That, in the opinion of this House, the government should increase by one week the basic employee vacation entitlement granted by Section 184 of the Canada Labour Code, to at least three weeks with vacation pay and, after six consecutive years of employment with the same employer, at least four weeks with vacation pay.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to say a few words about my motion to amend the Canada Labour Code.
The Canada Labour Code states that every Canadian who works in a company that falls under federal jurisdiction receives at least two weeks holidays and that after six years with the same employer the two weeks is increased to three weeks.
My motion would amend the Canada Labour Code to make sure everyone under federal jurisdiction receives three weeks holidays and after six years with the same employer they receive four weeks holidays.
This is something we should be debating in the House. I cannot recall a debate in the House on this for quite a while. It is something that would be very helpful to the Canadian population and to workers in general.
In a recent poll some 76% of the Canadian workforce agreed that we should have a four week holiday .
The motion today is to provoke a debate that we go from two weeks to three weeks and from three weeks to four weeks after six years with the same employer.
The Canada Labour Code covers some 1.2 million workers. The 1.2 million workers actually fall into a number of different areas. I want to mention some of the major areas that the Canada Labour Code covers in terms of workers: the air transport industry; banks; crown corporations; the federal public service; first nations people; the postal service, with some 62,000 or 63,000 employees; the broadcasting industry; railways; the trucking industry; water transport; shipping and communications; as well as a number of other areas. They fall under the Canada Labour Code in terms of holidays and would be covered by any kind of change or amendment as suggested by the motion.
When we look at other developed nations around the world, we find that most of them have more paid holidays than we do. In the European Union just recently there was an amendment to the regulations. In every country in the European Union the minimum vacation is now four weeks. If we look at the union itself, we find that the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands have four weeks. Other countries, such as France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark, have a mandatory five week holiday. Austria has five weeks. Japan, which has become an economically developed country over the last 20 years or so, has a five week holiday.
This is different from Canada, where people get only two or three weeks. There is also a difference between us and a number of other developed countries in the European community, where there is a minimum of four or even five weeks. The latter is the case for France, Spain and other countries such as Japan.
It is interesting that when we do the research on this particular issue we find that in the United States, for example, there is no mandated minimum holiday period. The American workers have no right whatsoever to any kind of holiday except what they receive from their employers or what they get through a negotiated union contract. This is how we compare with the rest of the world. Moving from two weeks to three and from three weeks to four would put us more in step with much of the developed world in terms of what is happening around us.
I really believe that if workers had more time off it would be better and more productive for the economy. Workers are more productive when there is less fatigue and boredom. I believe it would be more competitive because workers in this country would be on a level playing field with workers in many other countries around the world.
I also believe that economic activity would increase. A good example of that is France. In France where workers have five weeks off we will find that many of them will be holidaying, travelling, touring, sightseeing, spending money in hotels, auberges, restaurants and tourist resorts. It is a stimulus to the economy in a place like France and many other countries around the world.
I also look at this from a health point of view with regard to stress. I realized when we started doing research on this that millions and millions of dollars were spent every year in this country and around the world because of stress. A longer vacation would take some of the stress off working people and families in this country. A study done recently showed that people who had annual vacations had 30% less heart disease than people who did not take annual vacations. Therefore, the quality of life would increase.
In 1999 there was a study done by Health Canada on work/life conflicts of the Canadian people. It was discovered work/life conflicts cost the health care system some $425.8 million per year. That is a lot of money each and every year.
How do we compare to the provinces in terms of the Canada Labour Code? The Canada Labour Code covers 1.2 million people. All other people who work in this country are covered by the various provincial labour codes. There are some variances between the provinces.
I am proud to say that my province of Saskatchewan is the only province that provides a minimum three week holiday for a worker covered by the Saskatchewan labour code. After 10 years in Saskatchewan people get a four week holiday if they still work for the same employer. There may have been a change in Quebec. Recently Quebec employees received a two week holiday and then three weeks after five years.
There may have been a recent change in Quebec, where the situation is now the same as in the province of Saskatchewan. In all provinces other than Saskatchewan and Quebec, workers get a minimum of two weeks holiday.
In British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, they get three weeks after five years service. In New Brunswick, all workers get three weeks after eight years. In Newfoundland, it is three weeks after 15 years with the same employer. Fifteen years is a long time, but after that they get three weeks. In Nova Scotia, Ontario and P.E.I. workers get only two weeks. After 5, 6, 10 or 15 years of service, Ontario workers still get only two weeks.
I am surprised in particular by Ontario, an industrialized province that prides itself on being relatively progressive and avant garde and yet allows for only two weeks of holidays. According to the labour code in Ontario an employee could work at a job like Ontario Hydro for 10, 15, 20 or 25 years and get only two weeks of holidays per year. Of course because of collective bargaining and the power and influence of the trade union movement in Ontario, Ontario Hydro's workers have much more than two weeks of holidays. However the government is laggard and way behind in terms of additional holiday pay.
It is about time we looked at amending the Canada Labour Code to raise the minimum vacation pay from two weeks to three weeks. After six years the minimum could be raised from three to four weeks. This would put the Canadian people on a more level playing field with other countries around the world. It would alleviate a great deal of stress. It would be easier on the health care system which is costing an awful lot of money, partly because of the stress of the modern day workplace.
Vacation pay is defined as 4% of annual wages or 6% after 6 consecutive years of employment with the same employer. We could afford it. It would stimulate the economy and make it more productive. It would make the Canadian people happier. It would create a less stressful and more healthy workplace and nation. All these things are positive.
Through my talks with the trade union movement around the country and with Canadians both inside and outside the trade union movement I know the time has come to launch this progressive movement. It has already happened in many countries around the world.
Let us imagine this. French workers have five weeks of holidays. Many countries around the world have a shorter work week. We should be moving toward a shorter work week with no reduction in pay. We have technology, automation and computers. We have all these things which are supposed to lessen the work burden of the Canadian people and provide them with more quality and leisure time to spend with their families and friends or pursue hobbies and other interests. However it seems a lot of the technology has added to the work time of the Canadian people and made life more stressful and difficult for many.
I hope parliament will take this idea, refer it to the labour committee or whatever relevant committee of the House, and pursue it in legislation so that when we come back in the fall we can amend the Canada Labour Code in a way that is positive for each and every Canadian worker who falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. If the federal government did this it would provide an example to all the provinces to change their own labour codes so we could give Canadian workers the break they deserve for building the country and making it the great nation it is today.
I look for the support of all members of parliament from all parties for the idea. If we could pursue it in the fall and make changes to the labour code I am sure the Canadian people would be happy parliament had become more productive and was doing something on their behalf.