House of Commons Hansard #207 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mpas.


The House resumed from June 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-345, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—Canso Nova Scotia


Rodger Cuzner LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the opposition bill, Bill C-345. I am pleased the bill was put forward by my colleague for Abitibi—Témiscamingue. The bill is very similar to one that was tabled in the House back in the last Parliament.

I think all members in the House share the opinion, the will, and the want of ensuring that pregnant and nursing employees are safe and supported in the workforce, as they should be.

The bill proposes to allow the Government of Canada to enter into an agreement with provinces that provide for the application of provincial preventative withdrawal provisions that are at least as favourable to the employee as those in federal legislation. It would create uneven treatment of federally regulated workers across Canada. The bill would add a new section to part II of the Canada Labour Code to allow a pregnant or nursing employee under the federal jurisdiction to access certain provisions of provincial occupational health and safety legislation.

Right off the bat, I would like to emphasize three things. The bill would not improve safety for workers. It would have unintended consequences of employers absolving their duty to keep their pregnant and nursing employees in the workforce through reassignment or modification. Of particular note, currently no other province has such a wage replacement program.

How we make changes to the Canada Labour Code is an important consideration in this debate.

Our government believes in a fair and balanced labour law, and fair and balanced labour laws are created through a tripartite process when it comes to amending the Canada Labour Code. This process has served stakeholders in the federal jurisdiction well over the decades, including employers, labour, and government.

Although I applaud the member for wanting to improve protections for pregnant and nursing workers, those workers, and all workers, in the federal jurisdiction would be better served to support the process that has helped create the Canada Labour Code, which provides some of the best protections for workers in our country.

Members of the House know provisions already exist in the Canada Labour Code to protect the health and safety of all federally regulated workers, including pregnant and nursing employees. At the moment, employees under this federal jurisdiction, no matter where they live, may request from an employer a reassignment or modification of a job function based on medical advice.

My second point focuses on the fact that the federal legislation emphasizes work modifications and job reassignments so employees can continue the work in a safe environment. This is important. I would like to stress that employers have a responsibility in ensuring that their workplaces accommodate pregnant and nursing employees. The employer's role is a key part of the discussion, which has been absent from this debate.

Work modifications and job reassignments ensure that women can continue to participate in the labour force throughout their pregnancy. This should always be a priority. If, however, a reassignment or modification of a job function is in no way possible, employees may take a leave of absence, as a last resort, for the duration of the risk and benefit from the existing job protections under the code.

I would like to highlight that the current system under the Canada Labour Code is working. There are very few complaints associated with the current federal approach to preventative withdrawal. Over the past 10 years, only 14 complaints have been received, with only three of those judged to be founded following investigation.

The province of Quebec offers a similar provision for pregnant or nursing workers, providing them with the right to request reassignment to other duties or, if that is not possible, to take leave if their working conditions may be physically dangerous to their health or that of their fetus or nursing child.

Canada is a federation of 14 different jurisdictions. It is important that all workers who are regulated by the federal Canada Labour Code are treated fairly and equally, regardless of the province in which they work. Providing access to salary replacement benefits only to certain federal employees is unfair to employees working in other provinces and territories.

For example, an airline pilot or flight attendant working for a company like WestJet or Air Canada in Alberta should have the same rights as a pilot or attendant working for the same company in Quebec. These considerations should be taken into account as we examine this bill's implications more closely.

This bill would only benefit federally regulated workers in Quebec, since it is the only province that specifically offers preventative withdrawal job protection with wage replacement for those impacted. In Quebec, if a pregnant or nursing employee must stop working because of a health risk to her, her fetus, or her child, and if the employer is not able to reassign her, this employee is entitled to preventative withdrawal leave with a wage replacement equivalent to 90% of insurable earnings.

Our government takes the physical and mental health safety of all workers extremely seriously. In budget 2017, we announced new compliance and enforcement measures for occupational health and safety and labour standards. These measures include monetary penalties and administrative fees for employers who routinely violate legislation, the authority to publicly name violators, strengthened powers for inspectors, new recourse against reprisal, and improvements to the wage recovery process. The budget also proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated workers the right to request flexible work arrangements.

