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House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-64.

Topics

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 78, the recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

We will now turn to Group No. 4, Motion No. 7.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

moved:

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-64, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing lines 14 to 27, on page 10, with the following: b ) the preparation of the employer's employment equity plan.

(2) Where the employees are represented by a bargaining agent, the bargaining agent shall participate in a consultation under subsection (1).

(3) A consultation under subsection (1) is not a form of co-management.

(4) The employer and its employees' representatives must implement and revise the employment equity plan jointly."

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to say that this is one of the best motions you will see during your career, and I am rather confident at this point that even the government will support it.

We spent a lot of time reviewing Bill C-64, which was referred to our committee at second reading. This motion essentially provides that employment equity must be based on a joint effort, so as to ensure that it is effective and that the prescribed objectives will be reflected in the workplace.

Any organization that has been successful in promoting employment equity has managed to do so because the employer's and the employees' representatives got together and agreed on certain objectives.

This amendment seeks to ensure that employees' representatives can participate in the preparation and implementation of the employment equity plan. As you know, the Bloc Quebecois is very much in favour of employment equity.

The problem that we found when we reviewed this bill, and the parliamentary secretary should pay attention since his support would be helpful, is that there is no clear provision to ensure that workers will be involved in the implementation of the plan.

The bill only includes a rather vague provision on the implementation of employment equity plans, and the parliamentary secretary cannot pretend to ignore the fact that the clause did not receive much support.

Indeed, the parliamentary secretary surely remembers that, when union officials appeared before the committee, they expressed a great deal of concern about clauses 14 and 15 dealing with the consultation process. Clause 15 refers to a consultation, but it does so in general terms; there is no mandatory or compulsory process.

It is very important to understand the purpose of the amendment, and I think the Reform Party will agree that an employment equity policy is not feasible without the consent of all parties within a company.

That is definitely the purpose of this amendment. Companies and workers even came to see us to compare notes. They told us that in the Canada Labour Code, a provision required the policy on sexual harassment to be posted. What kind of action or measures should be part of an employer's policy against sexual harassment? A number of unions came to see us and said that ideally, to promote employment equity each employee should receive the employment equity plan. The plan would be available in the company and be posted in public rooms and areas.

We can never stress enough the importance of consultation and consensus in achieving this goal. We were and still are afraid that if we as parliamentarians, if the House of Commons does not adopt this amendment, the bill will again suffer a degree of imbalance and there would be a definite bias towards the employer and a tendency to be less forthcoming to the representatives of the workers.

I may recall that this bill will make the Canadian Human Rights Commission responsible for monitoring employment equity. In case of violations of this legislation, the commission may establish an employment equity review tribunal.

This is a major innovation. Unfortunately, the tribunal will not include labour representatives. What also bothers us in this bill is that because there will be an employment equity review tribunal consisting of three people, there will be no right of appeal. This is quite a decision, and I see Mr. Speaker, that you share my reservations and that is your social conscience speaking out.

My point is that there are few instances under our justice system when there is no right of appeal. In most cases, whether we are talking about criminal law or an administrative tribunal, it is a foregone conclusion, and the hon. member for Lotbinière is aware of this, that the person who appears before a tribunal always has the possibility of launching an appeal.

In this case, there is a clear imbalance which the amendments of the Bloc Quebecois are meant to correct, and I am confident that the government majority will support this view. As for the Reform Party, knowing what they are like, I never felt very confident about their support.

It would be very interesting at this time, for continuation of the debate, if the parliamentary secretary would rise and agree with me that the bill would be improved by acceptance of the Bloc Quebecois amendments, which I would remind you would ensure that negotiating agents, if present in a company, would be involved in more than just the drafting process, through the employer's possibility of consulting them. These consultations however are often optional rather than mandatory.

With our amendments, there would be an obligation not only to consult the workers' representatives, the negotiating agents, but also to involve them in the implementation process. Consultation is equally important during implementation, when an employment equity plan has been agreed upon, as it often has to be lived with for two, three or four years. There may be staff turnover, but the basic objectives remain.

