Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to have the last five minutes of debate to speak to my bill C-234.
We talked about this bill in the House for two hours. It is a bill that seeks to modernize the Canada Labour Code. The time has come to do so. We have made progress. We have been talking about this for years. The bill has been introduced several times in the House. Under the proposed bill, if negotiations are under way at an institution involved in a strike or a lockout and the employer asks people to telework, then the employee could be identified as a scab. This is where modern technology has taken us.
Earlier today and yesterday, unions were being praised in the House. The government was said to be on their side. Modernizing the Canada Labour Code would be a testament to that. Bargaining relationships have to be on equal footing. There can be no imbalance. Currently there is an imbalance on the side of the workers. When a company is in a lockout or a strike, its employees are out on the street and scabs are called in, the imbalance is on the side of those in the street. The company continues to make profits, manufacture its product, and ship it across Canada. Therein lies the imbalance.
We have reached that point. It is 2016, as the government and members here like to keep telling us. Let us do it. Let us walk the talk. We were talking about consultations earlier. It is not complicated. We just have to vote for the bill at second reading and it will be sent to committee. The government will be able to draw its list of witnesses. We will be able to talk to them and travel if need be. We can bring in the unions, the employers, and listen to them and hear what they have to say.
If we shut down this debate right now, we will never know what people want. We have the option to vote to send the bill to committee.
This summer my colleagues and I talked a lot about long strikes. Conflicts drag on. In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, a lockout lasted three years. Men and women were without jobs for three years while it was business as usual for the company. That is unacceptable.
We have to make changes. Even today, as we speak, employees of the Old Port of Montreal are on strike. They are going to start feeling the cold because strikebreakers are still arriving and providing essential services, while the employees are not being paid and cannot reach an agreement. This situation is dragging on because it works for the company.
On the one hand, the government praises unions and says that it backs them. On the other hand, when it is time to take real action, such as sending this bill to committee, it is dismissive and says that the bill creates an imbalance. I would like to hear what else the employees of the Old Port of Montreal have to say this evening. There is an imbalance. We have the opportunity to do something. Let's do it.
We are talking about 12,000 companies in Canada and 800,000 jobs. That is a lot. This morning, some of us had coffee in the cafeteria. The woman who served us is a union member. The customs' officer at the airport who helps us is a union member. The employees of the Old Port of Montreal, whom I mentioned, belong to a union. Those are the people we must help.
Amending the law does not create an imbalance. It simply creates a level playing field for bargaining.
I believe that we are at that point. It is time to modernize the Labour Code to ensure that, when there is a strike or lockout, it does not create an imbalance of power that prolongs the dispute. We need to allow employees to negotiate with their employers on an equal footing.
I am repeating myself, but we have the opportunity to send this bill to committee. Let us do just that. Let us hear from witnesses and then make a decision. Some people in the House already voted at second reading. Let us do it again. Let us go through the process again and do something to build the future for once. Let us amend the Canada Labour Code.