These and other budget 2017 measures will help workers to better balance professional and personal responsibilities, such as caring for a spouse going through medical treatment or for an aging family member. This will benefit workers and their families.

We know that new and growing families across this country need support to help balance work and the needs of their families. One of the first actions we took as a government was introducing the Canada child benefit, which puts more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 families, helping lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

Through budget 2017, we are improving the employment insurance program to help working parents face the challenges that come with a growing family. Parents will have two options: receiving El parental benefits over a period of 12 months at the existing rate of 55%, or receiving them over an extended period of up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings. Additionally, if they choose, pregnant women will be allowed to claim El maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date, up from the previous eight weeks.

Our government also amended the Canada Labour Code to ensure that workers in federally regulated sectors have the job protection they need while receiving caregiving, parental, or maternity benefits.

Let me be clear. This government is working to ensure that women across this country are supported in the workforce. Women from coast to coast to coast can depend on this government to fight for their rights and inclusion. We are taking concrete action to support women in Canadian workplaces. We introduced union training innovations, which support and recruit women in trades. We are working hard on building a proactive pay equity regime. The legislation will be tabled in 2018. We are supporting female students in STEM and business through work placements.

In conclusion, trying to improve one aspect of the Canada Labour Code for workers should not lead to inequitable treatment for others. If the central goal of this bill is to improve the protections and supports for pregnant and nursing employees working in the federal jurisdiction, those protections and supports should be the same for every mother across this country, irrespective of the province in which they live.

Labour laws are very complicated, and making changes to them can lead to unintended consequences. That is why we, as a government, are very supportive of the tripartite process. When changes in the code are made, that is what should be exercised. That is why we are unable to support this legislation.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill C-345, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code for pregnant and nursing employees. As indicated in the speech by my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, my party supports referral of this piece of legislation to committee for further review and witness testimony. I believe it is an important amendment to the Canada Labour Code and should be given the appropriate amount of time at committee stage for review.

Although the Canada Labour Code affects only 10% of the population, some of the jobs falling into this category would be of concern to pregnant and nursing mothers, including jobs in uranium mining, air transportation and airlines, and interprovincial pipelines. Each of these jobs could threaten the health of both the mother and her child.

As we move forward in Canada with the economic growth of women, we must take important things into consideration. Currently, women make up a small majority of university graduates. Women are graduating from science and technology, engineering and math, but are not remaining in those fields at the same rates. I believe, as a member of the status of women committee, that women make the choice to have children that takes them out of the workforce temporarily, and sometimes full-time. We must provide family friendly options that work both for families and Canada's economy. Policies that would work and support women during their pregnancy and while nursing need to be discussed and studied as we continue to support women nationally.

We have reviewed the policies currently in place in Quebec. These policies create a gap between Quebec employees and their co-workers in the same fields, and sometimes when they are working side by side. Providing an opportunity for the federal minister to work with her provincial counterparts and to review Labour Code issues with a gender-based lens would provide a positive and equal playing field, but we need to hear from the experts on this issue, who will study the economic benefits and negative impacts on our economy and families.

We must consider what jobs females currently do Canada. According to a 2016 Statistics Canada report on employment by industry and sex, women make up 19.5% of the employees in the forestry, fishing, mining, quarry, oil and gas sectors. According to a study completed by Mining Industry Human Resources Council on participation in the mining industry in 2011, in a variety of capacities, including operating heavy-duty equipment, welding, and truck driving, women's participation was below 15%. Therefore, we have see growth between 2011 and 2016.

It is important that we continue to support the growth of female participation by reviewing the current federal policies in time. Many women plan their careers and employment around childbirth. Families are important to the growth of Canada, and supporting families is a practical approach to this issue. Providing flexible parental leave and employment insurance benefits for parents with ill children are positive measures that the Conservative Party supports and introduced in previous legislation and in its 2015 platform.

