House of Commons Hansard #259 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


Question Passed As Order For ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Question Passed As Order For ReturnRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Before proceeding to Orders of the Day, I wish to inform the House that pursuant to Standing Order 33, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 18 minutes.

Again, before proceeding, I have a point of order from the hon. member for Fraser Valley West.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier today in question period the Minister of Public Works and Government Services indicated he would be pleased to table a document. I request he do that for our information.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. The minister obviously was called away following question period and forgot to table the document.

He indicated his willingness to do so. I would be happy, on behalf of the hon. member for Fraser Valley West, to raise the matter with the minister and see if the document cannot be tabled either later this day or on Monday. I hope that is satisfactory with him.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to thank the parliamentary secretary for his co-operation in this matter and I am sure that the matter will be resolved in due course.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-96, an act to establish the Department of Human Resources Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-96, an act to establish the Department of Human Resources Development and to amend and repeal certain related acts.

Last week in my office I received a status of women document that prompts me to speak to this bill today. That document was a prepared camera ready piece to be used as an insert in householders from members of Parliament across Canada.

It describes Canada's role at the fourth UN conference on women to an unsuspecting public. It described the government as recognizing the importance of strengthening the family. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Department of Human Resources Development is one of 24 federal departments included in the status of women plans. I will read from the document:

In preparing for the Conference-

-that is the fourth UN conference on women-

-Canada developed its own national action plan for gender equality "Setting the Stage for the Next Century: the Federal Plan for Gender Equality," published in August, is a framework for federal action to advance women's equality in Canada to the year 2000".

This federal plan for gender equality outlines eight lofty sounding objectives. Today I would like to touch on five of the eight objectives to which the Department of Human Resources Development has committed.

The first is to implement gender based analysis throughout federal departments and agencies. The second is to improve women's economic autonomy and well-being. Sixth, incorporate women's perspective in governance. Seventh, promote and support global gender equality and, eighth, advance gender equality for employees of federal departments and agencies.

Human Resources Development before and after the reorganization this formalizes agreed along with other federal departments to implement this gender based analysis. What is gender based analysis? What is the definition offered by the government in its own publication? According to the federal plan:

A gender based approach ensures that the development, analysis and implementation of legislation and policies are undertaken with an appreciation of gender differences. It also acknowledges that some women may be disadvantaged even further because of their race, colour, sexual orientation, social economic position, region, ability level or age.

Notice the subtle reference to sexual orientation in this list. This word, until recently with the passage of Bill C-41, did not exist in federal legislation. Even now the recognition of sexual orientation is not yet in our Canadian Human Rights Act. With this government document, however, it is now official policy in every government department, courtesy of the Status of Women and not of Parliament.

It is the ambiguous concept of gender I should like to give close attention to today. The dictionary definition of gender refers to a person's sex. In contrast to this, according to the federal plan:

Gender refers not to men or women, but to the relationship between them and to the ways in which the roles of women and men, girls and boys, are socially constructed.

The document goes on to expand on the concept of gender equality. To achieve gender equality, the social arrangements that govern the relationship between men and women will have to change to give equal value to the different roles they play as parents, as workers, and so on and so forth.

The word parent does occur here. Does this mean that the importance of parent and family is being recognized? Has the traditional family or family been deemed to be worthy of the government's attention? If we go further in the document we realize that this is not the case. It goes on to say such statements as:

Equality for all women will come about only as these attitudes embedded in the workplace, education institutes and family are challenged and begin to change.

Another example of this policy duplicity is the following:

Unequal participation and progress in paid work further undermines a woman's ability to achieve and sustain personal autonomy throughout her life.

This statement reflects the bias that it is only paid work that defines a woman's ability, value and worth in society. This illustrates the government's contempt for home and family relationships.

Participation in the workplace defines ability, value and worth according to this Liberal government document. With this bias it is not only family structures that become criticized under the microscope of their gender equality, but such things as religion, customs and traditional practices. The free choice or preference of individuals is replaced by this government imposed priority of workforce participation.

Gender equality is also based upon the assumption of attaining equal outcomes, as noted in the federal plan:

Attaining gender equality is predicated on the achievement of equal outcomes for both men and women.

That is brought about not only by equal treatment but by "positive actions". Positive actions imply government intervention. This document blatantly states that treating women and men identically will not ensure equal outcomes. Thus the philosophy of gender equality leads to the policy of employment equity and affirmative action from the workplace right through to the kitchens of our national homes. This policy has been rejected outright by Canadians and certainly by my constituents in Port Moody-Coquitlam.

A recent survey I conducted of my constituents indicated that some 87 per cent believe that merit and merit alone should be the sole criteria for hiring and promotion. They have rejected employment equity and affirmative action, certainly in the workplace and most certainly in the home.

The policy or practice of employment equity is a fundamental insult to the abilities of women. It is a fundamental insult to me. The government cannot and should not mandate equal outcome in workplace participation between the sexes, between men and women. That should not be its role. Rather, the government should seek to encourage equality of opportunity and freedom of choice. Individuals should be free to decide how they wish to participate, both inside and outside the home.

The government obviously has no respect for the value of nurturing or sustaining families. The government does not take into account nor does it respect that women may have other alternatives and priorities in life, may wish to make choices other than government choices, and may wish to invest their time and efforts in their families. Therefore it was to my great surprise to read the status of women document which states that they recognize the importance of the family and the importance of strengthening it.

The minister pays only lip service to the needs and priorities of Canadian families while giving full service to radical feminists through such documents as the gender equality plan and the Beijing platform for action. It should be noted that neither the platform for action nor the federal plan for gender equality has been presented to the House. We have not seen a shred of those documents in this place for discussion. We have not been able to scrutinize what is in them, as we deserve to do. The government has legislated in 24

federal departments, including human resources, without this legislature.

Where is the accountability in our system of government? The government, according to its notorious red book, stated that "open government would be the watchword of the Liberal government program". Why has not the government brought this agenda to the public's attention? Yet the two documents to which I referred, one being domestic and the other an international UN agreement, will have wide-ranging impact upon our legislation, our public policy, our society and our families.

We will recall last month the passage of Bill C-64, a monument to employment equity in all federal departments. It is no coincidence that this is in the Beijing document.

Human resources development is a main player in the realization of the Liberal government's gender based analysis agenda. It intends at any moment to interfere in the free choice of Canadian families by introducing a national day care program. It intends to add a further tax burden to all Canadians with this program in its desire to become a nanny state.

