Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mackenzie for giving the government a chance to respond to this matter because it is a very important subject.
First it is a matter of taking stock. Public Works and Government Services Canada concluded a contract with Fuller Construction, the principal contractor in the Peace Tower restoration project. Therefore, this department must ensure the quality of the work being done on the Peace Tower and that the work done by Fuller Construction, the general contractor, meets very high standards.
The issue raised by the member for Mackenzie concerns a dispute between two subcontractors working on the project, Pro-Tech Building Restoration and Colonial Building Restoration. The dispute, based on the non-payment of wages and harassment, has resulted in Pro-Tech being removed from the job by Colonial. An employee of Pro-Tech, Ms. Ann Raney, has made allegations of gender discrimination.
In this matter, the government has a contractual link with Fuller Construction only, whereas the dispute involves the two subcontractors: Pro-Tech and Colonial. Public Works therefore has no direct involvement with the subcontractors working on the project.
However, the contract with Fuller Construction, like any other major work contract, includes an anti-discrimination clause. As I said before, Public Works Canada's contract specifications do not permit discrimination in hiring in the workplace.
As the general contractor, Fuller is responsible for settling this dispute.
I am pleased to inform the House that progress is being made and that the general contractor has taken steps to ensure that a solution is reached in the very near future. Both parties have agreed in principle to resolve the alleged discrimination issue through a third party independent arbitrator. Until the issue is resolved, the party alleged to have harassed has been removed from the job by Fuller.
The member for Mackenzie also raised the question about ownership of the tools. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. On August 18, 1995, tools worth $5,000 were taken from the site. These tools remain in the hands of the Ottawa-Carleton police.
I would like to assure members of the House that complaints of the nature raised by Ms. Raney are taken very seriously by the minister of public works. His department does not tolerate harassment or discrimination.