We must always consider the risk of a job to the health of the mother and her child. According to WorkplaceNL:

Laurentian University, in consultation with Workplace Safety North...have developed a document, “Guide to Healthy Pregnancies in the Mining Workplace”.... This is a valuable resource that provides information on workplace hazards in the mining industry including: physical agents (noise, vibration, heat, radiation); chemical agents (gases, dusts, mists, vapours, metals) and other factors (ergonomics, scheduling and workplace stress).

I believe this is an opportunity to review the occupational health of pregnant and nursing mothers, and organizations like this could study and identify these risks.

To return to the bill and its financial aspects and the amendments suggested by the sponsoring member, what would be the economic impacts of these for Canadians? What is the loss of income to a family when a pregnant or nursing mother must take time off without pay due to a pregnancy? What would this bill do, what would the results be, and what would happen if it went forward?

This bill only allows for the Minister of Labour to enter into agreements with the provinces. It does not create these agreements.

Members of the Conservative Party support maternal and child health in Canada and abroad. A government MP indicated previously that legislation like this would further complicate an already complicated area, but realistically, the key priority of this legislation is the safety of pregnant women and their unborn or nursing children, and the financial impact if they cannot be accommodated at their places of work.

The Liberal government, in its 2017 budget, extended to 12 week the benefits available to women who are unable to work due to their pregnancies. On a side note, I still prefer the 15 weeks presented in a private member's bill by the member for Kingston and the Islands. Moving the date prior to the birth of the child from eight to 12 weeks is a positive thing to do, but sometimes the threats to pregnancy are longer than just 12 weeks.

Sometimes expectant mothers can have a pregnancy involving hypertension or multiple births. Many employers will do their best to accommodate their employees, but unfortunately this is not always the case, so we need to consider alternatives. Having appropriate studies that will support economic security for women in Canada must be considered, and moving this piece of legislation to committee should be supported.

Many issues need to be considered, including current agreements with employees, inequities, and estimated costs. We must find an appropriate balance that supports families while supporting our businesses, which are already feeling the impact of the Liberal government's measures, including the most recent proposed tax changes and the cancellation of the Liberals' 2015 campaign plan to allow small business tax rates to be reduced to 9%. We always have to take these things into consideration, because it is not just about the employees; it is also about the employers.

Unfortunately, we have seen small businesses being targeted by the government since the 2015 election. Although we see jobs have been created, we also see a huge threat to our economy as we move forward with these proposed tax changes. We have to always consider what else the government can throw at them, whether it is federally or provincially, and what the government is going to do to make life for small business even harder.

As we are considering these amendments, we must see who will be impacted and who will benefit from the legislation. This has to be the question. Does this piece of legislation make life better for Canadian families, mothers, and their children? Have we properly supported the economic security of women in Canada, while supporting the growth of Canadian families?

I thank the member for bringing this bill forward so that we can review these potential changes. Bill C-345 provides a vehicle for parliamentarians to study these changes and to speak to experts in different fields. We need to support families and support healthy pregnancies and children, but we also need to create a healthy economy.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to support my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who introduced Bill C-345. I admire her greatly. She is the mother of two children aged two and about five months. When she is in Parliament, she is practically a single mother since she is here by herself with her five-month-old daughter who sticks to her like glue. The baby is always here with her. She gives speeches wearing a baby carrier and holding little Florence in her arms. Right now, the baby is just on the other side of the door, in the lobby.

The member is always taking care of her daughter and representing her constituents from Abitibi—Témiscamingue. She does an excellent job and she is passionate about her work. When she had children, she fought hard. She has been fighting for the past six years so that women MPs can have access to child care services tailored to their needs, in other words, ones that will accommodate a schedule that can be somewhat unpredictable, because of votes, for example. There was no daycare on the Hill specifically for members. She fought for us to have a family room. Everywhere she goes, she fights so that women can continue to work and raise a family, regardless of their age. She really deserves a round of applause for that.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:10 p.m.


Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Yes, I am truly proud to work with her, and I am proud to be a young female parliamentarian. If Bill C-345 were to pass, it would benefit other women facing other difficulties in high-risk work environments.

