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House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regulations.

Topics

Canada Post CorporationRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Yellowhead Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield ConservativeMinister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to table, in both official languages, under Standing Order 32(1), the report of the advisory panel on the strategic review of Canada Post Corporation. Canada Post is an important federal institution. It provides fundamental public service to Canadians.

I would like to thank, publicly, the panel that worked so hard on putting this report together. Dr. Robert Campbell and his committee did a tremendous job.

The government is carefully reviewing the panel's report, and is committed to ensuring that Canadians, rural and urban, continue to have a universal, effective and economically viable postal service.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, reports from the Canada-United Kingdom Parliamentary Association concerning the bilateral visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland, March 14-21, 2009.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-374, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Western Arctic.

Mr. Speaker, I hope soon that you will be able to call me by the new name of my riding, which is really the Northwest Territories. People ask me many times, where is the Western Arctic? The Western Arctic is a name that came before division, when we had two ridings within the Northwest Territories. Both Yukon and Nunavut are called by their proper names. We are proud of our territory, as well, and would like to be well represented in the House of Commons in a fashion that is appropriate.

When our athletes participate in sports across the country, they do not participate as the Western Arctic, they participate as the Northwest Territories.

I beg leave for unanimous consent from the House to rectify this rather longstanding error in the identification of my riding.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Northwest Territories ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-375, An Act to amend the Northwest Territories Act (legislative powers).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce this bill which would change the responsibilities for the development of new highways from the Government of Canada to the Government of the Northwest Territories under the Northwest Territories Act.

We have been calling for the development of highways. There is confusion over who actually initiates the development of these highways. With this amendment, it would allow the Northwest Territories government to proceed with real planning for the development of new highways, like the Mackenzie Valley Highway, that are really needed in the north. It would allow us to move forward with the preliminary work which would get it to the point where we could look at making this happen.

It would not take Ottawa off the hook for providing support to build this massive undertaking, but it would allow the people in the north to truly express what they see as important in their territory.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-376, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (addition to order of prohibition).

Mr. Speaker , Bill C-376, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (addition to order of prohibition) amends the Criminal Code. If passed, it would authorize a court that sentences or discharges an offender who has committed an offence in respect of a person under the age of sixteen years to prohibit the offender from being in the presence of such a person. My Conservative colleagues can see that the safety of our children is a matter close to our hearts, despite what they delight in saying.

In 2006, in Longueuil, a man who had served a prison sentence as a pedophile was found in his home watching pornographic films with some young children about ten years of age. During his probation, he had not offended against the Criminal Code because this was not a provision in the Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (durable life date).

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-377, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (durable life date) would prohibit the sale of prepackaged or canned food that does not indicate a durable life date.

Thus, its objective is to provide consumers with the most information possible on a food product so that they may make informed and safe choices.

In a context where the Canadian Food Inspection Agency itself admits that unsafe food can find its way onto the market, it is crucial to base all federal regulations concerning food product labelling on comprehensive information that allows consumers to make healthy and safe food choices.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

April 30th, 2009 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-378, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (increase of maximum number of weeks: combined weeks of benefits).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce legislation today that will make the employment insurance system fair for working mothers. I particularly want to thank the member for Nickel Belt for seconding this bill and for his profound commitment to this issue.

One of the many barriers that prevent women from accessing their EI entitlements is the anti-stacking provisions in the Employment Insurance Act. For example, these provisions prevent mothers who have secured maternity and parental benefits from accessing regular EI benefits in the event that they lose their jobs during these officially sanctioned leaves.

With layoff announcements coming almost daily, new mothers often find that their workplaces are closing during their maternity leave or they return to work but lose their jobs soon after. Shamefully, they find that they have no longer qualified for the employment insurance benefits they have paid for.

My bill will bring fairness to working mothers by eliminating the 50 week cap and changing the qualifying period so that individuals can access their maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits without worrying that if they lose their jobs in the interim, they will be left without EI.

I hope the government will pass this bill before May 10 because hard-working moms deserve more than flowers and chocolates this Mother's Day. They deserve fairness when it comes to EI.

I would be remiss if I did not thank Ben Rossitter from the Parkdale legal clinic for his advocacy on this issue, and Marie-Andrée Roy and Sam Dinicol for working on drafts and redrafts until we finally brought this bill to fruition.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my remarks about my bill for the name change, I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House of Commons to pass this bill at second and third reading stages today.

