Madam Speaker, the government is repealing two laws that have changed the way unions operate.
Bill C-377 has created unnecessary red tape and has put organized labour at a disadvantage in the collective bargaining process.
Bill C-525 makes it more difficult for employees to unionize and easier for a bargaining agent to be decertified.
The measures the government is taking in Bill C-4, are part of a plan designed to ensure that Canada's labour laws best serve employees and employers.
This new bill is part of the government's plan to strengthen the middle class in our great country and to fully recognize the important role that unions play in protecting the rights of Canadian workers.
This government started with a tax break for hard-working Canadians. In the riding I represent, that is a tax break for hard-working nurses, teachers, soldiers, and many other public servants.
We will follow that tax break with the new Canada child benefit, a monthly tax-free, income-tested benefit that would lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, a benefit that will help nine out of ten Canadian families.
We will also support our veterans by restoring the option of the lifelong pension and by caring for their physical and mental health, and that of their families. It is the sacred obligation of the government to unconditionally support those who have unconditionally served for our safety and freedom.
The government will rebuild its relationship with indigenous Canadians on a nation-to-nation basis, a relationship based upon mutual respect, recognition of rights, and understanding of traditional knowledge.
This bill is also about respect and fairness, national economic prosperity, and supporting the middle class, which is made up of those dedicated workers who contribute to the growth of our communities and our economy.
It is clear that the previous government did not believe in fairness or the importance of unions and the role they play. Its actions were motivated by a desire to undermine the union movement.
Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 were counterproductive to a positive working relationship between employees and employers. Furthermore, it was not a widespread request of the business community. It was unnecessary and caused difficulties for unions.
The two anti-labour bills, which this bill seeks to reverse and reset, were direct attacks on unions by the previous Conservative government. They undermined the right for workers in federally regulated sectors to form a union, and imposed unnecessary and onerous reporting burdens on all unions.
The current government is taking a different route, which consists in listening to the union groups, communities, and legal experts who sounded the alarm about these bills that likely violate charter rights. A number of constitutional experts felt that Bill C-377 was likely unconstitutional.
Privacy experts said that the bill would compromise the private information of millions of Canadians. The bill also discriminates against unions. It does not take into account other types of organizations, such as professional associations. What is more, seven provinces are against the bill because they feel it encroaches on their jurisdiction.
As my friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has so eloquently stated, Bill C-525 was simply a solution looking for a problem.
Simply put, in over 10 years and after thousands of rulings by the Industrial Relations Board, there were merely two judgments against unions for questionable practices during union organizing.
That is why the government has taken significant steps to rebuild labour relations after a decade of acrimony between unions and the Conservatives. It is why the government has introduced legislation to repeal these two anti-labour bills.
I have the honour every day of representing the riding of Fredericton, which is home to many dedicated workers who have been unfavourably and unfairly affected by Bills C-377 and C-525, which are mean-spirited.
Educated, professional, proud public servants, many of whom are taking care of our aging population, live in the riding.
We are home to university scientists and researchers, themselves fostering creative approaches and solutions to the existential challenges we face as a society, as well as making new discoveries to the way we view the world and how we provide economic opportunity, social well-being, and environmental sustainability to our community.
We are also home to almost 1,000 civilian employees at Base Gagetown, employees who, amidst all the coming and going of our men and women in uniform, keep the lights on, the roads safe, and the buildings operational at Canada's largest military training base.
The economic and fiscal contribution of these professional public servants is enormous. Base Gagetown alone contributes upward of $600 million annually to the New Brunswick economy.
The base, the largest federal government asset and largest contributor to our socio-economic vibrancy in the riding, would simply not remain operational without the diligence and hard work of civilian employees, the support of their families, and, in fact, the support of the entire town of Oromocto, Canada's model town, which sprung up just over a half century ago to provide service and a home for the base.
Bill C-377 and Bill C-525 were not mere attacks on the civilian workforce at Base Gagetown. They were seen as an attack on the community of Oromocto. As I knocked on doors last winter, spring, summer, and fall, clear across the Oromocto community, I heard time and time again how the community felt largely betrayed by the former government and how it felt it was time for a positive change.
On October 19, the people of Oromocto spoke clearly and they spoke for that real change.
As the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour has said many times, we promised to repeal these bills because they are detrimental to labour relations. In Oromocto, labour relations have had a negative impact on the morale of the community.
Unions have a major role to play in protecting workers' rights and growing the middle class. The former government trampled on many basic labour rights that were hard won by the unions. That made it more difficult for workers to enjoy freedom of association, bargain collectively in good faith and work in a safe environment.
The government plans on restoring fair and balanced labour legislation that recognizes the important role unions play in Canada and respects their major contribution to the growth and prosperity of the middle class.
This begins with repealing Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, legislation that diminishes and weakens Canada's labour movement. This side of the floor knows that the bill may face a stiff test in the Senate. It is, however, sad to hear members opposite say that they will direct the Senate to kill the bill and continue to disadvantage the organized labour movement in Canada.
I believe the Senate exists to study and recommend improvements and enhancements to legislation. I hope the upper chamber will serve to do just that and will work collaboratively with all parliamentarians in the House.
Canadians elected a government that would ensure evidence based decision making. On balance, there was very little evidence to support the passing of these two bills. Canadians elected a government that work hard to reinstitute fairness in decision making. Over and above balance, there was nothing fair in these bills.
This government promised to stand up for Canadians, and this is exactly what we have set out to do, and Bill C-4 would do that.