As my Conservative colleague said, passing this bill would improve working conditions for women in jobs involving pipelines and chemicals or flight attendants who have to spend long hours on their feet, allowing them to carry a pregnancy to term and even to continue caring for their child by nursing. My NDP colleague is keeping up the fight, which is very commendable. Even though it is hard for her right now, she is fighting for women in even tougher situations, so those women can keep working and living with dignity while being mothers.

I believe that being a woman should never be a disadvantage, a source of stress, or a reason to live in precarious conditions.

As my colleague, the member from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, already stated in one of his speeches, “In Quebec, we often boast about how we are more progressive, but that is not always true and has not always been the case.”

Women got the right to vote in 1940. Ever since, women have been fighting for full recognition of their rights. Many battles later, they won meaningful recognition of their equality.

Women in Quebec had to wait until 1979 for a maternity leave program for working women. In 2000, women marched to let the world know that they were still fighting for equality and fairness for all women. That fight is not over yet. When a woman chooses to carry a pregnancy to term, it is not because she fears the future, but rather because she is betting on the future, and hoping for a promising future for her child. She wants a better world for the new life growing inside her.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to bet on Canada's future by protecting the health of mothers and their children. That is why we are debating my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue's Bill C-345 today.

The current Liberal government certainly likes to brag about being feminist, about how it wants to move forward with equity legislation and support work-life balance. This would be a very tangible step it could take toward promoting work-life balance and the integration of women into the workplace.

Bill C-345 amends the Canada Labour Code to authorize the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to enter into an agreement with the government of a province or territory that provides for the application, to pregnant or nursing employees, of certain provisions of the provincial legislation concerning occupational health and safety. We have maternity leave because unions fought for it, and not that long ago either. In 1971, the federal government expanded what was then called the unemployment insurance system to include maternity leave benefits equivalent to 66% of the mother's salary for a limited period of 15 weeks.

Subsequently, unions began pushing for longer maternity leave and a higher proportion of salary. They also began negotiating guarantees that women could return to the same job they had prior to their maternity leave, as well as paternity leave and leave for adoptive parents.

According to the Canadian Labour Congress, at the beginning of the 1960s, just over 30% of women aged 20 to 30 participated in the Canadian labour force. By the end of the 1970s, that number had doubled to just over 60%. In 2012, over 70% of young women were participating in the labour force, and today, 70% of mothers with children under five years of age are working. We still have some work to do.

As early as 1979, Quebec's Common Front, representing government, education and health workers, negotiated 20 weeks of fully paid maternity, 10 weeks' leave when parents adopted a child, and five days of paternity leave. These are just some examples that have led to our current system. Maternity and parental leave are hard-won gains, and they must be extended in order to better help women get back into the workforce.

The federal government has now decided to allow women to take 18 months of maternity leave, as my Liberal colleague was saying, but the extended leave comes with a significant reduction in income, since an employee will go from receiving 55% of her income for the first 15 weeks to getting 33% for the rest of the leave. That makes it very difficult to support the family and for single-parent families, living conditions often become very tough. Women, who earn even less money than men, end up living in poverty. That is not what I call creating the best possible conditions for a mother and child's long-term health.

The program in Quebec is more generous with weekly benefits of $900 compared to $543 from the federal program. If Bill C-345 passes and a province decides to offer a program that is better than the current federal measures, or if a province improves an existing program, the Minister of Labour would have the authority to establish a new agreement or amend the existing agreement to include the new benefit.

The federal government has to lead by example and encourage the provinces to improve this system. Canadians could then choose which program suits them best. Bill C-345 reinforces the notion that women should not have to choose between putting their health or that of their child at risk by continuing to work or losing their salary to protect themselves. Bill C-345 can protect women who work in high-risk environments and motivate employers to make accommodations to allow women to continue working when they are pregnant or nursing.

This bill also puts forth an amenable means of delivering the best possible care to women by giving the Minister of Labour the ability to consult provincial governments in order to decide whether the provincial or federal maternity benefits package will better suit constituents on a province-by-province basis.