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is there unanimous consent of the House?

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

Income trustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, given the substantial preoccupation by government members about the risk of increasing income taxes, I think it is appropriate to present this petition pursuant to Standing Order 36 and certified by the Clerk of Petitions on what else but the income trust broken promise. This petition was sent to me by Mr. Dave Jones of British Columbia who remembers the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud was a promise not kept.

The petitioners want to remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts, but he broke that promise. He imposed a 31.5% punitive income tax which wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over 2 million Canadians, most of them seniors.

The petitioners call upon the Conservative minority government, first, to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, as was demonstrated in the finance committee hearings; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and, finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 94 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is it the pleasure of the House that Question No. 94 be made an order for return?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 94Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

With regard to the employment insurance program, what are the monthly statistical breakdowns for waiting periods for processing employment claims for each processing centre for the months of December 2008, January 2009 and February 2009?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-6, An Act respecting the safety of consumer products, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Consumer Product Safety ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-6 today.

Canadians are in dire need of updated consumer safety legislation. The fact is that more and more consumer products are recalled each year. Many of these products are not made in Canada and, in most cases, those that are imported are imported from China. In fact, products imported from China have often been recalled.

A scan of the latest incidents in today's news reveals toxic drywall from China, high levels of lead found in jewellery imported from China and toaster ovens recalled due to risks of shocks and burns.

Consumers need to know that their government is taking every action to protect its citizens from potentially toxic and harmful products. The sad reality is that consumers are not adequately protected by the outdated Hazardous Products Act. The 40 year old act has not been effective in identifying or removing dangerous products, leaving Canadian dependent on product alerts and recalls by the U.S. product safety commission instead of Health Canada in the majority of cases.

Consumers should receive protection from their own government instead of relying on their neighbours to the south to take action.

Bill C-6 attempts to address some of those weaknesses in the following ways: empowering the government to order the recall of dangerous products; increasing government authority to require information and action from manufacturers and importers; requiring mandatory reporting by manufacturers and importers of incidents involving death or injury from a product's use or any awareness of potential harm from a product or actions taken elsewhere; and, of course, applying heavy fines to violators.

Despite these positive changes, improvements are needed if the bill is to be effective and supportable. Despite the number of changes and improvements to the outdated Hazardous Products Act, our party has some serious concerns with several measures included within the bill. A number of improvements are needed to ensure that the bill is effective and fulfils the spirit of its mandate. I will look at each of them now.

The first concern that New Democrats have with this proposed legislation is the effect or lack thereof on import safety. The fact is that a whopping 65% of consumer goods sold in Canada are imported. The bill, in its current form, lacks any comprehensive system to ensure that items are safe before entering Canada. The risk management approach may target high risk sources for higher surveillance but overall the system depends on reacting to safety problems identified through use after the fact.

A growing problem with the import market is the use of counterfeited approval labels that are also primarily associated with offshore products. This growing concern has not been dealt with.

The United Steelworkers has suggested implementing a stated ban on products containing toxic substances that would be enforced through a pre-entry testing system, financed through a service fee applied at the border. This is one option and another would be to look at the current labelling requirements.

The second concern I would like to address is that there is too much discretion in the hands of the minister. While inspectors have been empowered with greater authority, many of their actions are optional, even when they believe human health is at risk. Related to the issue of discretion is the weak nature of the language contained in the bill. In order to give the bill the teeth it needs to actually protect consumers, the language should and needs to be strengthened. It should be strengthened by changing instances where it stipulates that the minister “may take action” to “has a responsibility to act” or “must act”.

Another particularly alarming omission from this new version of Bill C-6 from its former incarnation of Bill C-52 is the absence of a clause titled “disclosure to public” under the minister's responsibilities. In its current form, Bill C-6 does not require the government to inform consumers of safety issues that have been identified.

Upon questioning of government representatives when this issue came up, it was stated that companies would be less likely to report unbecoming behaviour if they knew it would lead to public scrutiny. What is more important, a business' bottom line or the safety of consumers?

That brings me to another issue with the bill in its current form, labelling.

The review of the 40-year-old act provides a perfect opportunity to beef up the standards for informing consumers and letting them know exactly what ingredients are contained in consumer products. However, if passed in its current form, the bill would allow for the continued sale of products that, by their nature, pose a risk to human safety.

