House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was american.


Business of the HousePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-340, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale Ontario


Gurbax Malhi LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we also need to look at parts II and III of the Canada Labour Code. Part II relates to occupational safety and health and part III governs labour standards.

Members of the House will recall the extensive consultations and discussions on protecting the safety and health of pregnant and nursing women in the workplace that led to recent amendments to part II of the Canada Labour Code.

At that time the House approved a new section in part II of the Canada Labour Code, section 132, to improve protection for pregnant or nursing women.

Section 132 states that a pregnant or nursing woman who believes her job creates a risk for her or for the fetus or child has the right to stop doing her job and can take the necessary time with pay to consult her physician to ascertain if she really is at risk.

Under section 132, the employee is entitled to receive all the benefits and wages attached to her job until she obtains a medical certificate supporting her claim.

If it is determined that a woman should not remain at work because of health risks to herself, her fetus or nursing child, she is then entitled to protection under part III of the code, the section that sets out standards and employer obligations in the workplace.

On maternity related measures, for example, part III sets out specific protection for pregnant or nursing mothers. For example, part III requires the employer to modify the employee's working conditions or to reassign her to another job if she is deemed to be at risk.

If neither of these options are available, then the employee is entitled to leave and whatever financial support would be related to that leave status.

Based on practical experience, most women under the federal jurisdiction have access to salary replacement through employment insurance and/or private insurance schemes when they take this leave.

In other words, the Canada Labour Code now includes comprehensive measures to ensure safe and healthy working environments for pregnant and nursing mothers. In addition, it provides for leave and it allows for access to financial compensation for the pregnant or nursing mother who is deemed to be at risk in the workplace.

Bill C-340 asks us to change the federal law so that pregnant or nursing employees under federal jurisdiction in a province would be entitled to have their personal circumstances dealt with according to the laws of the province and not under the Canada Labour Code.

It is important to note that the province of Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has a program for pregnant and nursing mothers that differs fundamentally from the federal standard. Thus, the practical effect of the bill would be to create a different system for employees under federal jurisdiction in Quebec as compared with the rest of the country.

Changes like this could have implications for labour legislation throughout Canada. When the member opposite proposes we use federal law to influence labour policy at the provincial level, she is entering into an area of constitutional complexity.

Speaking for the federal government, we have to look at what is in the best interests of the country overall. This means being willing to look at the potential to work co-operatively with the provinces and territories so that new proposals can be broadly explored.

Our successful experience in other areas of social policy, such as the national children's agenda and improvements in programs to support children and families throughout Canada, illustrates what is possible when we keep an open mind.

These examples show the positive value of working co-operatively to improve the lives of Canadians. They also illustrate that the federal government is willing to discuss and implement new ideas that will benefit all Canadians. Indeed, the government is always interested in looking at new ideas that will improve the lives of Canadians.

In the case of pregnant or nursing mothers, perhaps there are some useful lessons to be learned from Quebec's experience in the area of social policy but we need to look at that experience much more carefully before we can vote for the kind of fundamental change proposed in Bill C-340.

While we welcome the member's ideas, we suggest that the bill is premature and needs a great deal more work.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today on behalf of my party to speak to Bill C-340, a bill that seeks to amend the Canada Labour Code to allow pregnant and nursing employees to take advantage of provincial occupational health and safety legislation.

Right off the bat I will congratulate my colleague, the member for Laurentides, on having her bill chosen for debate. I know this is something she has worked very hard on for quite a while and something for which she feels very passionate. This particular area has been an interest of hers for quite some time.

Members in the House come from many various backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, and certainly have different philosophies. We do not always agree on policy. However, the one thing I think we all share in common is the fact that we all had mothers and we all share the concern over the safety and health of expectant and nursing mothers.

A few months ago part II of the Canada Labour Code was amended. It was under that review that the committee was studying the proposed amendments and heard witnesses from Quebec who, like the hon. member for Laurentides, supported change to the federal legislation that would bring in line the standards in the province of Quebec.

