Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-340.
When the member opposite talks about pregnant and nursing mothers, she is talking about a subject that the government takes very seriously. I want to assure her that the government shares her concern for the well-being of women who are pregnant or nursing. We welcome her interest in this matter.
While we have a shared interest in protecting pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace, we feel that the kind of changes proposed to the Canada Labour Code in Bill C-340 are premature.
The protection of women in the workplace, and especially of pregnant and nursing mothers, is a complex area of social policy. It involves occupational safety and health legislation, matters of workplace standards, the judgments of medical professionals, and, ultimately, the personal decisions of individual women.
To better understand the legislative situation, it is helpful first to remember that the Canada Labour Code, which Bill C-340 proposes to amend, applies only to employees working under federal jurisdiction.
Examples are transportation and communication sectors, banks and other industries that are under federal jurisdiction. While this includes many large organizations, industries under federal jurisdiction actually account for only about 10% of employees in Canada.
In other words, 90% of the working population are governed by provincial or territorial labour legislation.
In this regard, provincial or territorial governments are free to introduce whatever measures they deem to be appropriate for their jurisdictions.
We also need to look at--