Mr. Speaker, our government is determined to restore fair and responsible labour policies in Canada because unions and employers play an important role in protecting the rights of Canadian workers. They help make the middle class more accessible and help it to grow.
We need to work with labour organizations, not against them. That is why we have kept our promise and that is why I invite every member of the House to support this important bill.
Unions and labour organizations have expressed strong opposition to these two laws since they were introduced in Parliament. In spite of everything, obviously, some people may oppose Bill C-4. We are prepared to listen to the concerns of all of the parties involved.
However, I would like to be proactive and explain to the members here today that, despite what some may think, Bill C-4 will be good for labour relations across Canada. Certain supporters of Bill C-377 indicated that it was necessary to improve union financial transparency. They also said that it was necessary to ensure public access to information on union spending, given the favourable treatment that unions receive under taxation law.
However, these arguments do not hold water. Section 110 of the Canada Labour Code already requires unions to provide financial statements to their members free of charge upon request. What is more, provincial labour statutes include similar requirements. Also, the onerous disclosure requirements apply only to labour organizations and labour trusts. They do not apply to other groups that also benefit from special tax breaks under the Income Tax Act. This practice discriminates against unions.
I realize that some provinces have raised questions about repealing Bill C-377. British Columbia's finance minister wrote to the Senate to express his support for this bill. He said there was merit in increasing union transparency, since unions receive tax advantages. However, as I said, these onerous disclosure requirements discriminate against unions, and British Columbia's opinion is not shared by the majority.
Seven provinces came out against Bill C-377, claiming that it encroached on their jurisdictions. These provinces are Quebec, New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
As for Bill C-525, employers and other stakeholders who support union certification by secret ballot could be displeased. They do not need to worry, though, since the previous card check system for sectors under federal jurisdiction was successful for many years. This system is still used in many provinces.
As for Federally Regulated Employers, Transportation and Communications, some non-unionized members could have a problem with the repeal of Bill C-525. They could be concerned that this bill is being repealed but stakeholders have not been consulted.
I want to reassure them. We are doing this because we want to listen to all of the stakeholders. By repealing the legislative changes made by Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, we will simply go back to the way things were so that we can start over again. We will do more than our predecessors and ensure that all stakeholders are properly consulted before any changes are made to federal laws and policies.
We aim to restore a climate of co-operation and develop evidence-based policies. All parties must participate in a constructive manner.
We will use genuine consultations as the basis for developing labour policies that will make Canadian workers and employers more prosperous and improve the economy overall. Those are just some of the ways that Bill C-4 will be good for labour relations and, as a result, our economy.
It is clear that repealing the changes made by Bills C-377 and C-525 is the sensible thing to do. We are listening and acting respectfully. Our government made a commitment to enhancing Canadians' economic and social security, and that is what we are doing.
In my riding, Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, employers, unionized workers and unions have joined forces to defend our region's interests.
In a remote region such as ours, it can be hard for workers and people in general to make their voices heard. Mainstream media do not often talk about what is going on in our regions, but we are coping with major issues too. I would like to share a personal and professional experience. In the fall of 2014, when my region was contending with major cuts in several sectors of our economy, we got word that Quebec CEGEPs were slated for yet another round of cuts. At the time, I was the executive director of the CEGEP de Matane. Management and employees alike felt powerless to do anything about all of the budget cuts, which were going to result in job losses, raise the unemployment rate, which was already three times higher than the Canadian average, and exacerbate a very difficult economic situation. Rather than endure the cuts alone, I decided to get all of the CEGEP employees and their union representatives together, and I put an unusual idea to them. I suggesting holding a two-day retreat to discuss the repercussions of the cuts in the region with relevant experts and donating the equivalent of two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. In return, I promised not to cut a single job. The goal was to mitigate the cuts and clearly demonstrate our commitment to our community, our workers, and our CEGEP.
In an unprecedented expression of solidarity, all the employees, their union representatives, their union, and the entire student population supported this initiative. We had two days dedicated to reflection, and we all contributed two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. We mobilized a number of local socio-economic stakeholders who joined forces to defend the interests of our workers and our region.
Division never serves the community. It is time to come together and develop a relationship of trust with our workers. Together, we can create real, positive change.