We thought last year that the power of the radical women's lobby was defunded and disempowered with the removal of the National Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The Human Resources Development Department has committed to continued and added support for and influence from gender equity activists through the platform for action. This department among many others has committed to the funding and advice of gender feminist NGO groups to implement their gender equality objectives.

We find that even the promotion and support of global gender equality is one of the mandates of the new human resources development. It applied to the department's funding radical feminists going to Beijing. It will apply to ongoing NAFTA labour agreements. Its mandate even applies to other international activities.

Nothing is free or even cheap in federal government. What will the new priority cost this department or other departments? In lean economic times should the limited resources and sadly needed resources of a human resources development department be used to realize the unwanted agenda of a powerful special interest group, or should its limited resources apply to the needs of real Canadians?

Instead of debating substantive and controversial policy issues such as the gender based employment equity contained in the platform for action and the federal plan for gender equality, we are debating a pro forma bill, Bill C-96, which actually offers nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing bold enough to reform this department or, more important, to reform federal-provincial relations. While RD is enacting fundamental, costly, revolutionizing social policy behind the scenes, Bill C-96 does not even have a royal recommendation attached to it.

I am sure however that the cost of implementing the plan for gender equality and the platform for action will be considerable not only in this department but in every department across government. This is an issue that I intend to pursue. This cost will not only be in dollars but it will be in the weakened viability of our most precious societal institutions, and one such institution is our families.

The government's non-legislative agenda is of great concern to me. This non-legislative agenda permeates every nook and cranny of every federal department at this point in time.

Earlier the minister was saying that their policies affect the social fabric of the country. They certainly do. This one in particular strikes the very centre of our social fabric. The general secretary to the Beijing conference, Gertrude Mongella, declared at the opening ceremony of that conference that "all evidence points to a social revolution in the making".

The two documents I have mentioned, the ones going into this department and others, will have a profound effect on our governments, our laws, our society and our families. What Bill C-96 shuffles around on the surface and what we are talking about today actually belie a whirlpool of change underneath.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

York North Ontario


Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy listening to the hon. member's speech, but sometimes I find that members of the Reform Party miss some major points in legislation. I will quickly review for the hon. member the major objectives of the legislation and what the legislation allows the federal government to continue doing.

Essentially it does a few things. It draws together portions of the former departments of employment and immigration, health and welfare, the secretary of state, and labour. The legislation will also allow the Government of Canada to continue improving employment programs and services for Canadians and building on what I consider to be significant achievements over the past two years.

I should like to list some of those. We enacted some major changes to make student loans more accessible, flexible and sustainable, helping more than 300,000 students this year alone. The hon. member from the Bloc will know that because of the flexible federalism that exists in the country there is an opting out provision for the province of Quebec which allows the province of Quebec to administer its own Canada student loans program.

For the very first time the federal government moved to establish a special opportunities grant for individuals, like high need, part time students, women pursuing doctoral studies and disabled students. Through this department we have also created youth internship programs that have led to real jobs for some 27,000 young Canadians, which is 20 per cent more than the red book commitment.

We have approximately 130 Youth Service Canada projects across the country that give young people the opportunity to serve their community and to obtain valuable work experience.

Through effective partnerships with major industries and through the establishment of sectoral councils the government has been able to generate, for every federal dollar, $1.50 from the private sector because it believes the way to go in the new economy is through effective partnerships. We also have joint federal-provincial initiatives helping some 60,000 single mothers, older workers, aboriginals, young people get the new skills and new jobs.

Approximately $111 million has been spent on older workers. The government has invested in a program for older workers over the past three years to help displaced workers deal with the new dynamic configuration occurring in the Canadian economy.

The government has also done something that I believe is extremely important. In order to modernize the economy you must modernize the way government delivers its services. Services have been integrated and decentralized, moving from 450 to 750 points of service reaching smaller communities 24 hours a day.

We talk about family. We talk about our seniors. We talk about young people. We talk about providing all Canadians-we are part of the Canadian family-with better services. There are four times as many offices where seniors can get in-person service. That is a fantastic accomplishment.

The best technology is used to speed up service for UI. Processing time has been cut by two days. OAS claims have been cut from eight days to one-half day. We are focusing on employment programs that work like the self-employment assistance program from which 34,000 Canadians have benefited. They have created a job for themselves but more important, they have also created jobs for others. On its own this program has created 68,000 jobs.

The point I am making to the hon. member is if we are talking about the Canadian family, i.e. everyone who resides within this country, it is crystal clear the government has moved in a positive direction. I hope that once in a while members of the opposition would get up on their feet and applaud these excellent initiatives by the Liberal government.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if that was a question or a comment.

I enjoy the opportunity to answer my colleague's presentation. He talks about the Canadian family. I am talking about Canadian families, the root of our society.

I would like to reflect on what has happened in the last 20 years to Canadian families. In that time, especially in the last five years, youth violence has more than doubled. Real income, the amount of money a family has to support itself with, has dropped by some 6.5 per cent in the last five or six years because of taxation, because of government overspending and because of fiscal policies that are putting tremendous pressures on the people that are trying to hold this nation together.

Consider suicide rates. We have the third highest suicide rate among male youth in the world. The divorce rate has increased 10 times in the last 35 years and we are shuffling the chairs around on the deck saying: "We'll spend more money".

What are the priorities of Canadians? Is it their priority to find out what government can do or what they can do in job creation? We want to put the tools in the hands of Canadians so they can create the jobs. It is not what government can do, it is what Canadians can do. Government priorities should not be prompted by special interest groups, but what Canadian priorities are.

The Canadian priorities are that their families be strengthened and that they be given the instruments to create their own future. That is exactly what the government's fiscal policies, justice policies and social policies are stripping away from those families. I put that to the hon. member who made the comments.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief comment to make. I want to congratulate the member for the relevance of the example she gave with regard to the family. Indeed we can see how the government is giving itself a lot of leeway in connection with policies that it is presenting abroad as being Canadian without having them validated in the House or even commented on.

Based on this example, we have good reason to question the appropriateness of giving the federal government the responsibility it wants to give itself in clause 20 of the bill, for example, which says: "-the Minister may enter into agreements with a province or group of provinces, agencies of provinces, financial institutions and such other persons or bodies as the Minister considers appropriate".