Bill C-345 is able to provide equal pregnancy benefits to all pregnant and nursing employees across a given province once an agreement is reached between the provincial or territorial government and the Minister of Labour, regardless of whether their job falls under federal or provincial jurisdiction.

I have had the experience of being a working, nursing mother. It was a very demanding time, and my job did not involve being in an environment that would put my health or my daughter's at risk. Indeed, I was working here, in Parliament, a position I consider myself very fortunate to have been in, and I am quite aware that not everyone is as lucky as I was. Not all women have that peace of mind, and I cannot imagine the stress of being a new mother who has to learn to cope with a new baby and deal with returning to work in an environment that puts her health and that of her child at risk.

Bill C-345 also promotes greater equality between men and women in Canada and greater equality among women. It strengthens existing laws and helps men and women while making our society more productive. By helping men and women better juggle family and work responsibilities after a child is born, and by protecting women's place in the workforce, we will see our existing businesses grow stronger and new ones being created.

Both sides of the House have contributed to the development of this bill. I want to take this opportunity to thank the members for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and Abitibi—Témiscamingue for their monumental efforts. I hope the Liberals will have a change of heart and realize how important this bill is to all women working in high-risk occupations.

Business of SupplyPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario


Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that next Tuesday, October 3, and Thursday, October 5, shall be allotted days.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-345, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me as well to rise in this House and speak to a bill that will benefit pregnant and nursing women and improve gender equality to boot. I therefore want to add my voice to that of the member for Salaberry—Suroît.

She just made an excellent speech in which she supported and commended the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for all the outstanding work she has done to promote greater family spirit here in the House.

This bill will also improve access to services and allow for greater fairness in family life.

I, too, wish to commend my colleague for introducing this bill. Bill C-345 is entitled, “An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (pregnant and nursing employees)”. Naturally, we intend to support this bill at second reading. The NDP has a long history of working to promote women's rights across the country. Women face major challenges in the workforce.

The bill introduced by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue meets the aspirations of many women who would like to have better working conditions and increased safety for them and their children when they have to go back to a job that could be dangerous.

More specifically, Bill C-345 amends the Canada Labour Code to authorize the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to enter into an agreement with a provincial government that provides for the application, to pregnant or nursing employees, of certain provisions of the provincial legislation on occupational health and safety.

Essentially, Bill C-345 ensures that women receive the best benefits possible before the child is born and during the breast-feeding period. This will better protect women who work in high-risk work environments and motivate employers to make accommodations to allow women to continue working when they are pregnant or nursing.

Those are the main benefits of this bill. It advances women's rights and ensures greater equality between men and women, as well as fairness. This bill puts forth an amenable means of delivering the best possible care to women by giving the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour the ability to consult provincial governments in order to decide whether the provincial or federal maternal benefits package will better suit constituents on a province-by-province basis.

Once an agreement is reached between the provincial or territorial government and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, this will provide equal pregnancy benefits to all pregnant and nursing employees across a given province, regardless of their job falling under federal or provincial jurisdiction. This guarantees fairness among all workers in any given province.

This is not the first time the NDP introduces bills or moves motions to improve gender equity. We just recently moved a motion on pay equity that we are very proud of. It was adopted by the House of Commons. We asked and recommended that a pay equity bill be adopted in 2017, this year. As I already mentioned, the people in my riding are totally shocked when they learn that there is no federal legislation on pay equity. When I tell them as much, they cannot believe it.

As a result, hundreds of my constituents signed petitions calling on the House of Commons to pass legislation on pay equity. Unfortunately, the current Prime Minister's Liberal government is slow to introduce such legislation. In fact, it is going to wait until the eve of the next election to introduce this bill and argue it will have to get reelected if people want pay equity legislation. That is too bad because we should not have to wait for gender equity.

That was just an example of all the good work that we are doing to improve gender equality. We are truly a leader on this file. It is very important to us. I am very proud of my NDP colleagues' recent victory in removing the federal tax on feminine hygiene products—a significant achievement. That was certainly an unfair tax if ever there was one. More than 72,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for the abolition of this totally unfair tax. I am very proud that we were able to move this issue forward.