As previous speakers have noted, pregnant and nursing mothers in Quebec can obtain a reassignment of their duties if the working conditions are hazardous to the mother, the fetus or the nursing child. The employee in Quebec has the right to cease work without the loss of rights or benefits if the employee is not reassigned.

Under part II of the Canada Labour Code, a pregnant or nursing employee may stop performing her job if she believes the health of the child is at risk. She is required to consult a physician as soon as possible but in the interim can be either reassigned or, if a reassignment is not possible, can receive the wages and benefits she would ordinarily be entitled to receive for that period during which she did not perform the job. I think this is a reasonable provision if the worker is first removed from her job if there is a health related concerned and her wages and benefits are protected.

This bill, however, would give the federally regulated employees the right to “avail herself” of the regulations in place for workers in the province in which she works. Does this mean the worker can cherry pick from the program of her choosing? Until or unless the federal government gives complete control of this area to the provinces, the federal law, in my opinion, must prevail.

Quebec seems to be the only province with this type of program. As the hon. member will be given a chance to wind up the debate with a five minute summation, I would like her to answer a few questions for me. How will the bill help pregnant and nursing mothers in other parts of Canada other than Quebec where there is no such provincial legislation that states a mother can choose from or, as the member says, avail herself of?

Could the member for Laurentides address how well this program is working in the province of Quebec? I listened to her comments when she said that we should not ask her what the program costs because it was an investment. I would like her to let us know how much this program does cost in Quebec.

We could probably debate for the rest of this session the advantages and payoffs that would come from proper health and safety for expectant mothers and their babies. I would still like to know what this costs the provincial treasury in the province of Quebec, as well as the employers. The employers obviously have to be partners in a situation like this as well.

I would also like to know how many expectant or nursing mothers take advantage of the program on an annual basis.

What are the criteria? What types of situations are covered? Such a program, while nice to have, has to have an expense to it. It has to be fairly expensive, I think, to operate and to administer.

I would also like the member to explain to the House who pays for the program and what, if any, are the premiums? Does the working mother have to pay a premium into a fund? Is it some kind of insurance? Does it all come out of the employer's pocket? How does it work?

Has the hon. member for Laurentides, and I am sure she has, done an analysis or obtained estimates of how much the program would cost to implement on a national basis?

Does she have any intention of spreading the idea that they have in Quebec across to the other provinces and territories? If so, I wonder how she would go about doing it.

It is fine to cherry pick from this situation or from the provincial legislation but if there is no legislation in, say, Saskatchewan, British Columbia or the Northwest Territories, then the bill would really be of no effect to the people who live in those other areas until such provincial legislation is passed. I see the bill as strictly being relevant to people, expectant mothers and so forth, in the provinces of Quebec.

Until jurisdiction for labour is placed solely under a provincial jurisdiction, I believe the federal law must prevail.

There will be another opportunity, as the member opposite has mentioned, to review this issue when part III of the Canada Labour Code is amended. We have been waiting for some time to see if there will be amendments and I am convinced there will be, probably later this year.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-340 on behalf of the NDP caucus. As the labour critic for our party I sat with the member for Laurentides for months as we reviewed part II of the Canada Labour Code. I can personally attest to the hard work that was done by the hon. member for Laurentides in trying to get this issue to the forefront of the national agenda or even onto the table of the national agenda. She demonstrated a great deal of compassion and was a very good advocate on behalf of working women everywhere in this country in the degree of passion she demonstrated for the issue.

The hon. member pointed out in her speech that this issue has been before the House of Commons for a decade or more. This is not new to today's debate nor was it new when we debated Bill C-12 or Bill C-19, the amendments to the Canada Labour Code that we have dealt with recently. She points out that as long ago as 1990 there was a motion before the House of Commons where like-minded people argued aggressively that the workplace was changing and that we had a duty to accommodate those changes and certainly to accommodate the growing number of women in the workforce.