If this clause is left unchanged, and this is the question I will put the member, it means that the federal government can go against policies put in place by the provinces. Family policy is an

interesting example because choices in this regard may differ across Canada.

If clause 20 is left unchanged, it allows the federal government to interfere in areas under provincial jurisdiction, in areas where policies already exist. Does the member not agree that we should at least amend this clause by adding to it that, when agreements are signed with public bodies, financial institutions or any other person, it be done in accordance with priorities established by the provinces? I would like to hear the member's opinion on this subject.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, certainly as a Reformer and as a supporter of the accountability of programs being in the hands of those closest to the people who have to put the programs in place, I support the premise that the control of programs and decisions that are made be as close to the people as possible.

I must add at the same time that every part of our nation should have the same input into what those decisions are. Certainly provinces can be deemed equal in the administration of the programs. The federal government's participation in those programs should be minimized as much as possible while maintaining the integrity and protection of Canadians across the system. The actual delivery of programs should be in provincial hands in an equal fashion from coast to coast.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-96, the act to establish the Department of Human Resources Development.

The main object of this bill is to lend unified legal status to the department, enabling it to continue to assist Canadians in getting back to work. This is a housekeeping bill and is not intended to implement any major reforms. It does not call for any new organizational changes or new expenditures, and does not affect federal-provincial relations.

Bill C-96 draws together and consolidates the legislative foundation of the new Department of Human Resources Development. It does not add anything new or subtract from the foundation. It merely puts everything in one place. That in itself is important. It is plain common sense. For administrative reasons alone, it is far more efficient to have a single legislative basis for the department. However, there is more to this than mere administrative convenience.

When the government launched the department under the name of human resources development, it set the stage for a real change not just in name but in direction, in the way Human Resources Development Canada serves Canadians.

Over the past two years, HRDC has been changing, innovating and adapting to the realities of today's economy and today's labour market. It is modernizing the way it does business, the way it delivers the services Canadians need, the way it works for Canadians in the changing world. For the nine million Canadians who come to HRDC for help this is why Bill C-96 is so important. The bill provides the solid foundation the department needs to keep moving forward.

It is important to Canada's seniors. Last year the department completed the first year in a three-year income security program redesign project. Phase 2 is already well under way. The department is streamlining rules and procedures, developing the best technology available. The end result will be a fully modernized, efficient network for delivering services to clients of the old age security and Canada pension plan programs.

Once fully implemented, the new system will save taxpayers up to $100 million yearly in operating costs. Moreover, it will also provide faster service to seniors, the people who really depend on these programs for their security. For their sakes, let us ensure that the bill stays on track and is passed as quickly as possible.

Income security program redesign is only the start. As the minister has already announced in the House, Human Resources Development Canada has undertaken a complete review of its service delivery network, with a view to making it decentralized, integrated, user friendly and flexible. It will serve a greater number of Canadians everywhere in the country better than before. In reality, because of the new network, the number of departmental service points will be increased from 450 to 700 within three years.

These will include 300 Human Resources Development Canada centres, which will provide quality one-on-one counselling to clients; self-serve mechanisms such as telephone, interactive television and computer services, which will broaden access to HRDC services; up to 400 electronic kiosks, which means self-serve terminals will be available in communities throughout the country.

The department is already creating the most advanced, efficient service delivery network in the federal government. Work on developing new technologies for this new network is well advanced, with things like a national on-line labour market information system incorporating an electronic job search bulletin board. The system will help people do their own matching between their skills and the jobs available anywhere in Canada.

Pilot testing a new system called TELEDEC lets unemployment insurance claimants submit their bi-weekly report over a touchtone

telephone instead of by mail or in person. TELEDEC allows people to get their cheques two days faster.

TELE-APP, a new system being tested in partnership with NBTel allows people who have collected UI in the last 52 weeks to reapply using a touchtone phone.

APPLI-SYS, a touch screen computer program helps people apply for UI benefits more quickly.

Pilot testing document imaging begins the movement toward paperless claim processing.

Early results from these new systems are promising. They are just the first of a range of technologies from the Internet application to software training packages that HRDC will explore to provide faster, more efficient service.

We are bringing service delivery into the 21st century. In the process we are empowering more Canadians to help themselves.

One of the main objectives of the new service delivery network is to facilitate decentralization of the entire structure of departmental operations, to put into place programs and services within the community, to move decision making centres as close to the client as possible, and to get those most affected by programs and services actively involved in them.

For instance, the network will include community-based mechanisms which will involve input from provincial governments and business, municipalities and community groups, working as partners with Human Resources Development Canada.

With the human resources investment fund, we integrate these partnerships with our programs and services. Partnerships work, as seen from what has been achieved by sector councils that bring together entire industries and promote strategic initiatives with the provinces and co-operation with community groups across the country.

Take one of the youth internship projects, in Winnipeg, where 45 young people go to work every morning and go to school every afternoon. They acquire practical experience while taking courses that are relevant to that experience, and they are guaranteed a job when they finish the course.

What is really interesting about this project is that five major private sector firms in Winnipeg, for example, are not only taking part, they are taking the lead enthusiastically. It is not a case of government and business working on separate tracks; it is a case of partnership in action. And this year alone there will be 25,000 young interns in similar projects across the country.

That is where the department is headed. It is a new direction for Human Resources Development Canada and it is getting real concrete results for Canadians, for seniors, for young men and women, for people working hard to develop new skills for a new economy. It is getting results for the single mother, who for the first time can now get a grant to help care for her children while she goes to school. It is getting results for the older worker who finds a lifetime job taken over by technology but now has a real opportunity to prepare for new work and find a new job. That is why this bill is important.

Over the past few years the transitional arrangements put in place to create the new Department of Human Resources Development have worked well. They have helped to put HRDC and our labour market and social programs on a new course. It is up to us to make sure the department can continue on that course. It is up to us to ensure the department moves forward and does so with a solid foundation. Bill C-96 provides that foundation. We need to pass the bill and get on with the work of serving Canadians.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was particularly surprised the hon. member's remarks at the start of his speech, when he said the bill served to consolidate legislation and that it had no effect on federal provincial relations.

I would like to ask the member why, then, the Quebec minister of employment made the following statement: "Bill C-96 flies in the face of the consensus in Quebec that the federal government should get completely out of labour matters and give the budgets involved back to Quebec".