These examples provide a context for Bill C-345 and show that the promotion of gender equality is embedded in the NDP's mission and, indeed, in its very DNA.

I am extremely proud of my colleagues, the members for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Salaberry—Suroît, who have changed the culture of the House of Commons and proved that it is possible to be a female MP and have young children and even nurse here while carrying out the duties of this important job. We can give these women every resource and every opportunity, and I know my colleagues have worked very hard to improve work-life balance, or what you might call House-life balance in this case. We still have a long way to go, but passing Bill C-345 would take us one step closer.

I recently worked on another campaign spearheaded by one of my colleagues. This campaign, which I continue to support, is for free prescription birth control. Once again, it is often women who bear the entire financial burden of this responsibility. Prescription birth control is not a choice. When a doctor recommends one contraceptive over another to a woman, it is often because the other contraceptive is not suited to her physiology. Unfortunately, the recommended alternative can often cost hundreds of dollars, which can have an impact on women like single mothers, young students, and low-income workers.

Prescription birth control is already free in 25 countries. That is why hundreds of my constituents have signed petitions calling for free prescription birth control. This would be one more way to contribute to gender equality in Canada.

I want to thank the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue for bringing this bill forward, and I commend her for everything she does in the House to demand better access to services in order to achieve a better balance between family life and parliamentary duties. Her efforts will benefit all women going forward. Let us hope we will keep moving in this direction.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue has up to five minutes for her right of reply.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:30 p.m.


Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to arguments against my bill, particularly those made by the Liberals. I strongly encourage them all to listen closely to be sure they understand.

They say that we already have an employment insurance program that allows women to leave work 12 weeks prior to their due date. However, pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. That means women get nothing for 28 weeks. Miscarriages and congenital malformations are much more likely to occur during the first two trimesters, which is when there is no protection available to women.

That is why we need preventive withdrawal programs that provide an income for women, especially when other women in the same province have access to that kind of program. They argued that a woman living in Ontario would not have the same protection as a woman living in Quebec even if they worked for the same employer, but that is already the case for parental leave benefits.

A House of Commons employee who lives in Quebec does not get the same benefits as her colleague who lives in Ontario. One collects benefits under Quebec's parental insurance plan, and the other collects employment insurance. We already have different provinces doing different things when it comes to parental leave benefits, so why not adopt the same approach for preventive withdrawal? The same logic should apply.

Furthermore, I have been told that the only province where women could benefit from this is Quebec. That is true, but other ministers are currently working on similar programs, because they realize how important this is. Alberta and British Columbia have progressive governments that are examining this issue and understand just how crucial a preventive withdrawal program can be in family planning. Yes, it is true that only women in Quebec would benefit from this, but that could change soon. I hope things will change.

The government could introduce a Canada-wide federal program, except that 85% of employees work under provincial jurisdiction. That is why it makes a lot more sense to leave it up to the provinces to create their own programs and for us to align with provincial programs to ensure that all employed women in a given province can benefit from the same protections.

As members can see, there is clearly no reason to vote against this bill, particularly at second reading, when it still has to go to committee. Even the Conservatives understand that this is about women's rights and that the bill will protect pregnant and nursing women. They were able to put partisanship aside to support my bill, even though we all know that we have very different opinions on a number of issues. The Liberals therefore have no reason to play politics and deny rights to pregnant and nursing women. Women deserve to have a safe pregnancy and some assurance they do not end up in financial difficulties.

I hope that the Liberals will understand what is at stake and that they will send this bill to committee because it is a matter of women's rights. We need to take action.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The vote is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members



Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Some hon. members


Canada Labour CodePrivate Members' Business

7:35 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 4, 2017, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to pursue a question I asked on a very memorable day, which was April 12 this spring. We were gathered here just hours after this place was electrified by the inspiring speech of Malala Yousafzai. She was extraordinary. I think we all remember her ability, her adept touch at humour, her compelling life story, and her challenge to Canada: to help, and make a priority, in the education of women and girls.

