Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to respond to the government concerns about Bill C-501.
The week before last the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that Bill C-501 required a royal recommendation. The basis of his argument was that clause 6 of the bill imposed an additional financial responsibility on the Crown. This particular clause would mandate the Minister of Labour to appoint an adjudicator to hear a claim made by a former employee of a company against a director of the same company.
The basis of my bill moves workers' pensions to secured status after a bankruptcy. It gives the pension so-called super-preferred status, meaning workers receive their pensions before shareholders and other creditors receive their money. In the event of a dispute or should a former employee bring a claim against the director of a company, the bill would mandate the minister to appoint a arbitrator to hear the claim.
The parliamentary secretary's arguments fell into two parts, the first being that the appointment of an arbitrator was a new purpose or created a new mandate for the minister. The second argument was that the payment of an arbitrator would increase government spending.
I reject these arguments and do not believe the bill requires a royal recommendation. First, it is already within the mandate of the Minister of Labour to appoint an adjudicator. The Minister of Labour regularly appoints adjudicators, conciliators, mediators and referees often under the powers of the Canada Labour Code. The minister's mandate to resolve disputes, adjudicate claims and protect workers' rights is broad and encompasses the intent of the bill. No new responsibilities or duties are being imposed on the Crown by this bill.
In previous cases stated by the parliamentary secretary to support his argument, all involved bills where new commissions or committees were being created by the minister and where the minister had neither a previous role in appointing such committees nor a mandate to involvement himself or herself in the issue being studied for resolve by that said committee.
In the case of Bill C-501, the minister regularly appoints adjudicators to hear claims concerning workers' rights, labour issues, grievances. In addition, the minister has a clear mandate to involve himself or herself in labour disputes and bankruptcies.
When an adjudicator, mediator or referee is selected to assist with claims or grievances, they are often employees of the federal mediation and conciliation service. These are Government of Canada employees. In this case, no royal recommendation is needed as the staff already carries out very similar tasks. The bill would not change their roles, their duties or their responsibilities nor the cost of their employment.
Should the minister decide to appoint a third party adjudicator, as happens in some cases, the common practice is for the parties involved to pay the costs of the arbitrator. Nothing, and I want to make this perfectly clear, nothing in Bill C-501 makes the Crown responsible for the costs of an arbitrator. In fact, the bill does not even state that there will be a cost.
The parent act to the Canada Business Corporations Act also does not provide for any compensation for an arbitrator. While the minister certainly has the power to pay, the bill does not mandate any payment. In fact, the minister could ask for an eminent Canadian to take the case and discuss and decide in the particular case. Therefore, no money actually has to be spent according to this clause.
Therefore, I respectfully suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the parliamentary secretary is wrong in suggesting that Bill C-501 requires a royal recommendation. These are my arguments for it. I hope you will take them under consideration.