I would also like the minister to tell us why the Société québécoise de la main-d'oeuvre passed a unanimous resolution in favour of the bill's withdrawal, stating that Quebec should have sole responsibility for workforce adaptation policies and occupational training within its borders and should therefore have the funds the federal government allocates to these programs in Quebec.

I would also like the member to tell us why Ghislain Dufour, the spokesperson for the Conseil du patronat du Québec, known in Quebec for his federalist stance, said the same thing in the papers yesterday. According to him, if the federal government really wants to show its good faith in wanting the sort of change Quebec was seeking in the referendum, could it not, in this sector, at least have the decency as a federal government to correct its bill so the provinces could withdraw from its application, should they consider it relevant to do so, so that, in the end, the consensus in Quebec echoed by union federations, the Conseil du patronat, the party in power and the opposition may extend to all Quebecers? Why does the government not decide to give Quebec an opportunity to exercise its jurisdiction over manpower? Have the promises of

change made prior to October 30 already disappeared in a puff of smoke?

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, here again we have a Bloc member, a separatist member, who is babbling away in true separatist fashion, in a parochial manner, focusing exclusively and constantly on Quebec.

He should be talking about Canada as a whole, and considering how we can advance the cause of young people, single mothers, single parent families, and senior citizens. We are debating a bill providing the federal government with a structure to maintain and develop partnerships with the provinces and territories, management, labour, community groups and those involved in education, in order to reach common social and economic goals.

We are talking about giving young Quebecers, since he is only interested in Quebec, the opportunity to find out, via computers in their own area or community, if there are jobs outside their own parish, town, or province. They are given access to the labour market anywhere in Canada, and mobility throughout the country.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member does not want to answer the question for a bad separatist member, could he answer Ghislain Dufour, spokesperson for the Conseil du patronat du Québec, a recognized federalist, and Gérald Ponton, president of the Association des manufacturiers du Québec, who is not identified with the sovereignist camp either? Let the member reply to those people if he will not give an answer here, to the Bloc Quebecois, or to the Quebec government. Let him reply to the federalist Quebecers who unanimously support Quebec's consensus on the repatriation of jurisdiction in the manpower sector.

What is the member's answer to those people concerning Quebec's request that has been there on the table for five years?

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it funny that the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup has finally admitted that he is a no-good separatist.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

I did not say "no-good".

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

I editorialized a bit; he is a separatist. I do not know if separatist is synonymous with no-good, but many in this country would say that the separatists are no good as a group but not necessarily as individuals.

Do you think for a minute that I will answer questions from Bloc members, from people who have led the province of Quebec in all kinds of directions, into a muddle, who drafted a referendum question that got everyone confused? Thirty per cent of those who voted yes thought they were voting for some kind of association and not for separation.

Bloc members, Quebec separatists and PQ members manipulated referendum scrutineers, telling them to reject ballots marked with an X that was too dark or not dark enough. There is an appalling number-this is unprecedented in Canadian history-except perhaps when Maurice Duplessis was in power. Maurice Duplessis may have come back as a Bloc member. During the referendum, these blockheads blocked some people's access to the polling stations.

If they did not like someone's face, colour or language, they stopped and harassed them to prevent them from voting. Then, after those Canadians living in Quebec managed to cast their votes, they would check to see if their X was a little crooked. Those with shaking hands were unfortunate because their votes did not count. I have never seen something as outrageous as the counting of the votes on the night of the referendum.

If you think I will answer quotes from a separatist-First of all, I would question the accuracy of his quotes and, second, I will not waste my time answering Bloc members.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-96, to restructure the Department of Human Resources Development. I have been following the debate with interest ever since the minister made his presentation yesterday. I listened to the minister and his parliamentary secretary. I also listened to some speeches made by government members and the various questions that were asked, including the one put by our colleague from Parkdale-High Park.

I draw from all of this a vision of Canada. I am not one to impugn motives right off the bat. I noticed that speeches were high quality, and a number of general principles have emerged. Of course, other remarks, and those made by the previous speaker are perhaps an example of this, remind us that mediocrity is to be found everywhere, even in the House of Commons.

I would like to look back over the debate, because, as I listened, I could perceive two visions: the standard Liberal vision and the Bloc Quebecois vision. I will not deal with what my hon. colleagues from the Reform Party said, but I think that basic issues were raised by the Liberals that need to be pointed out and set in the context of this debate.

Basically, we are looking at the same mountain, except from different points of view. I think that the Minister of Human Resources Development was sincere in his presentation. What did this presentation contain? First, he described a vision of Canada, along with the federal government's responsibilities according to that vision.

I understood the minister to say that the federal government feels it has responsibilities regarding the development of human resources everywhere in Canada. That sector includes issues related to manpower, employment, education, daycare and, in fact, any-

thing that directly concerns individuals, such as their families, their training, their education and their children.

The minister told us that this bill merely seeks to provide a legislative framework for what is already being done in Canada, partly through the federal government's spending power, but also under the laws passed by this Parliament. I have seen, in my riding, some initiatives taken by the Department of Human Resources Development. I must say that, before coming here, I was not very familiar with the Canadian realities related to that department. I knew that there was an employment centre. I also knew that the federal government was involved in various ways, and I saw it take action.

I have no criticism of the way department officials take action. They implement the programs. They do so with the best of intentions and they also try to do it efficiently. Just think of programs such as Article 25, the employability development program, and also programs such as the youth service, or the access to work program for women, which is designed to help women who do not get UI or welfare benefits find work.

These programs reflect good intentions, as well as a clear desire to do the utmost. Through its initiatives, the department seeks to reach out to people in their everyday lives. It reaches out to individuals and community groups, and it signs agreements with municipalities. All this is currently taking place. It is being done and the bill before us seeks to provide a legislative framework for all these initiatives.

Clause 6 clearly states that the minister's powers apply anywhere in Canada. It says:

The powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to the development of the human resources of Canada-

That provision is extremely wide in scope. As for clause 20, it provides that:

-the Minister may enter into agreements with a province or group of provinces, agencies of provinces, financial institutions and such other persons or bodies as the Minister considers appropriate.

In other words, given the provisions of this bill, the minister may enter into agreements with anyone, so as to get involved in the education, manpower and employment sectors.

If we lived in a unitarian state, that might be a solution. Although Canada is a very big country, it has a rather large population and it could be said that, because of regional characteristics, it may be good to have some degree of decentralization so that local needs are taken into account by the minister.