We have finally reached equality, virtually, in terms of the labour market share. We have not reached equality in the labour market conditions for women. Women might make up 50% of the workforce, but they have not achieved equality in terms of compensation or the terms and conditions of their employment or the accommodation of the special circumstances facing women in the workforce, such as perhaps one of the most obvious, the issue of pregnant and nursing mothers.

When the bill was brought before the House I expected a higher degree of sensitivity for this issue from the other members of the House of Commons. I am appalled, frankly, at the lack of sensitivity demonstrated, especially by the spokesperson for the government side.

We believe, and the point was well made by the member for Laurentides, that we have a duty and an obligation to strive to achieve the highest common denominator in this country. If the federal legislation is to be considered a national standard, we then have an obligation to seek out the best conditions in the country, not to sink to the lowest conditions in any aspect of labour legislation. In the case of the province of Quebec, it has had the foresight, the political capital, I suppose, to achieve an element of fairness that goes beyond what we enjoy in the federal jurisdiction.

Therefore, it is only fair, and in the interests and the well-being of the people living in a jurisdiction where the terms of employment provincially exceed the terms of employment enjoyed in the federal jurisdiction, that a person should have the right to avail himself or herself of the terms that are more favourable for the worker, especially in the instance of a pregnant or nursing mother.

This should be one thing that we can all feel generous enough in our hearts to allow. Perhaps it could then serve as an example of how we might harmonize the jurisdictional differences in the workforce on other issues as well. However, we could start here. I argue it was a missed opportunity when we reviewed part II of the Canada Labour Code. We dropped the football in this case because we had a chance to introduce an element of fairness into the Canada Labour Code and we chose not to. It was not for lack of trying because the amendments were made at both stages where amendments are possible in the development of the bill. The hon. member worked very hard.

The only argument that was put forward by the Liberal side as to why it cannot support the bill was the weak and tired old warhorse that it is somehow a unity issue. Not only is that untrue in this case, but I believe it is 180° opposite from the truth.

Let us think of the example of a worker, a pregnant or nursing mother living in the province of Quebec who availed herself of the possibility of opting out of a certain workplace because she thought it was unsafe. If that happens we will have created two classes of worker in the province of Quebec. We might have two sisters who live in houses next door to each other, one who works for the province of Quebec under Quebec jurisdiction and the other who works for the federal government under federal jurisdiction. They live in the same city, in the same community. One will now be given full compensation for the period of time she has off and the other will be penalized by getting 55% of her income just because she works for the federal government instead of the province of Quebec. That would breed hostility. That would breed disunity. That would cause animosity among the working women in the province of Quebec.

If the only argument that can be raised here is the fact that it is somehow a unity issue or a constitutional or jurisdictional issue, let me say that in fact it is unnecessarily creating an environment of hostility and resentment among the working women of Quebec. We do a lot of things differently in our dealings with the province of Quebec. Even if for the time being the only advantage to this small amendment would be for the working women of Quebec, why is that a reason not to do it, if it introduces an element of fairness for those people?

It would also have the effect of pulling up the conditions in the other provinces, those provinces that are not fortunate enough to have such good terms and conditions. Were this in place, the best terms would have primacy, or in other words we would always gravitate to the highest common denominator and it would pull the other provinces along. We would then really be using federal legislation to its highest purpose, I believe, which is to elevate the standards right across the country from coast to coast.

Anyone who speaks against the motion is speaking for the status quo, which I believe is patently unfair. The status quo penalizes pregnant and nursing women when they opt for the right to refuse dangerous work, work that is dangerous either to themselves or to the fetus. We believe this is the only example in which when workers use their right to refuse unsafe work they suffer any kind of monetary setback. Why is it we have selected pregnant and nursing women to be the only group of workers who, when they exercise the right to refuse unsafe work, suffer a monetary penalty? That is unfair. I presume that is why the province of Quebec decided many years ago to change that situation: because it is patently unfair when these women are doing something that is best for their babies.

It borders on negligence to first open up the workforce so that more women are taking part and then not accommodate or take every step to accommodate women in the workplace. Out of ten provinces and three territories one province chose to rectify that and to remedy that unfairness. We believe that should stand as the highest common denominator and it should have primacy over any lesser piece of legislation as it affects working women.