We on this side of the House are of the belief that the way to meet the objectives and to ensure that the plan is what both management and labour want is to require the employer's representative, who may make his views known in a tribunal specifically designed for that purpose, to remedy any existing imbalance, and to ensure not only that workers and their representatives are consulted on an optional basis, but rather that their participation in the implementation process is mandatory.

As you know, the implementation process is, in concrete terms, the way the objectives will be met after concrete agreement on an employment equity program is reached. This is something no legislator can put into the wording of a statute, because it is part of the internal dynamics of a company. It is a bit like a marriage contract. You may well say: "Who does he think he is, talking of marriage?"

But you would be wrong in that, Mr. Speaker, because I have many examples around me of what marriage is, and I know that marriage is a matter of trust. It is a matter of an undertaking

between two individuals, whether of the same sex or of opposite sexes, who have chosen to forge a link of trust. For employment equity to be a viable entity, for it to be realistic, there must be trust and understanding involving all parties concerned. And by all parties concerned I mean of course the negotiating agents, if present in the company, and the representatives of the employer.

I would be extremely disappointed-having invested a great deal of energy, working hard on the committee, as the government is well aware, the parliamentary secretary as well-extremely disappointed if ever these amendments were struck down. I must admit that my confidence in this government would be seriously compromised in future if that happened.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Mac Harb LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to express our reservations concerning the amendment presented by my colleague. Like my colleagues I do, however, appreciate what my colleague and his party, the Bloc Quebecois, are attempting to do with a view to improving Bill C-64.

Examining the motion, I find it goes a bit too far. Its intentions are probably honourable, but if we look at it in detail, the amendment is not practical. What is being proposed in this amendment is to create a prerequisite that both groups, employers and employees, establish equity plans.

This proposed change to the legislation would create a requirement for employer and employee representatives to implement and revise employment equity plans jointly.

I can appreciate that my colleagues believe it is essential to have labour input for the planning and application of employment equity in the workplace. I assure them that within the existing legislation provisions have been made to ensure there will be consultation and collaboration between the parties in the preparation, implementation and revisions of companies' employment equity plans.

The bill was amended by the standing committee as a result of input from the Bloc Quebecois. It was the previous speaker who encouraged the committee to include this provision.

Clause 15 of Bill C-64 acknowledges that collaboration between management and labour is necessary if changes sought by employment equity are to come about. It signals that success in achieving an employment equity workforce requires the active collaboration of labour and employers to eliminate artificial barriers to members of the designated groups. However, we must not confuse representation with responsibility. Collaboration is not co-management for very good reasons.

If implemented this amendment could seriously compromise the prerogatives of management to implement employment equity at the work site as it sees fit.

The employer must have the final say over the way employment equity affects the workplace because it is ultimately the employer who is legally responsible for the act's implementation. Only management is accountable for meeting the obligations set out in this legislation. It would be patently unfair to impose that responsibility on management if it was forced to share all decision making with its employee representatives.

There are several other good reasons why this motion must be defeated. Among them is the fact that the proposed amendment would only preserve the co-management limitations for the initial preparation of an employment equity plan. This provision would be removed for the implementation and revision phases of the employment equity plans. Further and perhaps of greatest consequence, the amendment could lead to a requirement for negotiation between labour and management rather than a consultation.

I can assure the House that we are not prepared to see employment equity used as a bargaining chip in contract talks and negotiations. A bargaining agent might refuse to co-operate, perhaps motivated by reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the goals of employment equity and thereby bring the implementation of a workplace plan to a halt. We will not have this critical piece of legislation compromised by the vagaries of union-management talks in negotiations.

Another important consideration is that employment equity is an integral part of human resources management. Company after company testified before the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons and told us what an important tool employment equity has become in their overall business plans.

The sort of regime proposed by the Bloc Quebecois might provide unions with an opportunity to exercise direct influence in areas that remain the sole prerogatives of management, such as recruitment.

I have several other fundamental problems with this motion, which is obviously very flawed. Let us look at the reality that the collaboration requirement cannot be the subject of a direction by the human rights commission or an order by a tribunal. Clearly a true spirit of co-operation has to come about spontaneously. It cannot be forced or coerced.