But we are not in a unitarian country although a number of constitutional experts, considering the evolution of Canada, are not willing to say that we are in a federation, let alone in a confederation. But, in a federation, there are various levels of government and, ordinarily, these levels of government are sovereign in their jurisdiction. Canada is made up of provinces which, if we take a look at the Constitution, are supposed to have jurisdiction over education, training, over all the areas that have to do with Canadians as individuals, the federal government having kept, in 1867, jurisdiction over external trade, defence and the economy in general.

If we examine the bill and the objectives of the bill, we realize that this legislation which is now before Parliament will give a federal minister the right to interfere in areas under provincial jurisdiction. It is shocking. People of my race have found this shocking for years-and I use the word race in the sense of nation, as Mr. Duplessis did, since, moments ago, the member for Carleton-Gloucester reminded us of Maurice Duplessis. My people have always been shocked by these ways of doing things.

For us, it is not only a question of what we could call a constitutional orthodoxy, according to which the federal government should have no say in provincial jurisdictions, but there is also an element of efficiency because in Quebec-other provinces may do what they want in this regard-there has been a large consensus for years now. My colleagues talked about it, especially the hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, who raises the issue every time he has the floor. That consensus is that, for reason of efficiency, all the issues of professional training, manpower and employment must be Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction.

I think that is self evident. I do not want to repeat what has already been said by other Bloc speakers, but nonetheless, I want to relate a personal experience. A few years ago, I was a career counsellor in the professional training centre in Jonquière, which is the biggest training centre in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. At the time, we provided training in many areas: mechanics, plumbing, electricity, and so on. Every year we trained a group of students in industrial mechanics.

At one point, a study had concluded that industrial mechanics was a trade with a future.

What happened? Our school board kept offering a course in industrial mechanics to a group of about 20 students. The Government of Quebec, willing to provide training to social assistance recipients, commissioned the school board to train people in industrial mechanics-which made two groups-and the federal government also commissioned the school board to train two other groups in industrial mechanics.

Whereas every year we used to have one group of students in industrial mechanics, that year we had four groups. The school board, the Government of Quebec and the federal government did not consult with each other, everybody being busy with their own little policies.

What happened? At the end of the year, instead of 20 people applying for a job, they were about 80. As a result, most of them did not find a job, which killed the industrial mechanics option in the area for several years.

It is sad to see that people genuinely wanting to go back to the labour market were offered training for what was basically a dead end trade, not because studies promising jobs in that field were badly done, but because there had not been any consultation between the federal and provincial governments and the school board. That is what we want to avoid in Quebec.

In Quebec, we want to have a full employment policy, the same type of policy they have in Austria, in some Scandinavian countries or even in Germany. Those full employment policies usually produce unemployment rates of about 6 or 7 per cent, instead of the 12 or 13 per cent rates we have in Quebec and instead of the 15 or 16 per cent rates we have in my area, Jonquière, or in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area.

That is what we want to do, but to do so, we need tools. We need co-ordination, but with the present practices in Canada, there is no co-ordination.

This is why everyone in Quebec, whether the Quebec Liberal Party, the Conseil du patronat du Québec, or central labour bodies-with the exception of the provincial wing of the Liberal Party of Canada-is calling for the return of powers regarding manpower training and employment policies to Quebec so that the province can set policies to ensure that people will get useful training, taking the present job market into consideration, and will not be the victims of jurisdictional disputes or arguments between public servants.

For four or five years now, the Government of Quebec, whether Liberal or Parti Quebecois, all governments of Quebec have been calling for training to be made the responsibility of the government of Quebec.

And what do we see this morning in the House? Bill C-96, which says exactly the opposite, which says that the co-ordination will not be done by the Government of Quebec. This bill tells us that the minister will be entitled, for each community, municipality or province, as he wishes, to present programs, to suggest actions to community groups in order for them to create jobs or to propose the hiring of trainees to employers.

This maintains the present policy, which is not effective. Despite all the good will, despite the relative success of some federal or provincial programs, we realize that we do not have the expected results when we take into account all the money invested and all the skills called up in both the federal and provincial public services.

Why is that? It is not due to ill will or lack of skill; it is simply a matter of organization. Things are poorly organized, and in order to properly organize manpower training, to properly organize employment policies, there must be only one decision maker.

In Quebec, past and present governments, Liberal and PQ alike, unions and business owners' associations, everybody says unanimously that, considering the circumstances, considering the history, considering the needs, considering what is in place right now, it is the Government of Quebec that should have the responsibility for co-ordinating all these policies so that we can one day train our people properly and have a full employment policy that makes sense.

The bill before us means exactly the opposite. This bill says no. The consensus in Quebec is totally useless because a minister in Ottawa, the Minister of Human Resources Development, will have the power to develop programs and enter into agreements with provinces, municipalities, community groups, and individuals, implementing these programs in order to help Canadians get better training and better jobs.

By saying "to develop programs", we are referring to money, because, in the end, it is always a matter of money. In fact, there is always a relation between any given program and the funds allocated to it by the Minister of Finance. So, a proposal is being made to Canadians, even in my riding, where people voted-one mentioned that the sovereignists were defeated in the referendum, but it fact they received almost 50 per cent, or 49.4 per cent. In my riding, however, it was 71 per cent for Quebec's sovereignty. You cannot ignore 71 per cent of the population. My riding came third in Quebec, after the riding of my colleague for Charlevoix and the riding of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition. This is no mean feat.

In a sovereignist region like ours, people are still getting involved in the process, so they keep asking Quebec to fund certain programs and they request funding under some federal government programs. People know perfectly well that something must be done, in Quebec and Canada, as far as training and employment are concerned.

People are not as partisan as some others, and in any case-I am not sure this is parliamentary-people are not against the federal government's involvement, even though they may have very deep-rooted sovereignist convictions. People are concerned and ask themselves: Will there be someone, one day, to make a decision and give us employment policies which are worthwhile?

We do not see any hopeful sign coming from the government side. We do not see any in the area of manpower and, as we have

seen this week during Question Period, we do not see any hopeful sign either in the area of constitutional reform.

I have the distinct impression that eventually, when the question is asked next time, people are going to give the answer that the Quebec sovereignist movement has been waiting for for so long. Why? In order to have effective policies and a state which is efficiently managed, so that its citizens get their money's worth. Taxpayers want effective programs. It is not by stepping on each others toes, as we are doing now, that we will get valid manpower and employment policies.

