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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:20 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the people in my riding of LaSalle—Émard and tell them how it feels to be away from my riding to discuss issues that are very dear to me. I would imagine that every member in the House feels the same way. I want to repeat how incredibly proud I am to be part of a team that is standing up to protect the fundamental rights of workers.

The legislation put forward by the government, Bill C-6, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services, could, in the short term, achieve the goal of getting postal service back on track. But the long-term impacts of passing this legislation are still unknown. The reason the members of the official opposition are so vehemently opposed to this bill is that they believe it will have far-reaching long-term consequences.

What bothers me about this bill is that the conditions of the new collective agreement have been decided in advance. The government is putting shackles not only on the workers, but also on the employer and on the arbitrator who will have to decide the matter. What worries me about this bill are the long-term effects of the conditions being imposed, a concern that has been raised articulately and exhaustively by my colleagues. The conditions being imposed will lead to reduced incomes and a lower standard of living for the middle class. And that includes working conditions and future pension benefits.

In the long term, this measure will jeopardize the economic recovery that is so important to the current government, as well as Canada's future economic stability. Even more troubling is the fact that this lockout and this bill will only serve to poison labour-management relations. These conditions create a two-tier system of new hires versus existing employees, something that goes against the values of fairness that Canadians hold so dear.

Canada Post is part of our daily lives. It is a public service that ensures mail delivery to every community across this beautiful and vast nation of ours. Unfortunately, the lockout and Bill C-6 send mixed messages. The job actions taken by Canada Post management—service interruption on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the lockout—were a draconian response to the rotating strikes initiated previously. The government responded by introducing Bill C-6.

What message is the government sending to Canadians? First of all, they are being subjected to the effects of a lockout, and small and medium-size businesses are suffering financially. Unfortunately, the long-term impact of this government's actions will be the erosion of the very notion of public service. Why do we need public services like Canada Post? Because they provide an affordable service that meets the needs of all Canadians, regardless of where they live across the country, from coast to coast, from the far north to the south.

The Public Service is also a large employer, one that offers interesting working conditions for its employees and provides them with a standard of living such that they can help the country's economy to flourish. It is also important for us to remember that as Members of Parliament, we are part of the Public Service, in that we serve all Canadians, regardless of where they live.

I am disturbed by the fact that this government is trying to turn us into a society where the legitimate right to collective bargaining to secure attractive working conditions will be denied and where collective rights will take a back seat to economic interests.

I am proud to be part of a team that stands united in its opposition to Bill C-6, which threatens the right to freely negotiate a collective agreement.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:25 a.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Madam Speaker, it seems to me that a lot of people are being harmed through this work stoppage at Canada Post. We need to go back to October. There were some eight months of negotiations that occurred, three months in January into the spring with conciliation, a month with a mediator that was appointed.

Clearly, this is a stalemate that will not be solved by the parties. We saw the rotating strikes, which cost Canadian taxpayers, who, ultimately, own Canada Post, some $100 million. Today, the postal workers from coast to coast who are part of the losses that are occurring, postal workers in places like Peterborough and right across this country, are not being paid and some of them are on disability. If we could pass this bill, they will start being paid immediately. They will go back to work, postal service will resume and we will have put in place a solution.

the New Democrats constantly tell us to take the locks off. They know that is not a solution. They know that is simply a path to another impasse. It is more uncertainty for Canadian businesses and postal workers who just want to go to work. I keep hearing about young workers. I can say that if positions open up at Canada Post in Peterborough or elsewhere, there will be no shortage of young workers. However, I hope Canada Post does not engage in ageism because I believe new hires should be open to people of any age, not only young people.

I hope the NDP members soon come around because the pain and suffering they are thrusting upon Canadians extends to postal workers, too.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, I did not hear any question. However, I did listen closely to the comments of the government member.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the thoughtful and well laid-out arguments that my colleague made to try to explain to the public that might be watching the charade that is unfolding in front of their eyes as the Conservative government, the architect of this whole problem, stubbornly maintains its manufactured crisis and yet tries to pitch the blame on the NDP.