In question period that day, I asked the Prime Minister a question, and used the challenge that Malala Yousafzai had put to us. We will recall that her address laid out very clearly the case, the absolutely rock solid case, that educating women and girls was the best investment one could make in peace and security, and bettering the whole world.

As she said, “Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries and our world.” However, she went on, “But around the world, 130 million girls are out of school today.” Her challenge to the Prime Minister, was “Dear Canada, I am asking you to lead once again”. She had very specific questions. Would the Prime Minister:

...make girls' education a central theme of your G7 Presidency next year...use your influence to help fill the global education funding gap...Host the upcoming replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education...prioritize 12 years of school for refugees.

The Prime Minister's answer was entirely positive, but as in the case with many answers in question period, it lacked specificity. Clearly, the Prime Minister spoke of the enormous honour of welcoming Malala Yousafzai. He agreed that we needed to do more. He agreed that in Canada's G7 presidency, which will begin next year, there would be a strong emphasis on gender equality and opportunity for women and girls.

However, since that time, unfortunately the world has fallen short. There have been a number of disturbing developments. Again, one of these things still lies in the future, which is the G7 presidency for Canada.

The G7 meeting just months later, in June of this year, in Italy, was extremely disappointing. A much-anticipated report on education was shelved. Malala Yousafzai and her supporters, the Malala Fund, within 48 hours, generated more than 27,000 allies and individuals who mobilized in 134 countries, demanding the report be released. It was not.

Meanwhile, funding for the education of women and girls has dropped, particularly large funders. The United States and the United Kingdom, particularly, have reduced their funding. There is now less funding to meet this critical sustainable development goal for education than there was just a year ago. Another thing that was very specific in the challenge was whether Canada would step up to host the global replenishment, but, no, Senegal and France stepped up.

This is not a failure. This is not a broken promise, not yet. However, I ask the government, I ask the Prime Minister, and I ask the parliamentary secretary this. Will Canada step up and deliver on the promises we made to Malala Yousafzai?

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Whitby Ontario


Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I was to attend a toast to the late Jim Flaherty from my riding of Whitby this evening in support of the Abilities Centre, a project that he and his wife Christine worked hard to ensure came to fruition, so I want at this point to raise a toast from this venue to the late Jim Flaherty in honour of his work on the Abilities Centre.

To answer my hon. colleague's question, we believe that every girl and boy should be able to go to school and complete primary and secondary education, regardless of their circumstances or refugee status. This is in line with Canada's commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

We also believe that gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the promotion of human rights are key Canadian values. Canada integrates attention to gender equality into all issues of development programming and reduces barriers to girls' education. We are providing community-based education, training teachers to address gender discrimination, and preventing gender-based violence in schools.

Canada is also working to end child, early, and forced marriage and to meet girls' water, sanitation, and hygiene needs by providing $75 million to UNICEF for the WinS for Girls initiative. These initiatives emphasize our holistic approach to education, because girls cannot study or do well in school if these issues are not addressed.

Canada also supports increased access to education for girls, including in Kenya and Pakistan, as well as for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon and Jordan. Canada is supporting a multi-donor initiative to meet the Government of Jordan's commitment to ensure that girls and boys, including refugees, have access to public school.

In addition to supporting girls' education, Canada is concerned about the gaps in education for crisis-affected children and refugees. We are providing $20 million to the Education Cannot Wait Fund for emergency education. Under the new Middle East strategy for 2016-2019, our government has so far committed $180 million to education initiatives for children affected by the Syria and Iraq crises.

In addition, Canada is providing $120 million to the Global Partnership for Education to strengthen education systems in 65 developing countries, actively participating in its board and committees, and supporting its work at the country level.

With respect to our work to address the education funding gap in developing countries, Canada was engaging with our G7 partners on the G7's Taormina progress report, which will demonstrate Canada's meaningful progress on education. This includes progress in areas where education outcomes have a direct impact on gender equality, health, inclusive growth, and peace and security. While it is too early to specify what themes Canada will prioritize next year during its G7 presidency, we certainly will build on efforts to strengthen gender equality and women's empowerment, which cannot be achieved without education.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I join the parliamentary secretary in her toast to Jim Flaherty and thank Christine for their work for the Abilities Centre.