Aside from that, there is the fact that the primary reason the government decided against making this collaboration the subject of a direction or order is that there is no provision in the act for a tribunal to make orders against a bargaining agent. Collaboration requires two parties working together. It would be discriminatory

to enforce this provision against only one of those parties, that is, the employer. It is worth noting that the proposed amendment will also reduce the consultation requirement that exists in Bill C-64.

In the amendment there no longer has to be consultation about the implementation or revision of an employment equity plan. That consultation requirement can be the subject of a direction by the commission or an order by a tribunal. I must say I find it surprising that the Bloc would recommend deleting these crucial provisions and replacing them with weaker provisions that cannot be the subject of a direction or order.

For these reasons, it simply does not make sense to seriously entertain this motion. The government is satisfied with the clause the way it now stands as amended in committee.

Again I want to thank the Bloc for its contribution in committee in this regard. I believe our willingness to accommodate the Bloc's concerns is testament to the goodwill we see in this House. But we must not be tempted by good intentions to push the process too far. To go further is inadvisable.

Our approach to this issue is not arbitrary nor is our amendment despotic. It is simply realistic. Management has the final responsibility for all employer obligations under the bill and will be answerable to the Canadian Human Rights Commission if the obligations are not met. Therefore final decision making must continue to belong to management.

I trust that this explanation satisfies the House that this motion must be rejected. I urge my colleagues to do precisely that.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I am rising to speak in support of my colleague's motion.

Members present all know that this legislation is going to go through come hell or high water, so the very least we can try to do is make it better. This motion by my hon. colleague does make it better. It ensures that the workers, the people who are intimately involved in this, have a say in what goes on.

As long as we are going to have this employment equity or affirmative action, the very least we can do is try to make sure it is going to work. The motion put forward by my colleague from the Bloc will go a long way in helping to ensure that it does work. Therefore, I rise to make the point that we are in support of this motion.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can hardly stay on my feet after that. It is phenomenal.

The hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has made a great contribution to this legislation at committee. Although I am not a permanent member of that committee, I do have some interest in this particular legislation and sat in on that committee a couple of times and was very encouraged by his participation.

I do have some reservations about this motion, but not because I am not sympathetic to union-sided labour requests. In fact I am very sympathetic to their concerns. However, it seems to me that this section is not necessary in order to get co-operation between management and trade unions or employee unions in this context. Any employment equity plan could and should and indeed probably will be the subject of a collective agreement.

The problem I have with this is in legislating union involvement as opposed to leaving the balance between management and unions the way it is so that management retains the prerogative in terms of recruitment.

It seems to me that clause 15, which the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve had a hand in establishing at committee, sets out the necessary collaboration between management and labour. However, the problem is that ultimately, because management has the prerogative to hire, only management can have the responsibility under the scheme of this act.

I would be afraid that if we create a scheme where management and union are both responsible, then effectively we undermine our ability to enforce employment equity through management. We cannot simultaneously undermine management and promote a scheme that would make labour responsible for management activities. It seems to me that this is an integral part of human resources management and an important part of the general Canadian way of doing business.

Only the employer has the final decision on who to hire, promote, train, or terminate. The hon. member should be conscious of the importance of that within this bill, because it allows us to maintain the balance between management and labour. There is no disagreement here. We need the unions to participate fully, but we cannot upset the balance by forcing them to co-design a program or to consider them co-responsible with employers or we are going to undermine the system.

I would like to remind my colleague that workforces of employers are often represented by more than one union. This happens frequently, for instance, in Windsor, Ontario, where I am from. If all union representatives were expected to co-manage the preparation, implementation, and revision of this kind of plan there could be a situation of protracted delays in implementation, increased costs to employers, and possible deterioration in labour-management relations.

To my good friend from the Reform Party, I would like to point out that the cost of this to government would be phenomenal. If unions as well as employers were to submit reports and the human resources ministry required to make the reports public, there would be significant additional costs incurred. Since the human resources development ministry is required to make reports public, every expansion requires a greater budget for copying and distribution to interested parties across the country.

