Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
I want to rise at this point to seek a ruling on whether two amendments to Bill C-257 adopted by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities are in order.
Bill C-257 was reported from committee on February 21 with amendments. I submit that three of these amendments are out of order, namely, the committee amendments to the bill's proposed new subsections 2.1, 2.3 and 2.4 of section 94 of the code.
These amendments are out of order because they are beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257 for two reasons. These amendments now seek to indirectly amend the application of section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code, a section requiring the maintenance of services where interruption would cause immediate danger to health and safety, which is a provision that is not originally included as part of Bill C-257. In so doing, they would also dramatically expand and alter the effect of section 87.4 introducing the much broader concept of essential services.
Not only is this beyond the original content of Bill C-257, it is arguably contrary to its original purpose. These amendments do not relate to the purpose of section 94 of the Canada Labour Code, the original purpose of that section being to proscribe unfair practices.
In terms of subsection 2.1, the amendment to subsection 2.1 of section 94 of the code is out of order because it is beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257.
This amendment attempts to make the bill “subject to section 87.4” of the Canada Labour Code, which is a section, as I said, dealing narrowly with imminent danger to life and health in the event of a strike. Because section 87.4 is not referred to elsewhere in this bill, this is clearly a provision that attempts to reach back to this section. I therefore submit that the amendment is out of order.
The amendment to subsection 2.3 of section 94 of the code is out of order because it is beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257. That was the ruling of the chair of the committee on February 15 when this amendment was first put forward by the member for Davenport. However, this decision was overruled by the committee, which then adopted the amendment. Let me take a moment to explain why this amendment is beyond the scope of the bill.
Section 94 of the Canada Labour Code prohibits employers and unions from using unfair labour practices. This section would be changed under Bill C-257 by prohibiting replacement workers during a strike or lockout, and adding powers for the minister to investigate compliance.
The committee chair ruled that the amendment to subsection 2.3 was out of order because it adds the new concept of “essential” services to section 94 of the Canada Labour Code, which is not relevant to that section.
In order to understand the context of the committee's decision, it is important to note that on February 14 the member for Davenport proposed an amendment to section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code which sought to ensure the continuation of essential services in a strike given the ban on replacement workers proposed by Bill C-257. The chair ruled that amendment out of order because section 87.4 was not opened up in Bill C-257 as originally introduced.
Section 87.4 of the code addresses the obligations of employers, unions and employees to maintain certain activities during a strike or lockout. It does not use the word “essential” to describe these activities. Rather, it allows the Canada Industrial Relations Board to designate which activities, services and operations must be maintained in order to prevent an “immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public”.
After the committee chair ruled on February 14 that amending section 87.4 was out of order, the member for Davenport moved an amendment on February 15 to add a new subsection 2.3 in section 94 of the Canada Labour Code to set out essential services which must be continued during a strike. However, section 94 of the code does not deal with the continuation of services in any way but simply lists unfair labour practices for employers and unions.
Adding the new concept of essential services in section 94 of the Canada Labour Code could affect the operation of section 87.4 by the back door by altering the way the Canada Industrial Relations Board would interpret section 87.4.
As this amendment also attempts to broaden the role of the board, this amendment both reaches back and broadens the scope of Bill C-257. It is therefore out of order on both counts. What is more, this new concept of essential services is not a defined term either in the previous statute or in the amendment. No definition is offered.
The amendment to subsection 2.4 of section 94 of the code is also beyond the scope and purpose of Bill C-257. The committee chair also ruled on February 15 that the amendment to subsection 2.4 was out of order. However, again the committee overturned the chair's ruling and adopted this provision. This amendment to the Canada Labour Code would add new powers to the Canada Industrial Relations Board regarding essential services during a strike or lockout. However, as noted earlier, section 94 deals with unfair labour practices, not the powers of the board for essential services. Therefore, the amendment to the proposed new subsection 2.4 significantly alters the nature of section 94.
I would also note that because section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code provides authority for the Canada Industrial Relations Board to maintain services during a strike or lockout, the new subsection 2.4 would affect section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code in two ways. First, it would provide the board with new powers to amend any agreement and it would supercede any decisions the board may take under this section. Second, because it introduces the new concept of essential services, it would undoubtedly change the interpretation of the board's existing powers for carrying out its activities under section 87.4.
I believe the committee chair's ruling was correct. Subsection 2.4 adds a new purpose to section 94 of the code and it is not relevant to section 94. It is not in the jurisdiction of the committee or the House to alter, by amendment, a private member's bill so an entirely new purpose is introduced. Therefore, the amendment is out of order and should be removed from Bill C-257.
I note that Marleau and Montpetit specify, at page 654, that an amendment must relate to the original matter of the bill. It states:
—it must always relate to the subject matter of the bill or the clause under consideration. For a bill referred to a committee after second reading, an amendment is inadmissible if it amends a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act unless it is being specifically amended by a clause of the bill.
Marleau and Montpetit also state that amendments must be within the principle and scope of the bill.
An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.
To sum it up, just as it is out of order to amend section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code because this section is not afforded by the original Bill C-257, it is also out of order to amend the same section through the amendment's indirect effect.
Subsections 2.3 and 2.4 are out of order because they do not relate to the original subject matter of Bill C-257 as introduced, and because they introduce new issues which were not part of Bill C-257 as originally introduced. The amended subsections 2.3 and 2.4 are therefore beyond the scope of Bill C-257 and should be removed from the bill.