Therefore I speak strongly in favour of Bill C-340 and I thank the member for Laurentides for giving us the opportunity to have the debate. I regret that it is only a debate. It should be a vote. It could have been an important first step to introduce an element of fairness into the working conditions in the Canadian workforce which we forgot to do, we neglected to do. No, we did not forget to do it: we chose not to be fair in this case and it is to our great shame.

We are given the opportunity to fix that today. Some members of the House are speaking against remedying that. I suppose they will have to defend their stance and be judged in some higher place than this.

In closing I would say that in other areas of legislation, in other contracts and in other legal documents, there are things called non-derogation clauses. In other words, nothing in the work we are doing today should erode what the person currently enjoys. Not having an amendment like that in Bill C-340 has the same effect as derogating the terms and conditions of employment that Quebec women currently enjoy. By going into the federal civil service or any federally regulated jurisdiction, they will diminish the rights that have already been created in their home province. We have an obligation to respect, acknowledge and allow people in Quebec to have those rights that they have earned.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

November 6th, 2001 / 1:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of our party to have a few words to say on Bill C-340, which proposes an amendment to section 132 of the Canada Labour Code. Section 132 of the Canada Labour Code was an item we dealt with in the House a year or so ago when there was a major revision or updating of the Canada Labour Code. It deals with the right of a pregnant worker or a nursing mother at work to remove herself from a hazardous situation in the workplace.

It is very difficult to understand how anyone could vote against the bill, against motherhood. It is not a votable motion, but to speak against this kind of bill is absolutely mind-boggling.

It allows for a woman in such a position to be transferred to a safer position in the workplace and sets out the terms and conditions under which she might obtain fair compensation if she had to withdraw from a very hazardous situation in the workplace.

Obviously it is only fair and compassionate to err on the side of safety when it comes to the health of an unborn infant or a newborn infant who is still nursing. Radiation or chemical pollutants that may be in doses acceptable to an adult may cause very severe harm to and problems for a child in the womb or a newborn infant still dependent upon the mother's milk.

As a strong supporter of life and family issues, I therefore have no hesitation in supporting section 132 in that it provides a woman with options other than quitting her employment.

However, Bill C-340 takes the issue a step further in that it makes provision for a woman covered in section 132 to apply for provincial benefits instead of the relevant federal benefits. That would obviously be beneficial to the woman in the case where provincial benefits are better for the woman or more generous than those that may be offered through federal legislation under section 132.

Bill C-340 is sponsored by a Quebec member and it is no secret that Quebec has some of the most progressive and generous family benefits in the western world. Being a supporter of these benefits I would agree with a provision that provides a pregnant woman or a nursing mother with the best possible package of benefits if she has to withdraw from a hazardous situation in the workplace.

Proposed subsection 132.1(2) would allow a woman to apply for provincial benefits and also indicates that the relevant provincial agency may refuse the application, in other words, opting for provincial benefits is certainly not automatic but the right to apply would be guaranteed. Proposed subsection 132.1(3) would guarantee that the application must be processed by the provincial authority under normal rules.

Proposed subsection 132.1(4) reaffirms the right of a female worker to avail herself of provincial benefits and remedies if she is approved for them by the relevant provincial authority.

Proposed subsection 132.1(5) allows for the establishment of federal-provincial agreements to regularize the terms and conditions wherein a female worker under federal jurisdiction could opt for provincial benefits. That is standard practice in a federal state. Such agreements allow for the seamless application of rights gained at the federal level but delivered at the provincial level.

Finally, proposed subsection 132.1(6) allows for the exercise of provincial benefits under section 132 without prejudice to any other rights and responsibilities under the Canada Labour Code.

In short, Bill C-340 would allow a female employee to have access to the most generous package available for the protection of her unborn or recently born child. We in the PC Party have no hesitation in supporting the bill.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:45 p.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-340, as moved by the hon. member for Laurentides. She had no difficulty at all securing my support for her bill.