I wonder if my colleague would take a moment to sum up her thoughts in that regard.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:25 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, it is important to remember that the lockout was ordered by Canada Post, a crown corporation. If government members are concerned, especially in light of the economic losses that are apparently mounting, the solution, quite simply, would be to advise the management at Canada Post that a lockout adversely affects economic growth and has a destabilizing effect on Canada's economy.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:30 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have not had the opportunity to speak English very often, but I will give it a try. I have just received via Facebook a rather interesting message from an Anglophone, someone whom I do not know, who lives in a riding in British Columbia. He is asking the following question and I would like to pass it along to the member for LaSalle—Émard.

He said: “Remember when unions crashed the stockmarket, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no taxes? No? Me neither”.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:30 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a clear illustration of the strength that a community that stands up for the rights of workers can have. Currently, the economy is out of control and the profits of large corporations are not being redistributed. That is partly what is being expressed here and what we want to rectify. We want to see a power relationship in which a community, where there is strength in unity, can defend the rights of workers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:30 a.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government tells us that we should accept this bill because the proposed agreement includes salary increases. That is irrelevant. If the government is waiting for us to approve this bill based on that argument alone, it is going to be waiting a long time.

I even wonder if the government has read its own bill. If it had, it would have realized that we are not rejecting this bill because of a single aspect.

If we cannot make ourselves understood by the government, if it refuses to hear us because it believes it is above everything that happens in the House, let us try something else. Let us try to make the government understand that we are refusing to approve this bill because Canada Post workers are asking us to do so, and not only are they asking us to do so, but they are explaining why.

Here is an example a Canada Post worker sent me. He points out that one of the issues with the collective agreement that Canada Post is trying to force upon them is very important for future postal workers, and that is the shortage of workers and the demographics of the new workforce that we will see in the future.

First of all, the new contract would reduce the salaries of new employees from $24 per hour to $18 per hour. He explains that the new workers available for hire will be Aboriginal people and newcomers to Canada. These new workers will work for lower wages and reduced benefits, making them a separate class of workers and citizens. Once again, it is an insult to see co-workers being treated as second-class citizens.

There will also be retirees, and young men and women trying to support their families. They deserve a decent salary, the one that Canada Post already pays for the same work. Equal pay for work of equal value.

The many issues also include, as he points out, preserving sick leave and other benefits. In his letter this worker begs us not to let Canada Post cut their sick leave. For nearly 40 years, Canada Post has included sick leave in its offers, and the cost of this measure has not prevented Canada Post from making profits during the past 16 years.

Moreover, although the figures vary depending on the source, from 10,000 to 20,000 positions would be eliminated over the next 10 years. That means that Canada Post would have less vacation leave and other costs to pay. This worker cannot believe that, with these savings, Canada Post executives could no longer afford to provide sick leave for those whose jobs will not be cut. These sick days are a form of insurance. Some workers use them and others do not, so they are not a heavy burden on the system, as suggested by the executives.

His letter also mentions the high workplace injury rate and the many employees dealing with chronic physical ailments.

The union members are also affected by high rates of depression and mental illness, most of which are due to the high level of stress in the workplace, something that even the Canada Post executives have confirmed.

They even declared themselves to be champions of mental health. Despite this, they tried to cut sick leave instead of leaving current programs in place to help employees. Canada Post is saying that it wants to make the corporation a model employer, but its actions do not match its words.

Canada Post is saying that revenues are down, but it has done everything possible to shoot itself in the foot in terms of customer service. It is as though the company were purposely trying to fail on this front. It has cut the number of service counters and staff, both in rural municipalities and in large cities. How can Canada Post make money if it has no employees behind the counter to sell products and services?

There are long line-ups and not enough employees to serve customers. In the post office where this postal worker works, there used to be two customer service staff. Canada Post got rid of them a few years ago. Needless to say, sales have dropped significantly. The other service employees are trying to serve customers, but they do not have the necessary time or training, so there are no performance guarantees.

In addition, management is not available to respond to clients' needs. Clients are referred to a 1-800 number, which is now run by a private company. The employees are also required to fill out all of the paperwork required by management, which further reduces the time they have available to help customers. Customers must fill out forms themselves. High error rates slow down processing and create a lot of dissatisfaction.

