Evidence of meeting #54 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was discussion.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Philippe Méla  Legislative Clerk

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Thanks, Bob.

We met with the proponent of the bill. Again, to allow maximum flexibility moving forward, this is what the mover of the bill wanted, so I'm respecting his wishes. That's why I'm moving that we strike clause 6.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

I just want to interject also and allow the clerk to provide some clarity on this as well.

Noon

The Clerk

If you recall, the Speaker ruled on the bill and indicated that those parts of the bill needed a royal recommendation and the bill would not be able to proceed to the third reading, if those parts were in the bill, as they were at the time. That is the reason they need to be taken out.

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Just for clarity of those in the room, and respectful of the Speaker, what that talks about removing is where:

job functions may pose a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child and whose employer is unable to modify her job functions or reassign her to another job for each week of unemployment in the period

(a) that begins the earlier of

(i) 15 weeks before the week in which her confinement is expected, and

(ii) the week in which her confinement occurs;

To me, this is integral to the bill. I just wonder if everybody knows that this is being pulled out. It's one thing to hear the Speaker's ruling, but it's fairly significant in terms of what the bill is saying or what it's not going to say following this.

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Mr. Chair, I'm just looking for clarity from Bob.

When you say “'everybody”, who do you mean? You say that you want to make sure everybody knows it's being pulled out.

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

That's not relevant to what I'm speaking about. I'm actually talking about the amendment.

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

I'm just looking for clarity as to what you meant.

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Yes, that's what I'm referring to, that everybody understands what's being withdrawn here.

Noon

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Who's everybody?

Noon

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

If you need that clarity, Wayne, it's everybody in this room, or maybe everybody out in Canada who has been following this bill.

I just want to make that point. Thank you.

Noon

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

I respect that I have not been here for the entire reading of this bill. However, if you don't mind, on the royal recommendation, from my understanding this was just taking the block of time during which someone would receive maternity benefits and putting it at the beginning of the pregnancy rather than at the end when the child is actually born.

Is there a difference? When we're looking at this royal recommendation, that's one of my questions. The benefit period is already defined as 52 weeks or 50 weeks of payable, and all you're doing is moving it down the ladder of where it goes. At the end of the day, it's still going to be the same amount of money. I recognize from the budget that there's a bit of difference. In the budget we have to recognize that sometimes if we're looking at the parental leave, there's going to be a little difference.

Specifically with this bill itself, can someone explain that to me? If a person is going to be off 15 weeks, 12 weeks, or eight weeks, they're going to lose those weeks after the birth of the child. Where is this impact on royal recommendation actually found? I'm very concerned about the clarity of that royal recommendation. They're not receiving more benefits. They'd be receiving the same amount of benefits. It's just going to be on or before the birth of the child.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Pierre.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

I have a quick question for the clerk. Who can grant royal recommendation?

12:05 p.m.

Legislative Clerk

Philippe Méla

A minister can.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

Great, and the minister supports the bill, so we have a royal recommendation granted. That should solve the problem.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

The minister voted against.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

No, but I mean the members say that they now support the principle of the bill, and the government is going to....

Presumably we're going to be passing the bill out of the room and into Parliament. With that in mind, the government will be supporting the bill and we have a royal recommendation.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Maybe if we could go back and actually clarify this—

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

I don't presume to speak for the minister.

Please, the clerk would like to clarify.

12:05 p.m.

The Clerk

The way the royal recommendation works is that there are two parts to it. There is the money issue. Generally speaking, when you increase the amount of money that comes out of the consolidated revenue fund, usually it would require a royal recommendation. The other criterion is the terms and conditions of the royal recommendation.

To give you the example of the one that we have in front of us right now, the Employment Insurance Act probably had a royal recommendation attached to it when it was passed. The terms and conditions of the royal recommendation were the way the employment benefits were distributed—that is, eight weeks before the birth of the child and seven weeks after. Those are the terms and conditions.

As soon as you touch the terms and conditions, you need a new royal recommendation to move those weeks basically backwards or forwards, depending on which way you want to move them. That's the reason.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

I appreciate that. Basically, we are accepting the first point, because the money is going to remain the same. It's that we're not going to accept those....

The first point is very obvious. It's going to be the same amount of dollars at the end of the day, whether it's before or after. The amendment does not support the change of making it eight weeks versus seven weeks. That's what I understand, if we're looking at parts one and two. The support there is not to extend the eight to 12 weeks on the pre-birth of the child.

I have it. Basically, the idea of this bill is not being supported by removing this clause.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Is there any further discussion?

Pierre.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

The point I was making earlier is that, if the minister supported the concept in the bill, it doesn't matter if it needs a royal recommendation because the minister can grant that recommendation. What the government is really saying here is that they just don't support it. That's really the beginning and the end because the House of Commons could pass a budget through a private member's bill if the government agreed to it and provided a royal recommendation.

A private member's bill could pass almost anything as long as the government decided to grant a royal recommendation. When governments don't support the private member's bill in question, they don't grant that recommendation. So let's come down to the issue and not say this procedural rule from 600 years ago is getting in our way. At the end of the day, if the minister wanted this passed, this would be passed.

May 2nd, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Is there any further discussion?

Bob.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

With all that discussion, I would ask the question back. Is that amendment still sought from your side, from the government side?