It is because of the Canadian people and in their interests that the Employment Equity Act is where it is today. It is a viable and effective tool for human resources management. I think we should let it continue to work the way it is, working co-operatively between management and unions. This has been done successfully in most employment equity activities for over a decade. Employers should continue to strive to get the input of interested parties in this valuable process, but let it be part of the collective bargaining system rather than something we enforce.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by associating myself most strongly with the cogent and competent comments of my colleague. I would continue the alliterative strain by naming her, but that of course would be unparliamentary, so I would merely congratulate the member for Windsor-St. Clair.

I want to say that I congratulate as well the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, because I know he has worked very hard on the committee. But I think his amendments in this particular vein do not go anywhere to further the spirit of the bill. It is furthering the spirit of the bill that the passage is all about. I guess I could say we want it to go through spiritus intactus, because this is a very important piece of legislation. It is important because it is broadly misunderstood in more than one area.

I heard earlier today, before leaving the House to go to committee, people equate employment equity and affirmative action. I want to talk about that first of all, because employment equity and affirmative action are not the same thing. Indeed, if I could go into employment equity, especially today, when we have all been visited by members and representatives of the Canadian Medical Association, a medical metaphor might be appropriate. When I say that employment equity is preventive, affirmative action is curative.

I might add that affirmative action is something that is enshrined in our Constitution, in our charter of rights and freedoms. Employment equity too has a very respectable and respected history in the House and indeed in the legislatures of a number of the provinces.

When I hear employment equity attacked I constantly hear it attacked on the basis of a new disadvantaged group. I want to make it very clear that I am not speaking now with tongue in cheek. I am not being sarcastic. I am, if anything, being plaintive. As I stand here in the House of Commons in this fall of 1995, I am a little tired of hearing that white males in this society are some sort of endangered species. White males still get 60 per cent of the jobs in this country. Name the profession, name the job category, name the area, and they still do better than anybody else.

Just look at the Chamber when it is full. Look at it tonight when we have the vote. Who are the overwhelming members of this Chamber in all parties? White males, and fond I am of most of you. But there is no question that it does not reflect the demographic picture of this country.

First, if the House were to reflect this country demographically, 52 per cent of the seats would be taken up by females first and foremost. We are slowly but surely getting to that point.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Right on.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. There appears to be some problem with the ventilation system in the Chamber. I am not responsible for the noise I assure you.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member has a good point but I would ask her if she would please not use the term "you" except when referring to whomever happens to be in the chair. I am sure the noise will diminish.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

I apologize, Mr. Speaker. At any rate I have used this phrase in a somewhat humorous vein but I will use it in truth here in this Chamber.

A number of my colleagues in debates on gender equality, employment equity or in whatever particular area you want said to me: "There are women's groups, where are the men's groups?" I say not at all in jest there is a men's group and it is called western civilization. That is the men's group.

If you go to any legislative assembly in the western world with the exception of two of the Scandinavian nations, the majority of elected members are white males. This is not to say that white males do not do a good job. Sure they do. But it is not the only face to be represented. Nor is it the only face to be represented on television stations, in radio stations, in fire stations, in whatever areas of employment, particularly those that come under the purview of the federal government.

It was my great pleasure and to my great benefit in the area of education that in the last Parliament I was the vice-chair of the committee that reviewed the employment equity legislation. I listened to a number of well-meaning white males who came before the committee and bragged. For example, in one organization-I will not name it but it has something to do with horses and red coats-in 24 years of an employment equity program it had added to the very highest echelons something like 20 women. Mr.

Speaker, I think you will sympathize with me that I found that statistic a little wanting, not to say a little daunting as well.

There is not a homogeneous culture in this country. There are any number of phrases that can be used to describe the beautiful face of Canada. The one that I heard most in my childhood was a vertical mosaic. I still like that one. I think it speaks very well to us.