I think it is a matter of pure common sense. We in Quebec believe it is about common sense, because for several years now, all women in this province, except those under federal jurisdiction, are covered by a loss of income program with respect to precautionary cessation of work or nursing in situations that may be dangerous to their own health or that of the child.

I thought this was self-evident. I was a little surprised the first time the hon. member mentioned this to me, saying it did not apply, because there was no legislation allowing it.

I have listened to the hon. members from the various parties in the House and was especially pleased to hear the Alliance member say that he will support the bill, even though he asked several questions. I gather my colleague will answer at least part of these questions, with the exception possibly of those requiring specific amounts, but we will see. I know she studied the matter very extensively.

I sensed agreement in principle in my colleague from the Canadian Alliance, and I am delighted with it, as well as with the support of the representatives of the other parties, including the NDP and the Progressive Conservative Party/Democratic Representative Caucus Coalition.

As for my colleague from the Liberal Party, who is of course entitled to speak in this House, he spoke on behalf of the government. We have heard his arguments. As far as prudence is concerned, the need for caution, because other provinces do not apply a measure similar to Quebec's as far as preventive withdrawal, I would like to take a few minutes to say that I am a bit astonished by this position.

In Quebec, even where areas of Quebec jurisdiction are involved, we find, and complain very regularly here about it, that the federal government is invading areas of jurisdiction that are exclusive to the provinces. In this case, it is not a matter of invading a jurisdiction, but allowing the provinces to solve a problem. I think that the federal government has a duty to set an example to the provinces, not in the sense of obliging them to action, but at least to removing constraints.

I hope to convince my colleague, who spoke on behalf of the government, that this is a premature measure. The hon. member for Laurentides reminded the House that this was the case for this bill, as did other colleagues who spoke to the amendments to measures contained in other bills. Each time, it was greeted with interest. But in the end, it never translated into any real legislation.

Given this fact, the member for Laurentides—and I would like to congratulate her—proposed a bill to provide the government with an opportunity to take action on the issue, because it had been forgotten, even though this measure seemed acceptable to many government members.

As we know, the standing orders were changed regarding the designation of certain bills as votable or non-votable. This bill was not designated votable, which is a real shame.

I know that the member for Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, a young member of this House, has often said that parliament must not only be a place where people speak, it should also be a place where people are consulted, and where people make decisions.

I know that he would agree with me when I say that, despite the member for Laurentides' wonderful initiative, the time we spend here discussing this bill, if we follow the logic or the rules of the House, is just that: time to debate it.

Indeed, the government does give us a lot of time to debate, but not very much time to decide, and seldom the opportunity to vote. It is all fine and dandy to debate, but we hardly ever get to decide or vote anymore.

When I explain this to my constituents, they tell me that they thought our role was more important than that. They also tell us “We are confident in your power of persuasion, and in that of a number of your colleagues, and we hope that through it, things will change”. That is why we talk, because we hope to be able to change things.

My message to the government representative is as follows. I know him somewhat and I know that his ideas are usually open. He is known to be interested in social issues in his riding. It was surely with no great pleasure that he agreed to read a speech prepared by the officials of the Department of Transport, probably. I trust that he could change his mind and help the government change its mind too, so that, in the future at least, this parliament is not just a platform for private members' business.

Members take time to formulate a bill and to draft it, with the help of the legal advisors here. They consult their community and experts in a given field, as the member for Laurentides did, and so this should be a votable item.

I would appreciate it if it could be. In the minute I have left, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to have this bill, which seems to be positively received by everyone, made votable. If we could vote, it could go to committee, witnesses would be heard and all questions could be answered, including those of the Alliance member, who wants more detailed information. At second reading, after an agreement in principle, he could vote for it or against it.

I therefore request unanimous consent to have Bill C-340 introduced by the member for Laurentides made votable.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have just a few minutes left. It is a very short time and it is also sad because ultimately this debate will not take place.