I hope that the House will support the motion from my colleague from Mercier and that this bill will be sent into oblivion as quickly as possible.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on debate, but I also want to embellish my fan club member from Simcoe Centre. He does well to applaud before because he may not applaud after he hears what I have to say.

After reading the title of the bill, we realize it is just another piece of legislation, typically dry, typically complicated. It is easy in that context to lose sight of what the bill is about. Bill C-96, which I am happy to address for a few minutes, does just one single thing. It has a very simple and single purpose, and that purpose is integration.

My friend from Crowfoot would understand all about integration. Any party that can get the member for Simcoe Centre and the member for Crowfoot at the same caucus table understands integration, I submit.

I would also like to emphasize to my colleagues in the Bloc that this bill is about integration, and just that. It will consolidate the legal powers of the original departments in a single piece of legislation that is clear and coherent.

This is the only goal of this bill. It does not provide new powers or establish new programs. It does not add anything to or take anything away from the powers of the human resources development department.

This bill is merely an official document that puts the integration of social programs and labour market programs in Canada on a sound footing. That is important. But the underlying principle of this bill is even more important, that is the implementation of an integrated approach to human resources development in the new department.

I recognize that my friend from Mercier has an amendment to which technically we are speaking right now. That is another debate. This is really about bringing together a number of functions that heretofore had been under the umbrella of several departments of government.

I say to my friend from Port Moody-Coquitlam who spoke a few minutes ago in this debate that we have to make up our minds about what we want. I heard critics of the government at one point talk about duplication of effort, doing several things, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Then when we come up with what I believe is an absolutely laudable effort under Bill C-96 to bring together some functions, so we do not have that kind of duplication, we are accused of just shuffling the chairs.

It is difficult to do the right thing? No, it is not difficult to do the right thing, but it is difficult to be seen to be doing the right thing if somebody has a cliché to cover every situation, even if some of the clichés are mutually exclusive. Which are we doing: are we unnecessarily duplicating effort, or are we just shuffling the chairs?

I listened with interest to her speech, as I did to the speech of my friend from Jonquière, who I always enjoy. We do not always agree, but he has a real ability to state his argument in a very reasoned way. I have always admired his ability to do so.

I want to come back to my friend from Port Moody-Coquitlam. At one point in her speech she said something that was rather curious, about the bill's not having a royal recommendation. I wanted for the record to come back on that one. If she looked at the bill, she would realize that what she says is not true. It does have a royal recommendation. There are several proofs of that in the documentation she has in front of her. If she looked at the Order Paper for today, where Bill C-96 is listed, she will find a little "R" beside it. That means that this bill has a royal recommendation. If she does not believe my word, she should look at the bottom of the page, because it says at the bottom of the page "Recommended by the Governor General".

Or if she wanted to actually look at the bill, and far be it from me to suggest she did not look at the bill, her own words almost condemn her on this point. If she had taken the time to open the cover to page 1A, the very first page inside, the very first thing she would have seen would have been "Recommendation. His Excellency the Governor General recommends to the House of Commons", et cetera. That is the royal recommendation she says the bill does not have. I can only hope that the rest of her input was more informed, because that one was dead wrong.

With this bill the Department of Human Resources Development brings under one roof all of our efforts to help Canadians achieve

their full potential in our society and in our economy. Within a single department we are going to have programs and services under this bill that will help people who are looking for work find and hopefully keep jobs. It will help the employers find the people they need. It will provide services that will help both workers and employers under federal jurisdiction to maintain fair labour standards and a safe work environment.

It will provide services that will help people between jobs, Canadian seniors, families with low incomes, and people with disabilities to get the income support they need. We will have under this umbrella department services to help people get training and to develop new skills for an economy that is always changing. It will provide services that will help local businesses and communities and entire industries to target the skills of the future and build a skilled workforce to keep Canada competitive and prosperous in a changing world.

I think this integrated approach makes sense. It recognizes that in reality people do not neatly fall into tidy little categories. A young person looking for work may really need to get back to school first. She may also be a single mother and the lack of good child care support may prevent her from taking a course she needs. The person with a disability may be quite capable, willing, and eager to work, but also needs help meeting special medical costs. The older worker displaced by technology may need income support, but in the long run he or she needs help retooling and adapting to a new labour market.

By bringing all the different programs these people need into one department we have taken the first step toward making sure the programs work together to provide meaningful co-ordinated solutions for the real world. By taking that first step we set the stage for real integration in the way programs and services are delivered to Canadians. For example, employment and UI services used to be delivered through Canada Employment Centres. Canada pension plan and old age security and guaranteed income supplement services, which used to come from a separate department, were delivered through separate client service centres. Now we are bringing all these together in new human resources centres across the country.

Let us face it, when someone comes looking for a service they could not care less which particular program, branch, or department delivers that service. The last thing they need is to be sent running from one office to another to obtain those particular services. Combining those services in one location means reduced overhead, reduced administrative costs, and more importantly it means people getting better access, with one-stop shopping for all federal social security and labour market services. The ability to access those services under one roof on the part of the client is the real immediate benefit of the integration this bill provides for.

The new service delivery network the Department of Human Resources Development is developing goes a bit beyond that. It goes well beyond that. The new network will make a new kind of integrated service possible, one that is more flexible and responsive to changing needs and circumstances. A fundamental goal of this approach is to ensure that integration takes place at the local level by locating the decision making and even the design of services at the local level instead of highly centralized and compartmentalized programs dictated from a headquarters somewhere.

Ultimately each human resource centre would become an integral part of the community it serves. Decisions about what kinds of programs make sense in that community will be made in that community by the community. To make this work we have to completely rethink the way we define programs and services. We cannot say to communities across Canada here is a program and here are all the rules you have to follow, do it our way or not at all.

We cannot tell people: "We will enrol you in this program even if you do not need it because it is the only one we can afford".

We want to be able to tell communities and individuals: "Here are the basic tools that have proved useful. Here is the money and the resources that are available. It is up to you to decide which tools you want to use and how you can use those resources most effectively. You should not worry about the restrictions of the various programs. The only thing that matters is the task at hand".

We have developed an increasingly sophisticated and effective set of employment programs, a set of tools to help people develop new skills, gain work experience, and find jobs. Our challenge is to integrate these two components to build a single integrated employment system that people can turn to not just for a cheque but for help to get back into the workforce. This means finding a way to combine that essential system of income protection provided by UI with an effective active system of empowerment, a system that gives people the resources and the opportunity to make choices about the kinds of jobs they need, the kinds of skills that are required, the kind of future they want to build for themselves.