The range of services needs to be increased, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. It should not get harder for them to send parcels. Many of the problems at Canada Post have nothing to do with the work or wages of employees.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley is rising on a point of order.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to wait until the hon. member finished her speech as I did not want to interrupt. I realize that she is new to the House but I believe she is in violation of a Standing Order while wearing a prop while she speaks. I am sure she is unaware of the rule and if she could correct that we would appreciate it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Earlier today, the Speaker made a ruling that props and visual aids are prohibited. I am therefore asking the hon. member to remove her prop.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member's comments talking about the future and really that distant future. I am actually a surgeon by training and this bill does not need the three, four or five days of labour; it needs a C-section. We need to move rapidly and ensure that we do things for Canadians and for Canadian businesses today.

Based on a few of my concerns from things that were raised earlier, I wonder whether the members opposite read the Bill C-6 clauses with regard to wage increases as outlined in the bill in clause 15. We are here supporting our strong, stable national majority government and my rural postal workers would like to know whether the member will agree that there are increases outlined in Bill C-6, clause 15.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to respond to the member opposite. She is a surgeon and I am a family doctor.

A C-section is performed when a person is in pain. Agreed? When a C-section is performed, it is done to alleviate pain, not simply for the joy of cutting.

I am telling the hon. member that I carefully read her bill, and I do not think she understands what it means. This bill means that, in the future, when there are other disputes involving companies other than Canada Post, the government will systematically intervene.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, the government has repeated its belief that urgent action is required. It was indeed the government that conducted itself with urgency when the crown corporation locked the employees out. It was the government that acted with urgency in tabling back to work legislation. Now the government says that urgent action is required to end this filibuster.

I repeat observations I made earlier in the House. The government did indeed have options available to it. When the government tabled government business Motion No. 3, there were specific opportunities missing from that motion that could have allowed expeditious passage of this bill, different sections referencing various standing orders, similar to the orders that were offered in the passage of the HST bill, the megatrials bill and the budget implementation act. They were not in the government motion.

I am asking if the New Democratic Party has engaged in any discussions with the government on amendments and if the government has accepted the New Democratic Party's offer to sit down and discuss amendments. It appears that the only way this is going to be resolved is if those two parties get together and cut a deal.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, could the hon. member please repeat the end of his question? I did not hear what he said.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is very little time left. If the hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte would like to briefly put the last part of his question, I will allow a very brief response.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, that is very fair of you. I appreciate the member's frankness.

The question was whether members of the New Democratic Party have put forward options for amendments to this legislation. Has the NDP engaged in any discussions with the government? Has the government engaged in any discussions with the NDP and what is the status?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are only 15 seconds remaining for the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, as both hon. members indicated, I am a new member of Parliament. The NDP has done a little but I a assume that we will have amendments to make later. For now, we are trying to discuss this bill, which we find unacceptable and unfair for workers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is now my turn to kill 10 minutes, so I am going to set about doing that.

We are all getting tired of hearing the same questions and answers back and forth. We all know we are engaged in this process to allow the parties to continue to negotiate in the absence of the draconian and heavy-handed imposition of the terms and conditions of their settlement as found in Bill C-6. However, it has been a useful exercise in the sense that over the course of 36 hours, as we get more physically exhausted, members on that side of the House are getting grumpier and are starting to reveal a little more about who they really are and what their real agenda is.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Why did the hon. member not show up for the vote? Where was the member for the vote?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, as they get crankier, they slip from the PMO's talking points and start to reveal how they really feel about organized labour—

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

That was just how I felt about the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre. It's not all organized labour, it's just the hon. member.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

—and about elevating the standard of wages and working conditions through free collective bargaining. We get insight and glimpses about how they feel about pension plans, how they feel about defined benefit plans. We start to see what they are really trying to do here is take on some big issues.

As the media has been saying, the Conservatives have a majority government now so they better get busy and throw some red meat to their base because their base is getting itchy. They are starting to wonder why they elected them when they have compromised—

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians ActGovernment Orders

June 25th, 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

The member is one to talk.