Mr. Speaker, I will try to get right to the point, even though it is not easy.
I want to talk about equity. My colleagues may be familiar with the concept of a trompe-l'oeil, which is a drawing that really looks like the object depicted. I think of Bill C-24 as a trompe-l'oeil. It is a fake, an illusion. The bill is supposed to ensure that ministers of both sexes are equal, but that is not really what it does.
The Prime Minister changed a title, reclassified a particular position, and gave both jobs the same salary. Ministers of state will now get the same pay as ministers. Is that really equity? I think not.
Earlier, the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill showed us that there is no equity between these two types of positions. Personally, I would add that a designated minister can delegate tasks to another category of people, called ministers, for whom departments are designated. What do we call ministers for whom departments are designated? We used to call them ministers of state.
Some categories of ministers can delegate tasks to others. The hierarchy seems pretty clear. Those to whom powers, duties or functions can be delegated are all women. They will get equal pay, but they will not have equal responsibilities. Every junior minister is a woman. They do not have the same powers.
If the Prime Minister were a real feminist he would have appointed more women to head departments from the outset. Instead of introducing bogus bills that are not substantive and do not solve the real problems, why not work on something that would truly help women, all women? I have two examples. The first is pay equity. I will be brief.
We have already talked about the fact that Canadian women earn barely three-quarters of what Canadian men earn. Traditionally female occupations are undervalued in the job evaluation and compensation systems.
Do my colleagues not think that a truly feminist government would have introduced legislation on pay equity as soon as it was elected, rather than Bill C-24, which merely scratches the surface, and only for a tiny fraction of the population? Meanwhile, women continue to get poorer and poorer.
The second example is the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. I think that piece of legislation should be completely repealed. The Harper government imposed that act on public sector workers eight years ago, and it is truly an abomination. I will explain why.
It forces women to lodge complaints as individuals rather than obtain the support of their union. It prohibits access to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It also makes pay equity an issue for collective bargaining, rather than a human rights issue. It forces unions to make a choice between addressing systemic pay discrimination and seeing what is left to improve working conditions for all the employees they represent. This places the blame on women.
As my colleague from Trois-Rivières was saying earlier, he negotiated in favour of pay equity. I too negotiated pay equity at the museum where I used to work. It is a very long and complicated process. Filing this type of complaint must seem like an impossible task to a person acting alone. It is very difficult. I suppose most women do not file complaints because of those rules.
Obviously, the NDP is in favour of eliminating the gender wage gap in cabinet. We believe in equal pay for equal work. However, while Bill C-24 may change salary amounts, it does not achieve equity. Men still hold more power than many of the women in cabinet. For true equity, we need to create equal opportunities for and give equal responsibilities to men and women. The provisions of the federal pay equity legislation must be enforced right away. I believe we should also immediately repeal the legislation I just mentioned, the terrible Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act.
Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, is not very useful in achieving real gender equality in cabinet.
I did not mention the other reasons why I will not be voting in favour of this bill.
This government's lack of good faith shows in this bill. It could have introduced much more meaningful legislation. I will therefore be voting against this bill, and I hope that every other real feminist will do the same.