For example, we are experimenting with a form of internship with small businesses. These are companies that desperately want to hire new workers but cannot afford the training new workers require. With this program, we help them hire young people, older workers, women coming back into the workforce, and we provide some support to pay for the learning curve, the time it takes the workers to become fully productive in their new jobs. That experiment is already beginning to show some good results. Small businesses are creating permanent jobs for unemployed Canadians. That simply would not exist otherwise.

Let us look at another example. Over the past year we developed a program for self-employment under unemployment insurance so that people have a choice: rather than simply collecting benefits and waiting for a job to come around, they can create their own jobs. The department provides some financial support, mentoring and counselling to help participants get their businesses started. Over the past year 30,000 individuals have started up their own businesses through the unemployment insurance program. They have created not just 30,000 jobs, but 60,000. Not only are they helping themselves, they are helping other unemployed Canadians to get back to work.

That is the kind of thing that can happen when we stop thinking in terms of separate compartments and start thinking in terms of integration. By bringing together the full range of Canada's social and labour market programs, we are setting a new course and making a real difference in the lives of Canadians.

Bill C-96 provides the basis for this new direction. It ensures that the structure is in place for the federal government to continue bringing programs and services together, working with our partners in the provinces and communities across Canada.

As we debate all of the detailed clauses of the bill, let us not forget what the bill is about. It is about making this kind of integration possible. It provides Canadians with a future which is full of new possibilities. That is what the bill is about.

Implicitly the bill is not about several things. It is not about shuffling the chairs, as someone has said. It is about trying to eliminate the unnecessary duplication, unnecessary inconvenience for clients, Canadians across the country who demand and have a right to certain services from government. They demand and have a right to services which are provided at the least possible cost, in the most efficient manner and at the least inconvenience to the taxpayers.

The bill brings together various functions of other departments, including the Department of Health, the Secretary of State, the former department of labour, as well as the Department of Human Resources Development. The bill seeks to consolidate in a manner which gets a bigger bang for our buck. At the same time, it is not meant to underline the role of the provinces, as has been suggested. That is another debate for another time. This is simply a bringing together of several functions which have always pertained to the federal government and will continue to do so until some level of government decides otherwise.

Department Of Human Resources Development ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It being 1:48 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Business Of The HouseGovernment Orders

November 10th, 1995 / 1:45 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That the vote on Bill C-94, previously deferred until November 20, 1995, be further deferred to the conclusion of Government Orders on Tuesday, November 21, 1995, and that any recorded division which may be requested on Bill C-317 later this day be also deferred until the conclusion of Government Orders on Tuesday, November 21, 1995.

(Motion agreed to.)

The House resumed, from October 17, consideration of the motion that Bill C-317, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act (scabs and essential services), be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks with a quote by the present Minister for Human Resources Development who said, on November 23, 1994, in a letter he sent me: "I wish to inform you that I am presently examining all aspects of the Canada Labour Code, including the issue of limiting the use of replacement workers, with the view to updating and improving the code to bring it more into line with today's realities". We are now in November 1995, and we still have been given notice that this overhaul of the Canada Labour Code would take place.

In the meantime, a member of the Bloc proposed a private bill, which is before us today and which, in my opinion, makes good horse sense. There has been anti-scab legislation in Quebec since 1979. We have witnessed a 35 per cent decrease in labour disputes in Quebec since that date. This has led to decreased tension in labour relations, and has avoided very awkward situations that would have ended in unacceptable assaults.

To find out what occurred in Quebec before the adoption of anti-scab legislation, one need only remember the Ogilvie conflict. Unfortunately, this company came under the Canada Labour Code which contains no anti-scab provision, and that poisoned labour relations.

Learning from this experience, learning from what has been done in Quebec in this area, it would be very important for Parliament as a whole to pass this anti-scab legislation at second reading.

On October 17, 1995, the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell said that it was not appropriate to amend only one aspect of the Labour Code, that it was not the best way to proceed, and that the whole code should be revised. I recall last year's statement by the minister who said that we cannot wait forever for the government to act, if it does not take action. I believe that when a member chooses as a vehicle a private member's bill, and proposes an amendment which could improve Canadian legislation, it should be taken advantage of and that he should be given as much leeway as possible.

This kind of legislation, which will make it possible for all Canadian workers to be covered by anti-scab legislation, is something of a sign of respect for workers. In the past, gains were made by labour unions, and also by the population, in Quebec, for instance, where minimum working conditions are set out under legislation which is a bit like the collective agreement of non unionized workers. This is why, if we passed anti-scab legislation which covered federal civil servants as a whole, it would somewhat remedy an unacceptable situation. I think this could be compared to the minimum wage issue.

A few months ago, it was because the Bloc questioned the fact that the minimum hourly wage within the federal government was still four dollars that the government reacted, a few weeks later and rectified the situation by order in council. This is completely unacceptable.

Now we are faced with another situation in which the inaction of the present government and of preceding governments as well is perhaps more of an ideological choice. We have to remember that some of the members of this government voted in favour of the recent anti-scab legislation tabled in the House. A number of these people are now in cabinet, and it would be most inappropriate for them to vote against the present bill.

The advantage of such a private member's bill is that it does not necessarily require party solidarity. It will be a recorded division. So we will have an opportunity to see whether those in favour of anti-strikebreaking legislation a few years ago, who are now members of Parliament, will be consistent and let Canada give itself legislation that-I would like to say, will set the record straight-will give workers governed by the Canada Labour Code the same rights as Quebecers.

This is all the more important given the example we have just seen in Ontario.

The Government of Ontario decided to abolish this right. I believe that in the coming years we will witness disgraceful acts, bodily assaults; relations between employers and employees will grow more bitter and create all kinds of problems that the antiscab bill prevents.

To give a concrete example of this, one or two years ago in Quebec, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec had a favourable judgement from the Superior Court which would have allowed it to have the antiscab legislation quashed by the Supreme Court. We are not talking of a union here but of the Conseil du Patronat du Québec. They thought preferable not to take their case to the Supreme Court, even if they could have won in that instance, because they realised, in the time it took to get that judgment, that, in a majority of cases, antiscab legislation contributes to better labour relations.

