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House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers) is intended as a humanistic reflection of our society. That is why we ask all members of the 39th Parliament to vote in favour of this bill in principle.

Its aim is to encourage civilized negotiations during labour disputes—during strikes or lockouts—and to reduce picket line violence and the social and psychological problems caused by the stress of labour disputes. It would diminish the resentment that employees feel upon returning to work and foster a just balance and greater transparency in the negotiations between employers and employees.

This bill will ensure that the management and union parties negotiate under the same constraints in order to facilitate a quick and fairer solution.

The bill has several objectives: reduce the number of legal proceedings resulting from strikes and lockouts, shorten the duration of these strikes and lockouts, and reduce the lost income of workers and lost profits of employers.

Here are few figures on this point that are worth considering. Quebec workers whose employer is under federal jurisdiction almost always have a higher number of lost work days.

So although they make up less than 8% of the labour force in Quebec, they accounted for 18% of lost person-days in 2004 and 22.6% of lost person-days in 2003.

This reached a peak in 2002, when 7.3% of Quebec workers were employed in organizations under federal jurisdiction. They were responsible for 48% of the work days lost because of labour disputes.

The number of work days lost because of labour disputes drops when there is anti-strikebreaker legislation. Here are a few figures: the average number of work days in 1976, before the anti-strikebreaker law in Quebec, was 39.4; afterward, it fell to 32.8 in 1979 and 27.4 in 2001.

In British Columbia, which enacted an anti-strikebreaker law in 1993, the ratio of lost time fell by 50% from 1992 to 1993.

Workers who are subject to the Quebec Labour Code averaged 15.9 lost work days from 1992 to 2002. Workers who were subject to the Canada Labour Code averaged 31.1. For every 1,000 employees subject to the Quebec Labour Code there were 121 lost work days from 1992 to 2002; for workers subject to the Canada Labour Code there were 266.3.

The 10-month dispute at Vidéotron alone resulted in a loss of 355 work days in Quebec in 2002. This was more than a third of all work days lost because of a strike or lockout in Quebec in 2002.

The year 2002 was a record one in terms of person-days lost. It is important to note that this unfortunate record is largely attributable to strikes in organizations under federal jurisdiction. Those strikes last much longer.

If a majority of the House of Commons votes for this bill, this will be an opportunity for parliamentarians and every actor in civil society to take a position on this kind of legislation to amend the Canada Labour Code in the course of a debate on its merits.

Witnesses from every background will be able to express their views to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities of Canada, right here in this institution.

By voting for this bill, members of the House of Commons will ensure, for the first time in the 10 attempts that have been made since the early 1990s to have this bill enacted, that a debate that can only be beneficial to labour relations makes it onto the agenda.

In so doing, we will together be engaged in the worthy cause of recognizing the exceptional contribution made by everyone who goes out to work every day to build our societies.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 7:29 p.m., the time provided for debate has expired. Accordingly, the question is on the motion.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 25, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House on June 9 and I directed a question to the Minister of Veterans Affairs with regard to whether or not the minister was going to honour a promise that was made by the Prime Minister . I did this on behalf of a constituent of mine, Joyce Carter from St. Peters, Cape Breton Island. Joyce is a war bride. She is the widow of a second world war veteran. She has long been a champion for many issues regarding veterans and veterans' widows.

The issue she wanted me to bring forward was a letter that she had received from the member for Calgary Southwest, who at that time was the leader of the official opposition. The letter was written just prior to the 2006 election.

I should quote from the letter directly because we know that that former leader of the official opposition is now the Prime Minister . He said, “A Conservative government would immediately”, and I will repeat that for the members in the chamber and the people at home who want to make sure that this is concise. He said that a Conservative government “would immediately extend veterans independence program services to the widows of all second world war and Korean war veterans, regardless of when the veteran died”.

Members in this House are very much aware of the veterans independence program. They understand that the services, such as the home care services and grounds maintenance services, are very much appreciated and important services so that the veterans who did so much for us are able to stay in their homes and live in some degree of dignity.