We have used the phrase multiculturalism over the years and I like that one too. I like the fact, no, I love the fact that in this House of Commons today we see represented a variety, a rainbow of races, religious backgrounds, creeds and so on. That is the face of Canada. Our sorrow, our tragedy and our fault as legislators is that the rainbow is not represented the way it should be in the employment categories in those various institutions that fall within the federal purview.

When we dealt with employment equity in that committee in the last Parliament the big problem was enforcement and teeth. This bill is going to change that. This bill is going to make employment equity a reality.

I can only say that those people who fear it-and I am prepared to explain the difference between affirmative action and employment equity if they have a problem-do not really understand it. There is nothing to fear in allowing, encouraging and promoting the participation in the fullest sense of the word of all Canadians. It is our country. It belongs to all of us. Everyone should have equality of opportunity.

I do not for one instant think that anyone on either side of the House would be prepared to stand and deny that he or she agrees with equality of opportunity. That is something that all of us, no matter what our political stripe, agree with.

Consequently, if one agrees with that, then you must support this legislation. This legislation is not about special rights. It is not about saying to people you deserve something better because you are different. It is saying: "You deserve your share of the Canadian dream. You deserve equality of opportunity. You deserve to have systemic discrimination, unnatural barriers, removed so that with your training and your ability no matter what your skin colour, your gender, your religious background, your regional background, et cetera, you have the same road ahead of you as any other Canadian".

As we stand here and go forward in these pre-referendum days, Canadians are looking to us as legislators to talk about what this country really means. All of us know that what it really means is fairness, a sense of justice and an opportunity even for people who do not know what they are talking about to speak.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is part of the government. I would hope she would stay for just a few moments because I want to back up some of what she just said.

There are some things she could do as a government member that ought to be done with regard to a certain problem that has developed literally outside the doors of this Chamber. As we all know, a construction program is going on outside. Fuller Construction has a renovation job. It has subcontracted to another contractor who has in turn subcontracted some more to a unit run by Ray Wolf. He apparently made the mistake of having a 32-year old female engineer named Ms. Raney in charge of the project. The intermediate contractor forced Mr. Wolf to quit the job because he was using a female engineer.

Since the hon. member is part of the government I would hope she is listening to this and will do what she can to intervene to make certain this injustice is corrected.

I realize the interim construction company is headed by someone from the Middle East who has a different view of the role of women than some of the rest of Canadian society. However, we live under Canadian law. These are the Canadian Houses of Parliament his company is working on. Surely there could be more ability to recognize people on merit rather than to discriminate against them because a company chooses to use a female engineer.

I do not want to say very much more about this legislation. I am just so angry this kind of thing can happen here on the grounds of Parliament Hill that I wanted to make sure it was raised after someone who has been a firm and loud protector of the equality of women as is the member for Halifax who preceded me.

I was hoping I could add some fire to her usual ability to get things done that would have her take on this case and see if the minister of public works cannot correct this great injustice which has no place in the Parliament of Canada or in this country.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Thalheimer Liberal Timmins—Chapleau, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that the Bloc's recommendations have resulted in improvements to Bill C-64. My hon. colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve contributed to the work of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons. His dedication to employment equity has added to the legislation.

I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised to see Motion No. 7 put forward by the opposition. The Bloc Quebecois has already raised this issue in committee and the committee has gone a

considerable way to accommodate it. The hon. member persuaded the committee to accept a requirement that employers and labour must collaborate in the preparation, implementation and revision of the employment equity plan.

Let me begin by reminding the House that the existing act only calls for consultation between the employer and worker representatives. Bill C-64 would go further, ensuring that employees, through their unions or employee representatives, will have considerably more input to their company's equity plan when the plan is developed, implemented and revised. We saw the merit of this approach and have endorsed it. However, the proposed amendment to the bill goes too far and is not advisable. Allow me to explain why.

This amendment would preserve the employer's sole responsibility to prepare its employment equity plan in consultation with employee representatives. However, if adopted this motion would import a government imposed requirement for co-management rather than collaboration between the employer and employee representatives in the implementation and revision of employment equity plans.