Let us remember what happened as regards the definition of essential services. During the first few years, there were a few problems: what should be considered an essential service and who should define them? We used the experience we had gained so far to come up with the most adequate bill possible, in order to give the workers who come under the Canada Labour Code the opportunity to be properly covered and also to give the employers who are subject to this code the chance to enjoy better labour relations.

With an antiscab legislation, we will not have to deal in the future with so many situations as the one we had with the Ogilvie workers.

This is why I would ask members of this House to put their partisanship aside for the second reading of this bill and to determine if, given the way they perceive quality labour relations in the future, in the 20th century, it would not be better to pass this piece of legislation, to promote it internationally and to gain from Quebec's experience in that field?

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario


Jean Augustine LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I too rise today to speak on Bill C-317, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act to prohibit the use of replacement employees during a legal strike and to maintain essential services during a work stoppage at a crown corporation or in the public service.

I shall confine my remarks to those matters pertinent to the Canada Labour Code but I would like to say a few words about the Public Service Staff Relations Act.

As members opposite may know, it was under a Liberal government that federal government workers gained the right to strike. However, it was also recognized at that time, 1967, that the rights of federal government employees to strike could not be absolute.

There are health, safety and security considerations that come before the employees' rights to engage in job action.

As a result, the Public Service Staff Relations Act provides for the right to strike but it ensures that services which are essential to the health, safety and security of Canadians are maintained during a legal work stoppage. The act does this by permitting the employer to designate three months prior to the notice to bargain the positions that cannot go on strike because they are essential to the health, safety and security of the Canadian public.

In addition, the employer has no right to lock out employees under the provisions of the act. This approach is a reasonable one and it is not clear to me why the member across the way would want to change this.

I read very carefully the member's speech of June 15 when he discussed the intent and provisions of his bill. I really must question some of his exaggerated comments. For instance he says:

A strike broken by scabs is no strike but a right to strike hypocritically denied. Either we are for the right to strike, a basic right won by workers after many years of fighting, or we are against. If we are in favour, we will not undermine, either directly or indirectly, the workers' sacred right to strike-

Surely the member would agree with me that no right is absolute, let alone sacred. The Canadian citizenry, employers, managers, entrepreneurs and employees, all know there are limits to every right, including the right to strike. That is only common sense. Even the right to free speech is not absolute. To use a famous example, we do not have the right to scream "fire" in a crowded theatre. So it is with the right to strike. It too must have some limits.

I also note that in his speech the member referred a number of times to the three provinces, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, that have anti-replacement worker legislation. The member must be aware that as of last week only two provinces currently have such legislation.

I want to draw attention to the views of a distinguished authority on labour relations, Mr. Paul C. Weiler. For those who do not know this gentleman, he is a Canadian labour lawyer who at one time chaired the British Columbia Labour Relations Board. Under his guidance the British Columbia board was responsible for introducing a number of progressive innovations in labour relations. His work has been praised by neutral observers and union leaders alike.

Mr. Weiler is now teaching labour law at Harvard University. Recently he served as chief counsel to the U.S. Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. I am saying all this because I want to quote Mr. Weiler who wrote:

For employees who may have spent 20 years with a company building up a wealth of experience and seniority that can rarely be duplicated elsewhere, the stark reality is that if they do go on strike, they can be replaced by the company with people who, in less than 20 minutes on the job, gain permanent priority over the striking veterans.

Clearly the American practice is unacceptable, but while Mr. Weiler is strongly against the hiring of permanent replacement workers, he does not favour the Quebec solution. He speaks about this:

The type of alternative rule that I favour exists already in Ontario labour law, which grants lawful strikers a right to return to their jobs for a period of up to six months after the beginning of the work stoppage, even if their return will dislodge newly hired replacements.

He states unequivocally that he does not "favour adoption of the recent response of Quebec labour law to this problem" whereby the government "effectively requires employers to shut down at least the bulk of their operations because they are legally prohibited from using any non-managerial personnel to replace strikers".

I am not saying that I agree with everything Mr. Weiler has said, but I do think that the issue is not clear. If this highly regarded expert in industrial relations, as strong a supporter of the collective bargaining process as we will find anywhere, does not favour a ban on the use of replacements, then I as a federal member concerned with the interests of the country as a whole must proceed cautiously and thoughtfully on this question and be open to the arguments and concerns of both sides.

Labour law is about balance among other things. We need to balance the rights of workers with the rights of employers. We need to balance equity concerns with growth concerns. As national legislators we must be interested in policies that increase democracy at work and give greater protection to workers and in policies that encourage the efficient management of enterprises. We must also be sure that we know the priorities of the workers.

There are a number of issues of concern to workers on matters related to labour standards, occupational safety and health, employment equity and industrial relations. These issues are best dealt with through the consultation process involved in a comprehensive and careful review of the federal labour code.

The member across the way I am sure knows that such a review is presently under way in the House. It is a timely undertaking since a complete review of part I of the Canada Labour Code has not been done in over two decades.

Since last winter federal government officials have been having discussions with labour, management, academics and others. The review is now in the capable hands of a task force headed by Andrew Sims, former chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, a man well qualified to lead the task force. Rodrigue Blouin from

Laval University, and Paula Knopf, a Toronto based mediator, are the other members of this task force.

The task force is mandated to look into a number of critical labour relations issues including those raised by the member in his bill. I have considerable confidence in the task force and I might add in the Commission of Inquiry on Labour Relations at West Coast Ports. Both are comprised of very knowledgeable, dedicated and highly regarded experts who I am sure will have important things to say on labour relations.

I agree with those who argue that once we have had a chance to study and discuss the findings and analyses and the recommendations of these two groups, we will be in a much better position to decide on the questions that concern the member and indeed all of us in this House.

I want to make one point before I conclude. The review of the Canada Labour Code is taking place while the Canadian workforce is in the midst of profound transformation. We need to take account of new computer technology among other factors transforming our workplace. The emphasis is now on flattened hierarchies, decentralized decision making, flexible production systems, work teams, high quality products and services and continuous learning.

Labour has generally not shown opposition to technological change. However, with the pressures which come to bear on us as Canadian legislators it is important and fortunate for us to have this discussion in the House.

It seems to me that because this change is occurring, reform to the federal law should be studied very carefully. We would not be doing anyone any favours by acting in an imprudent and precipitous manner.

Whatever the merits of the member's bill, those who have been telling the member to wait until the court review is completed are right. It seems to me to be common sense that we wait on those results.