However, I wish to thank the members of the other parties and of the Canadian Alliance, which showed an open-mindedness I was not expecting. I congratulate the members of this party. It was very important for me to have the opportunity to debate this bill. I congratulate the members of the New Democratic Party, and my Progressive Conservative colleagues, who showed themselves to be very open-minded as well.

Some of the things that have been said by the government in this House are incredible. When we are told that this concerns only 10% of Canadian women, that is already too many. It is unbelievable that we would be told something so ridiculous, that it is not serious because only 10% of the population is affected. It is time to wake up and smell the coffee.

The government approves legislation, and talks about progressive legislation and being open-minded. It is approving bills to legalize marijuana, but it cannot allow women to remain healthy through a pregnancy, to give birth to a healthy child and to ensure that that child will enter the world without harm to itself or its mother.

I even saw a female member opposite object to having this bill made a votable item. This is incredible. I cannot believe it. I cannot believe that the government would engage in petty politics, in cheap partisan politics when dealing with such an important bill.

The hon. member asked questions and I will reply to him in writing. I will not give up on this bill. I can assure members of this House that this issue will be brought back. Pressure will be put on the government, because there are young women who want healthy children. There are young women working in the prison system who are fed up with having to go to court to say that their work endangers their pregnancy.

It does not make sense for a pregnant woman working in the jail system to be followed by a family doctor from the beginning of her pregnancy only to be told by a doctor from Health Canada, a doctor who does not even know her and is not familiar with her file, “No you are not entitled to preventive withdrawal”. It is unacceptable that such a situation still exists in 2001.

I was asked if there were costs associated with this measure. Costs are not an issue when it comes to giving birth to a healthy child, to ensuring a normal birth. They are not an issue when it comes to the health of the mother who must raise her child for the rest of her life.

I can assure hon. members that we will bring this issue back in the House. The government will only have itself to blame. It was up to the Liberals to agree to make this bill a votable item and to accept the amendments that I proposed regarding Bill C-12. We worked really hard for days to amend the bill and also to follow up on the government's requests. We compromised on a lot of things, but we will never compromise when it comes to ensuring that women can give birth to healthy children. Costs are not an issue when it comes to that.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

Veterans WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is the one week of the year that all of us from every party and political persuasion stand and declare a common cause by performing a simple act: the wearing of the scarlet poppy in honour of our fallen veterans, in honour of the 69,000 Canadians slain in the first world war, the 47,000 slain in the second world war and the 516 slain in Korea.

As hon. members know, the theme of this year's Veterans Week is “In the Service of Peace” and so we must also speak of our peacekeeping veterans. In the past we have sent them, often unarmed and outnumbered, to serve the cause of peace. Danger and death were never very far away. A hundred and thirteen peacekeepers have paid the ultimate sacrifice, yet Canadians continue to serve the world over with much deserved pride and distinction.

Today we thank those who served the cause of peace with such honour throughout our history from the bottom of our hearts.

Softwood LumberStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, softwood lumber duties are hurting the people of Yellowhead. Thousands of people in my riding work in lumber mills, logging, trucking and supportive industries. They live in places like Edson, Hinton, Whitecourt and Drayton Valley, just to name a few.

As Jeffrey Simpson put it today, softwood lumber is the spine of dozens of communities. They very seldom get on the evening news or the front pages of urban papers.

The federal government should have been more forward looking and aggressive on this issue. If it had been a central Canadian industry like the automobile industry or the aerospace industry, we would have witnessed a much stronger response by the government.

Winter is coming and thousands of workers in my riding are facing the prospect of unemployment. Their families and the communities in which they live will also suffer. The government needs to show the softwood lumber industry the same interest, care and intensity as it has for other Canadian industries.

Prayer for PeaceStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Sunday Bill Wilson, a member of our congregation, offered the following prayer that I would like to share with the House. It expresses the thoughts of many Canadians:

Today we pray for the men and women of our armed services as Canada becomes actively involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. We pray also that as Christian people we might hear and consider the words of the leaders of our churches that this crisis is not a war between the Christian and Moslem religions. Grant to our political leaders the wisdom to pursue justice not revenge in the knowledge that no cause is served by violence against the innocent. We pray for all who have become the tragic victims of acts of war and for their families and loved ones. Bring in the day, merciful God, when innocent lives will no longer be sacrificed on the altars of revenge, ethnic cleansing and religious fanaticism.