This poses some potentially serious problems since the obligations set out in the act are imposed on employers alone. A bargaining agent might very well refuse to co-operate, perhaps motivated by reasons that have nothing to do with employment equity, and could bring the implementation of employment equity to a standstill, potentially putting the employer in a situation of non-compliance.

Furthermore, since employment equity is an integral part of human resource management this sort of regime might provide unions with an opportunity to exercise direct influence in areas that have usually remained the sole prerogative of management, such as hiring and promotion.

Surely my hon. colleague will recognize that management should have the final responsibility for all employer obligations under the bill and would be held accountable if those responsibilities are not met. It is only reasonable, therefore, that final decision making continue to belong to management in this area.

For the benefit of all employers and worker representatives and for the good of workplace relations, I must recommend that the House not accept the proposed amendment.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say at the outset that I endorse the principle of labour-management consultation and co-operation on matters relating to the workplace under federal jurisdiction.

We all know that working together brings out the best results for all concerned. This is what we are trying to achieve in the wording of clause 15 of Bill C-64 as it has been reported back from the standing committee.

Let me read the introductory portion of what clause 15 currently says:

Every employer shall consult with its employees' representatives by inviting the representatives to provide their views-

Bill C-64 also explicitly recognizes the role of bargaining agents in the workplace. I quote further from clause 15:

Where employees are represented by a bargaining agent, the bargaining agent shall participate in a consultation under subsection (1).

The above provisions underline the kind of environment we all want to have in the workplace.

We do not want management to be making arbitrary decisions without consulting the interest of employees. We want the employees to be fully involved in all matters that involve them, be they health and safety issues or employment equity issues.

We want to have a policy of inclusion followed, not one of exclusion. We believe that everyone in the workplace should have the opportunity to put forward their ideas and views. In line with the entire spirit of employment equity is the elimination of barriers.

The standing committee recognized the value of this type of consultation when it reviewed the bill introduced at first reading. The testimony they heard from the witnesses at their hearings led them to strengthen the provisions. The provisions currently in the bill have already been strengthened from what was originally proposed. All one has to do is to read further in clause 15:

Every employer and its employees' representatives shall collaborate in the preparation, implementation and revision of the employer's employment equity plan.

The standing committee added the concept of collaboration. This goes beyond the concept of consultation. However the standing committee recognized that the concept of collaboration could not interfere with employers' obligations under the act.

It is for the individual employer who has specific obligations under the act that there are provisions for non-compliance when the employer meets these obligations. That is why there is a very important provision at the end of clause 15:

Consultation under subsection (1) and collaboration under subsection (3) are not forms of co-management.

We need to recognize that the responsibility for implementing employment equity in the workplace is that of management. The

current wording of the bill provides for this. That is why I have so many problems with the wording of Motion No. 7. We have to be very careful in considering the implications of the proposed amendment.

If adopted, the amendment would require the employer and its employees' representatives to implement and revise the employment equity plan jointly. In a perfect world perhaps this would work, but we must recognize that we are still trying to achieve a perfect world, as my colleagues from the Reform Party tell me on a daily basis. This is one reason there is need for an employment equity act and this is one reason the proposed amendment goes too far.

A number of problems would result if the motion were adopted and the act subsequently proclaimed into law. Employers could try to evade their responsibilities by saying that progress is being stalled by an unco-operative bargaining agent. Presumably there would be a call for a compliance officer to intervene, but there are no enforceable obligations on bargaining agents in the legislation. There would nothing a compliance officer could do in a case where there are bad relations between labour and management, perhaps as a result or in connection with an industrial dispute.

Employment equity is related to the human resources management field and to the hiring and promotion processes. These are traditionally considered to be areas reserved to management. We have to recognize this reality.

Again I reinforce the purpose of the act as set out in section 2:

The purpose of this act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.

In summary the purpose of the act is to achieve equality in the workplace and to correct the conditions and disadvantages experienced by certain groups. Bill C-64, as currently worded, provides the appropriate balance between employee participation, management powers and obligations. That is why we should not adopt the motion.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Davenport-nuclear tests.

Employment Equity ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I should like to speak to Motion No. 7 that is before us.