Finally, the bill can look one way on paper but enforcement, as we have seen with the government, seems to be an entirely different story. Though the bill implies a more proactive, aggressive approach to product safety, it is not likely that any of these measures will be put into effect. These measures are completely out of character with the Conservative government's hands-off approach to industry and that what looks good on paper will likely never be put into practice.

In order to make the bill worthwhile there are several amendments that must be made at the committee level.

It is time to show industries that there are two choices: Make safe products and have them allowed in Canada or do not and prohibit them from entering the country. While the bill emphasizes big fines and tougher enforcement, when in history has the government been in favour in interfering in the affairs of business and industry?

Changes need to be made to the legislation to hold the government accountable and responsible for maintaining an adequate inspection capacity and staff to process, investigate and respond to the new reporting system. Without proper enforcement measures holding the government to task to act, there is no guarantee that any action will occur.

The NDP is rightly concerned that the Conservative ideology of non-interfering with business is affecting the safety of Canadian families and their children.

I will now address some of the issues raised by a number of stakeholder groups. The Canadian Cancer Society has a number of recommendations to amend the bill, the first being the removal of the exclusion provision for tobacco products in section 4. This amendment would remove the exclusion provision stating that essentially no part of the consumer product safety act can ever apply to tobacco products.

The second amendment would be adding tobacco products to schedule 1. The effect of this amendment would be that the consumer product safety act would not apply to tobacco products but that there would be flexibility so that in the future there could be a regulation providing that all or part of the act would apply to tobacco products. Tobacco products would thus be treated the same as all of the other products listed in schedule 1, such as explosives, pesticides, drugs, cosmetics and vehicles.

We agree with the Environmental Defence organization as it also has a number of amendments that it would like to see in Bill C-6. The general prohibition in the act should be expanded so that no consumer product can be imported or marketed if it is a danger to human health or safety, either through direct exposure or exposure via the environment. It also calls for a section to be added prohibiting substances on the list of toxic substances from consumer products except where the substance is not a hazard when used in a consumer product or the manufacturer or importer can demonstrate that no reasonable alternative exists. It also asks that a clause be included stating that nothing in the act limits powers to regulate substances in consumer products.

This legislation should include a duty for the government to act when it is made aware of a risk from a consumer product. There should also be a duty for the minister to inform the public when he or she is made aware of a risk in a consumer product.

The bill needs action and, therefore, in deciding whether a danger to health or safety exists, the legislation should require the government to consider the release of harmful substances from products during use or after disposal, including to house dust and indoor air.

The bill should create a hot list similar to that for cosmetics, including carcinogens, reproductive toxins and neurotoxins. These substances should be prohibited in products, with temporary exceptions granted only to the extent that the product is essential and only where alternatives do not exist. At a bare minimum, any product containing such chemicals should be required to carry a hazard label, as is required in parts of the U.S. and the European Union.

The legislation should also establish a list of product classes at highest risk of containing or releasing hazardous substances. There should be explicit guidance prioritizing the routine inspection of these product classes. Furthermore, this bill should require labelling of all ingredients, as is already the case with cosmetics.

Canadian consumers want reliable product safety information and a law that will get unsafe products off the shelves, if not keep them from being for sale in the first place. All parents and, as a father of two young daughters, we want safe products.

New Democrats will do everything to protect all Canadians across our great country.

Canada Consumer Product Safety ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his attention to safe products. I totally agree that Canadians are quite worried about that, especially in light of recent events. I certainly would not agree with moves to decrease inspectors' presence on the floor, such as with listeriosis or in proposals related to grain.

In the last iteration of this bill, which was Bill C-51, there were some concerns from natural food producers and retailers. I wonder if the member believes that those concerns have been taken care of or if those concerns have been moved forward into this bill.

Canada Consumer Product Safety ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe food inspection will be part of Bill C-6. It is looking totally at product safety. However, I do agree with the hon. member that there needs to be a more thorough investigation into food inspection in our country. We have seen the unfortunate circumstances and deaths that occurred in our country last year. Therefore, in relation to that subject, I do agree with the member.

I do think Bill C-6 needs more teeth to ensure that all aspects of consumer products and consumer safety can be addressed in our country.