O Lord, our helper and defender, rescue the people of the world from destructive anger and set us free to live in peace and serve each other in a world in which the evils of the past shall have been overcome.

Asbestos Region Hospital CentreStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to draw to the attention of the House a wonderful example of volunteerism in the riding of Frontenac--Mégantic.

Thanks to the dedication of two great volunteers in particular, the foundation's president, Henri Therrien, and the honorary president of the fundraising campaign, Donat Grenier, the Fondation of the Asbestos region hospital centre, or Centre hospitalier de la région de l'Amiante, has not only attained its fundraising objective, it has raised more than double that amount.

With the co-operation and generosity of all the people of the asbestos region, these dedicated gentlemen have raised an incredible $2,174,536. This money is earmarked for the continuing development of the CHRA, the delivery of care to the people of the region, recruiting specialists, and acquiring nuclear medicine equipment. As a result, our reputation as one of the best equipped regional hospitals in Quebec will be maintained.

This is a great example of courage and generosity in a region that takes everyone's health to heart. In our region, the slogan is “I give to the local hospital, and some day it will give back to me”.

FirefightersStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I offer my most heartfelt congratulations to the York North firefighters on receiving the Governor General's Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal: Greg Lockie, Carl Sarasin, Rick Walker, Roger Kett, Ken Bellar, Bill O'Neill, Bill Marritt, Dave Harding, John Rush, Dean Sinclair, George Egerton, Gord Rolling, Antony Caruso, Ken Foster, Joe Kearns, Terry Foster, George Green, Doug Thompson, Ted Wernham, Ken Beckert, Arnold Smith, Russel Foster and John Moffatt.

I thank them very much for their outstanding commitment to their communities and to their fellow citizens.

Illicit DrugsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, the use of the dangerous drug Ecstasy has become all too common among young people today. The drug is more dangerous than previously thought. Its effects on the brain are cumulative, causing depression, problems with memory and sleep, and symptoms that reoccur spontaneously in later years.

Since 1998 five B.C. youths died from Ecstasy overdoses. Tragically two more youths died in October from an apparent deadly batch of Ecstasy.

In 1990 Prime Minister Mulroney signed the UN convention to regulate the sale of chemicals used to make such designer drugs. The Liberal government has been dragging its feet now for years refusing to put in place the legislation necessary to control the sale of Ecstasy's chemical ingredients. The Prime Minister has yet to honour this treaty commitment.

Without the laws necessary to regulate and prosecute the manufacture and traffic of designer drugs our police cannot stop their use. Canadian municipalities are spending millions of dollars in the struggle to fight these illicit drugs.

How many of our youths will die waiting for the government to act? The government owes it to Canadian youth to act now.

Centrinity Inc.Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, Maclean's magazine has just come out with an article featuring the top 100 Canadian employers. One of them is Centrinity Inc. in my riding.

Centrinity is a global leader in next generation communication platforms for enterprises, educational institutions and government agencies. Headquartered in Richmond Hill, the company also has offices in Sweden, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Since its inception in 1989 Centrinity has been committed to developing future proof and cost effective technology that enables its customers and partners to break free of traditional communication barriers and work on their own terms. Its technology links user's phone, fax and e-mail enabling it to increase its productivity, break free of information overload and minimize costs by accessing its information via any device anytime, anywhere.

I congratulate Centrinity on its significant achievement and the 180 employees, officers and board of directors on their contributions to making their company a top Canadian employer.

Airline IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, after employment insurance, the federal government has simply decided to dump all of the seasonal workers in our regions. Now the Minister of Transport is jumping on the same bandwagon.

Last week, he clearly announced that he did not plan to be providing any assistance to regional air carriers. Yet the assistance that has gone to the major carriers will help out their regional subsidiaries, which are in competition with the small regional carriers.

