This comes to back to the discussion we just had with Ms. Ambler on employment equity. The budget indeed proposes to eliminate in practice the contractual obligation. This obligation targets private companies under provincial jurisdiction that have more than 100 employees and that have a contract with the federal government worth more than $200,000. They have to meet all the requirements in the Employment Equity Act. This requirement affects 1 million workers. It is very important.
It is thanks to this requirement, among other things, that there has been progress over the years. This has allowed women to access non-traditional jobs. Under federal legislation, companies have to adopt this initiative in order to get a federal government contract. Concretely, that means that the employer has to conduct a workforce survey. It has to assess and analyze its hiring practices and determine whether there are any barriers. It is not enough just to hire women. The work environment has to be welcoming to them. For example, sexual harassment at work has to be prohibited. There has to be flexible policies to reconcile work and family obligations, child care services at the workplace, and good maternity and parental leave policies and so forth.
It is not enough just to hire women. The culture at the workplace has to change in order to retain women and allow them to truly feel accepted and welcome.
The budget implementation bill is a step backwards. It includes a clause that practically eliminates the requirement for entrepreneurs to respect employment equity. This is unfortunate because it will truly compromise the progress that has been made and might turn back the clock on employment equity.