In Quebec, this does not concern employment; we want to know whether the worker is exposed to a risk, if there is a danger to her pregnancy or to her unborn child. There are no questions asked, she is withdrawn from her position, assigned to other duties, and if not she is paid by the commission.
I want to point out one important thing. All of the Quebec employers pay a contribution for all of their employees, women or men. Certain employers agree to assign the worker to another position, a less well-paid position. In that case, the worker is entitled to the same salary. Otherwise she would incur a loss. The employer is reimbursed for the additional cost. There is also an incentive there for the employer and the program provides for that.
If an employer has to pay $10,000, for instance, because a worker changes positions, he is reimbursed by the system.
Earlier, Ms. Cherry said that this was an expensive system. Everything is relative. I'll give you some figures. In Quebec, the preventive withdrawal program costs 0.2% of payroll. If you look at the employment insurance figures, it seems to me—because we do not have the same rates in Quebec—that it costs 3.9% in Canada. So these are not excessive costs, and the more employers agree to reassign their pregnant workers, the less they will be.
A reassigned worker does not cost very much. Either she will have the same salary, and so the reassignment will cost nothing, or there will be a salary difference, and all employers pay for the costs of the employer who agrees to reassign a worker. These are important points; the worker must not be penalized. If her salary is reduced, she will also be penalized with regard to her employment insurance benefits later. It is important that there not be a penalty.
You referred to the European systems. In France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany, the systems are comparable to the one in Quebec. The first thing they attempt to do is to keep the worker on the job, to correct the situation and remove the risks. She must not incur a loss nor lose future advantages. Integrating that into an employment insurance system at this time is a problem.
We are talking about 15 weeks currently. Suppose that period were extended.