Unfortunately, the latter have been greatly affected by the economic downturn experienced since September 11. In my riding, for example, Air Alma is one of the companies overlooked in the Minister of Transport's assistance plan. Yet Air Alma makes a vital contribution to the development of the Saguenay--Lac-Saint-Jean area.

The way the federal government has handled employment insurance and the regional air carriers are two clear indications of how it is abandoning the regions.

SportsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday in Hamilton the Minister of Canadian Heritage, together with Sue Hylland, executive director of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, announced that the Government of Canada would provide $200,000 for two sport and physical activity initiatives for Canadian women.

The Government of Canada will provide $150,000 for the development of a Canadian strategy for girls and women through physical activity and sport. The other $50,000 will support a national conference on women, sport and physical activity to be held in Hamilton in November 2002.

These two Canadian initiatives will be part of an upcoming world conference on women in sport, which will take place in Montreal, from May 16 to 19, 2002.

These initiatives will demonstrate Canada's ongoing leadership in the area of women and sport at home and abroad.

Veterans WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week is Veterans Week which leads up to Remembrance Day, a time for us to focus on honouring all of those who served Canada in war so that we may have peace.

Canadians have always been quick to answer the call to defend freedom and democracy. The cost has been thousands of lives lost and even more injured or mentally scarred for life.

We owe it to them to remember every day that we are living and working in a peaceful, democratic society because our men and women were and still are willing to risk their lives and their futures to make it so.

This is a remarkable country. We are so fortunate to be Canadian. We owe all of this to our military and those who have served to defend it. This year I would ask everyone who knows a veteran or a Canadian forces member to make sure to thank them for our freedom. Their sacrifices are not something to be taken for granted. Lest we forget.

National DefenceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, to soldiers the comfort and functionality of the kit they wear are absolutely critical to the performance of their duties.

A great deal of time, effort and research has been devoted to providing our soldiers with the very best in clothing and personal kits through the clothe the soldier program. This important program consists of 24 compatible items of protective clothing and personal equipment. Designed with leading edge technology, the clothing will greatly enhance the operational effectiveness and protection for the men and women of the Canadian forces.

As chair of the defence committee I am pleased to invite all members of the House to join our committee in room 253-D, Centre Block, this afternoon immediately following the three o'clock votes to see the new uniforms of our Canadian forces. Between 3 and 3.30 p.m. four members of our Canadian forces will be present to demonstrate the new kit and answer any questions members may have.

Jean-François BreauStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on October 31, Jean-François Breau, a resident of my constituency of Acadie—Bathurst, launched his first album of songs in Montreal.

Jean-François Breau, who is 23, developed his love of music in 1997. Since then, he has taken part in a number of competitions, including the Gala de la chanson de Caraquet and the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, where he was a prize winner in 1998.

In 1999, Jean-François performed on stage during the Francophone Summit, which took place in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Jean-François has starred on stage both in Canada and abroad, having played the role of Gringoire in “Notre-Dame de Paris” in Montreal, Las Vegas and Lebanon.

This fantastic self-titled album contains 14 tracks, six of which he wrote himself.

As the member of parliament for Acadie—Bathurst, I am proud that we have Jean-François Breau as an ambassador.

Financial ServicesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, by 2002, there will only be five banks and two caisses populaires left in the neighbourhood of Hochelaga—Maisonneuve; 20 years ago, there were 28 combined.

For this reason, I organized a meeting in my riding on October 15, in conjunction with the Table de concertation du troisième âge, the CLSC Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, Option consommateurs and Le Collectif en aménagement urbain.

A great many residents of the neighbourhood came to discuss their problems in accessing financial services. Ten resolutions were passed at the meeting in order to improve access to local financial services, including the banks support for community reinvestment.

Representatives from the Mouvement Desjardins were quick to express their intent to take the resolutions into account. This is a fine example of the effectiveness of concrete efforts of local elected officials, public or private institutions, community groups and ordinary residents to make real improvements to the community's welfare on an everyday basis.