That is the reason I posed the question to the minister on June 9 as to when he would honour that promise made by the Prime Minister and immediately extend the benefits to all war widows.

I was very surprised myself with the response from the minister at the time because really he was taken aback. I believe he was not aware of the promise at all. I believe his subsequent comments in the media indicate that. Under testimony when he appeared before the veterans affairs committee, it seemed that it was the first time he had heard of it.

As a matter of fact, when pressed with regard to immediately extending the benefits, the minister said, “Maybe we can do it in a piecemeal fashion, if you will”. Certainly a piecemeal fashion would not be anything like immediately, as promised by the Prime Minister .

When will the veterans affairs minister honour the promise made by the Prime Minister and extend VIP coverage to all war veterans and all veterans' widows, as was promised?

7:30 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Betty Hinton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that the previous government had more than 13 years to do what the member is asking for today.

This government is committed to veterans and their families. This government does not break its promises.

Our record of achievement speaks for itself. The veterans independence program, or VIP as it is commonly referred to, is one of the most successful and popular programs offered by Veterans Affairs Canada. The objective of VIP is to help veterans remain healthy and independent in their own homes, not only helping to maintain their independence but ensuring a high quality of life in their later years.

Over the years, the veterans independence program has been made available to more and more clients since its inception. Today, approximately 94,500 Canadian veterans and primary caregivers, 70,500 veterans and 24,000 caregivers, now receive VIP services across the country at an approximate cost of $270 million per year.

The program has become a model for programs both in Canada and throughout the world designed to help senior citizens live independent lives in their homes and in their communities until long term care becomes an absolute necessity.

The program assists veterans to maintain their independence through a combination of services that can include home care, housekeeping, grounds-keeping, meals on wheels and home adaptations. It is a customized plan for each client based on a needs assessment, which is created with support from Veterans Affairs staff and is self-managed by recipients in cooperation with provincial and regional health authorities.

The program also assists primary caregivers to maintain their independence after the veteran has died by providing housekeeping and/or grounds-keeping services depending on what the veteran was receiving at the time of death. Its goal is achieving nothing less than healthy living within the community, an emphasis that was all but unique in North America in 1981 when this program began.

In addition to VIP. Veterans Affairs Canada provides a wide range of support to veterans. If any veteran or his or her primary caregiver feels that they have a need that is not being met and for which they are eligible, we will work with them to assist them to receive the care they need.

The government remains committed to ensuring its programs and services meet the changing needs of its clientele. In its continuing effort to achieve this goal, Veterans Affairs Canada is currently conducting a comprehensive review of its health care programs and services. This review will include a thorough examination of access to VIP services.

The impact on this review will undoubtedly lead to a transformation no less profound than the one we achieved through the consultations and planning that brought us the new veterans charter.

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is not the answer that war widows wanted and that is not the answer that war widows deserve.

This week, in the veterans affairs committee, Mr. Jack Fost, the Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, while giving testimony on the development of an ombudsman office for matters of Veterans Affairs, felt that this was such a pertinent and relevant issue that he wanted to articulate the legion's position on this. In his opening remarks he called for the extension of the benefits to all pre-1981 veterans and war widows.

My plea again is for the Prime Minister to call upon the Minister of Veterans Affairs to extend the benefits to all war veterans and war widows.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that we have done extensions and we are moving toward a goal of achieving what we set out to do, which is to take care of all widows and all pensioners who are entitled to VIP services. We honour the veterans we have in this country.

I repeat what I said earlier. The member opposite was part of a government that for 13 years did nothing and yet in nine months we have accomplished more than the previous government had in 13 years. It takes a bit of time and it takes a bit of patience. If the member opposite has worked at all with veterans he will know that they are very patient and understanding people and they also understand the value of a dollar. We cannot rush into these things quickly. We have done what we can do to date and we will continue to do more and more for veterans as each day passes.

The member opposite is part of the veterans affairs committee. He works hand in hand with myself and other members of that committee and knows which direction we are going in and that it is in the best interest of all veterans.

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:39 p.m.)