Mr. Speaker, aside from saying that the NDP is not surprising anyone with its usual rhetorical lines, supporting regional rates of pay is not difficult to understand. The striking blue collar workers want one rate across Canada.
That would make it inequitable for many in the process. It would mean excessive income for some in certain areas while others would be underpaid in other areas. That is simply not fair.
The government has offered blue collar workers contracts in line with what it has provided other public servants in negotiated settlements while paying wages that reflect local market realities. In fact, 87% of PSAC has negotiated settlement. We believe in the negotiated settlement approach and collective bargaining.
The government has offered to reduce the number of regions where different rates apply from ten to seven. That is fair. If the government were to pay Vancouver rates to blue collar workers in Halifax, imagine the outcry. Small business would be competing for needed workers, not just the federal government but the corporations rich enough to match the higher rates. That would disrupt the local labour market.
Why do we pay higher wages in Vancouver? Quite simply, the cost of living on the west coast is much higher. Consider housing prices alone.
By paying regional rates, the federal government contributes to social and economic stability across Canada. That is why we should simply return to the central issue, passing a bill to end a strike that is hurting Canadians and threatening the trade so vital to our economy, exporters, grain producers, the many Canadians who desperately need their income tax refunds, et cetera. This government has responsibilities to ensure all Canadians work.