications, YWCA Canada

Thank you.

Good afternoon, fellow members of the panel and honourable members of the Standing Committee on Finance. We thank you for the invitation to appear here before you today.

Once again, my name is Anjum Sultana, and I am the manager of policy and strategic communications at the YWCA Canada. We are the nation's oldest and largest women-serving organization. For nearly 150 years we have been working with women and girls and their families at critical turning points in their lives and providing them with the necessary services and resources to thrive and succeed.

Last week on November 1, over 100 members of the YWCA Canada were here on Parliament Hill and met with over 65 members of your fellow parliamentarians. We advocated for women's economic security. Today we will comment on the contents of Bill C-86. We are encouraged by many of the developments that have occurred in this particular bill, because we see that there is an opportunity to advance women's economic security here in the country.

What we also wanted to share was that we currently work in nine provinces and two territories, and we work with over 330,000 women and girls every year. We're anticipating that by 2020, our 150-year anniversary, we will be working also in our tenth province, which is Prince Edward Island.

What we want to do today is talk about three particular divisions of part 4 of Bill C-86, in particular division 9 of part 4, which pertains to the Canadian gender budgeting act to promote gender equality and inclusiveness by taking gender and diversity into consideration in the budget process. We would encourage, as others have testified to this committee before, that to follow this landmark legislation, it would be critical to ensure that as future standing committees on finance consider pre-budget consultations, there be a target of gender parity. Specifically, others have testified before this committee to the importance of ensuring that at least 15% of future witnesses to this committee be from feminist and women-serving organizations.

The Canadian gender budgeting act marks an important milestone that can be further enhanced by ensuring that at least 15% of the witnesses to this committee come from feminist and women-serving organizations to truly ensure that women's voices are heard in the budget-making process as well as future decision-making processes.

We're also pleased to see inclusion in this bill of division 14 of part 4, which enacts the pay equity act, a call that women-serving organizations have been pushing for for many years, including colleagues from the Equal Pay Coalition, Janet Borowy and Fay Faraday, who appeared before this committee earlier for its consideration of Bill C-86. We fully support their recommendations, and in our brief to this committee we will delineate the specific recommendations, but we fully recommend their calls.

One that we want to draw your attention to is the specific point around the “Purpose” clause, clause 2, which has current language around ensuring that “the diverse needs of employers” are kept in mind. We would encourage that this be deleted, because what we have seen is that this undermines women's experiences in the labour workforce and also undermines the act's purpose and intent of addressing systemic gender bias and discrimination.

We were also pleased to see that in part 4 of this bill, division 18 was the piece of legislation to enact the department for women and gender equality. We were pleased to see that there were many other considerations of diverse social locations and diversities that were embedded in this particular piece of Bill C-86.

We would encourage that there be further inclusion of another identity, which is citizenship. We saw that there was indication that there was an understanding that the diverse experiences of women that are complicated by different aspects of social location such as age, ethnic origin and sexual orientation were considered. We would also encourage that citizenship be another addition to that list. This is consistent with other provincial human rights codes such as Ontario's, which includes citizenship.

Finally, we wholeheartedly agree and support the recommendations of our colleagues at the Canadian Labour Congress with respect to recommendations around leave. We see this in the over 330,000 women we serve every year, many of whom are from working class backgrounds and experience challenges in accessing their entitlement. We would encourage that these recommendations put forward by the Canadian Labour Congress also be considered.

I'd like to thank you again for your attention. We look forward to any questions that you might have.

Thank you.

4:20 p.m.


The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you very much, Ms. Sultana.

We'll go to five-minute rounds because of the time frame.

Go ahead, Mr. Fergus.

4:20 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

First, Ms. Scott, I would like to extend our condolences on the passing of Kate McInturff, who was a member of your organization. Ms. McInturff appeared before the committee on a number of occasions.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Katherine Scott

Thank you so much.

4:20 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

She truly and fully represented your organization and the issues she was advocating. It is really a significant loss. I am sure that all the members of the Standing Committee on Finance were affected by her death. We therefore offer our condolences.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

4:20 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Could you tell us a little bit about your analysis of the part on pay equity and its provisions? You mentioned that this was a good start, but that there were some corrections to be made. So let me give you a chance to briefly comment on that.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Katherine Scott

Just as a question, when you say the gender equity part, which bill do you mean, the department or the budgeting provisions?

4:20 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

I mean the budgeting provisions.

4:20 p.m.

Senior Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Katherine Scott

The gender equality budgeting provisions in the act are fairly broadly scoped out. We certainly believe that the preamble is expansive. It directs the Department of Finance and other agencies to conduct a gender-based analysis on all new budgetary measures, as well as tax expenditures. It's a broad set of directions that will hinge on the level of resourcing that's available to Status of Women or the new WAGE Canada, which I guess is the new acronym, to deliver those resources.

The department has taken tremendous steps already with investments that this government has made in Status of Women over two budget cycles. We're encouraged to further invest in the capacity of Status of Women to achieve those goals and to support other agencies.

Much of this work provides not only assistance with analysis but also investment in the generation of data. Important investments have been made already with Statistics Canada. We need to continue to focus on that, but also to facilitate the meaningful participation of women's rights organizations and that range of groups in the budgeting process.

Actually, this is a tremendous opportunity for the government, as I said, to up its game in policy development, to bring this type of analysis to bear and to really understand the implications and impact of budgetary decisions. I think it's a tremendous opportunity to also engage civil society and increase economic literacy, to generate that kind of engagement and to ensure we have policies that are effective and that deliver the intended impact.

We certainly commend the government and we are happy and anxious to work to ensure these provisions achieve their full impact.

4:25 p.m.


Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Very well.

My second question is for Ms. Desjardins.

Ms. Desjardins, you stated that your union has been working to establish pay equity for a long time. Much like Ms. Scott, you said that what we have started was a step in the right direction. However, you noted that some provisions should be amended.

In your opinion, is the fact that this was included in the budget a major step that the private sector or other sectors of our economy should also take?

4:25 p.m.

Executive Assistant, National President's Office, Canadian Union of Public Employees

Annick Desjardins

We have been waiting for proactive federal legislation for a long time.

There are proactive laws in some provinces and they work relatively well, except in some problematic cases, which we have had to take to court.

We have known for decades that the pay equity dispute resolution mechanism before the courts does not work for employers or employees. Clearly, proactive legislation was needed. As we say, it was long overdue.

Overall, this piece of legislation is a step in the right direction, but there are still many grey areas in its design. It gives employers loopholes and it will ensure that we will end up in court again.

This is what we want to avoid by adopting proactive legislation. We want to avoid costly litigation for all parties. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation presents this possibility because not all the shortcomings have been adequately addressed. It was poorly put together. It therefore leaves too much discretion or loopholes for employers.

There are also grey areas because a number of items still have to be specified in the regulations. If the regulations are well designed, that's great, but right now, it's difficult to express an opinion on future regulations.

The regulatory process should involve all partners. We will have to be consulted and the government will have to hear our views as experts, because we truly are experts in this field.