I congratulate the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve who has been an excellent member of the committee on human rights which I had the privilege of chairing and which looked into bill before the House today. The member made a lot of useful contributions to the committee. I am glad he affixed his signature to the majority report.

There are still sentiments the particular member would like to continue to advance. I respect his need to see to it that employees' representatives be at the management table. Although he indicated that the amendment would not result in co-management, I think there are grave doubts and concerns about the amendment. That is why the majority of committee members saw to it that it would not happen.

Why was that? It was because one of the underlying principles of the bill was a balanced approach to the setting of plans and the implementation of the employment equity plan. In that so-called balanced approach we must ensure that as we invoke obligations for employers we do not provide them with unnecessary' onerous and impractical burdens. Were the employees to be given this right despite the disclaimer it is very conceivable that it can be construed as a co-management approach. Certainly we feel it will add a real burden for businesses in particular.

In recognition of the contribution of the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve we amended the bill to see to it that employers and employees collaborate and consult in the preparation of the plan. We would have liked to have seen the employees' representatives being in on the co-management approach. In the spirit of co-operation at committee level we saw to it that employers would provide information to the employees about the purpose of the employment equity measures of the bill to be undertaken to implement a given employment equity plan.

The committee also made the point that the bill would not require public availability of employment equity plans which, to be effective, would contain confidential and proprietary information on the part of businesses. Every member of the House would like to see to it that we do not divulge what businesses feel are their proprietary properties and therefore necessary to ensure their competitive advantage in the business world.

We feel we must reject the amendment. In effect it would take the prerogative of management from employers. It would impose an impractical burden on them. Since the act in its totality imposes that legal obligation only on employers for failure to set and adopt an employment equity plan, it is only fair that this kind of

responsibility rests solely with employers where the legal obligation rests.

I can conceive of one possibility, for example. In the process of the joint approach to the development of the plan the bargaining agent for the employees, for reasons not related to the implementation of the equity plan, could stall or delay the finalization of the plan for reasons other than related to the employment equity plan. It would delay what we would like to have happen. On that basis we have to continue to retain the prerogative of the act to give the obligation, responsibility and privilege to employers.

Briefly, again to put into context the motion before us, why it is important that we not overburden employers? In the beginning the employment equity concept in Canada started as a consequence of bias, of prejudice against employers. Those instances happened before the sixties and in the sixties the practice was recognized. Human rights legislation was enacted to potentially correct the biases and discrimination.

It proved to be those approaches were not sufficient and so came the second phase in the evolution of the concept, that there exists systemic barriers in the system, unintended bias one may call it, systemic discrimination, but not without malice.

To solve the problem of systemic barriers it is important to get the full co-operation of employers and the business side. It is important that we do not introduce any kind of provision in the act that businesses will see as an additional burden.

Canada should be proud today that in so far as the employment equity legislation is concerned we nearly have unanimous support from the business community at large. We should thank that community for its confidence in the initiative of the government. We should continue to recognize that privilege. If we work on a co-operative and collaborative basis, the more we will achieve. Canada is unique in that regard. I can sense the hon. member is now agreeing to the arguments I am proposing.

We welcome the contribution of the member, but I feel we should reject the motion for the reasons I have indicated. We need the full provisions of the employment equity law in Canada and we need to reinforce it very strongly. Now that we have extended the coverage and now that we have invoked an enforcement mechanism, the world is looking at us as a model. Contrary to an earlier amendment from the third party, we have embarked upon a new milestone, the further evolution of the concept of employment equity.

As I said earlier in the debate on another motion, the committee in its wisdom respecting employment equity made a commitment to merit. I think even Mr. Speaker is smiling at the beauty of this report.

I ask members to reject this motion.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-93, an act to amend the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Cultural Property Export And Import ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-93, an act to amend the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Income Tax Act and the Tax Court of Canada Act.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the House will now proceed to the recorded division on the motion.

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5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe members would agree that those who voted on the previous motion, the main motion for second reading of Bill C-93, be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting yea.

Oceans ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote against this motion.

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5:25 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Reform members will vote against the motion, except for those who might wish to vote otherwise.