Madam Speaker, what a good idea it is to review part III of the Canada Labour Code. All the changes made will have a direct impact on 10% of Canadian workers and 7% of Quebec workers in industries governed by the Canada Labour Code. They will also have a domino effect on all collective agreements and on labour standards in Quebec and each of the provinces.
We may perhaps all have preconceived ideas about what is contained in this part of the Canada Labour Code: annual leave, statutory holidays, salary deductions. It is, however, fair and justified to mandate an independent commission to carry out research, consult the public and make recommendations on each of these elements. But would it not be better to aim at modernizing all working conditions, whether covered by part III or not, to mandate the commission and its new head to study and analyze labour conditions in today's economy and to see how labour relations in Canada and Quebec can be changed?
This examination ought not to be only through the lens of part III of the Canada Labour Code, but rather with a view to adapting to the new requirements of life today and a changing world.
There is of course the matter of balancing work and family, reconciling work life and personal life, as the minister has said. Ought we not to also look into the possibility of allowing parents with children under the age of 12 to work a four-day week if they want to? As well, ought we not to look at the possibility of having as many workplace child care facilities as possible? What about specific working conditions for natural caregivers? Then there is psychological harassment, not in itself anything new, although our intolerance of it is and it also warrants looking at.
Another manifestation of our changing times are contract workers. In some companies, it used to be that 70% of workers were permanent and 30% on contract, but now the opposite is true.
Then there is the new phenomenon of the workers approaching retirement age, those who are 50-plus and want to retire gradually. Could this new phenomenon not be combined with preparing the next generation of workers? Are the two unrelated, or could these two new problems solve each other?
Should antiscab legislation not also be considered by the Arthurs commission? Replacement workers are responsible for the unnecessary length of labour disputes. In Quebec, where the statistics are easy to analyze, workers under federal jurisdiction represent only 6.6% of the workforce but are responsible for 48% of the work days lost as a result of labour disputes. This is a telling statistic.
To reassure the minister, I must also add that Quebec employers have no complaints about this legislation, which has been in effect in Quebec for the last 25 years. On the contrary, it suits them.
Precautionary cessation of work also straddles Parts II and III of the Canada Labour Code. Here too, humane solutions must be found, and the current commission would have difficulty justifying any failure to address this issue.
With regard to globalization, a specialty of Professor Arthurs, protection must be given to workers who might be victimized by the demands of employers who introduce new requirements in order to meet the international competition.
In Quebec in particular, the disparities between the Canada Labour Code and Quebec's labour standards have lead to the creation of two categories of workers: those subject to the Canada Labour Code and those working under Quebec's labour standards.
Finally, we should take advantage of this opportunity to resolve certain issues that still remain in regard to federal infringement on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. Regarding parental leave in particular, the federal government signed an agreement in principle with Quebec a few days prior to the election call last June and continues to refuse, despite signing that agreement, to withdraw its reference to the Supreme Court. Compassionate leave also constitutes an infringement on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.
Such negotiations are extremely important for the Bloc Quebecois, which defends the interests of workers and defends the Quebec consensus on—