What we are looking at in terms of the education of women and girls remains urgent. I know we share a lot of the concerns in this place about that issue. To give the House a sense of the scale, Canada provided $20 million for the Education Cannot Wait Fund, but the fund aims to raise $3.85 billion. We have donated essentially a drop in the bucket. We can do better.

We provided $120 million to the Global Partnership in Education Replenishment campaign. The gap is huge. It needs to raise $3.1 billion for the period 2018-2020.

I know these are challenging things. There are multiple priorities that press on the government, but Malala Yousafzai is a Canadian citizen. I want her to be proud of her country. I want us to lead.

EducationAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, we both agree that the gap is huge. As I mentioned in my speech, we are taking a holistic approach to ensure that girls and boys have the education they need within crises and conflict in fragile zones.

With our new feminist international assistance policy, we are taking a comprehensive approach and ensuring that we are listening to local actors, that we are allowing for programming that listens to women and girls who are on the ground to ensure that once we make those investments in education, things like water and sanitation are also addressed. They also impact whether or not a girl could go to school and effectively thrive in that environment, whether a girl could reach her full potential because she will not be subjected to other acts of violence toward her. We want to make sure that we are looking at this issue comprehensively to ensure that girls can grow and reach their full potential.

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:45 p.m.


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question I am asking tonight has to do with the Prime Minister's vacation that he took, I believe last Christmas, which now is subject to an investigation by the federal Ethics Commissioner, related to his use of private aircraft.

The questions I raised, though, were more to get a sense of where his head space was at in this. I will try to make it relevant to the people in my community.

Alberta is going through a really hard time right now. There are many people out of work in Calgary, and many things have happened in the last two years that have essentially been a kick while they are down. We have seen a carbon tax put in place. We have seen punitive policies from the federal government on the energy sector, such as changing the rules for an environmental assessment midstream.

They are very political decisions, essentially designed to shutdown the energy sector. There are municipal property tax increases, changes in the wage floor in Alberta, and now the small business tax increase. Many people in my community are saying the government is taking a lot from them, but the Prime Minister was taking a vacation. I wanted to know why the Prime Minister thought it was okay to do this, and to give him a chance to explain to my constituents how he thought this was right.

The response that I got was nowhere close to satisfactory. If the Prime Minister was going to take those sorts of actions, he should be able to explain them, and he did not do that. When I told a friend about this situation, he said, “Wow, that's a real super-Gucci vacation that the guy took”, and I agreed with him. It is a bit out of character.

The Prime Minister has asked Canadians to make many sacrifices, and they have not gotten much to show for it. He is kind of saying, “Do as I say, not as I do”, with the Caribbean vacation thing. I am trying to make this very serious.

I know the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary will be responding to this question. Could the parliamentary secretary tell me how he feels about this? I know he also represents a large number of constituents.

Does he feel like he can stand up in this place, and defend the Prime Minister's actions with regard to this vacation, especially in the context of the small business tax? The data is showing the federal debt is increasing, our GDP is not growing, and people are not getting more jobs.

What is it like for the parliamentary secretary to have to defend a Prime Minister who is under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner, will not answer questions about it, and frankly, took a very expensive and high profile, super-Gucci vacation on the taxpayer's dime?

EthicsAdjournment Proceedings

7:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed that the member across the way tries to portray something that is just not true.

Alberta is a province that has gone through a great deal over the last couple of years. This is a government with a very compassionate heart. It has not only expressed its desire to see the province of Alberta move forward but has invested tremendous amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars, through infrastructure. As a government, we are actually seeing pipelines being approved. Both of these examples are things Stephen Harper was not able to achieve.

The member across the way is trying to paint a picture of a bleak future for the province of Alberta. We believe that Alberta is a critical component of Canada's future prosperity and the prosperity of our middle class and those aspiring to be part of Canada's middle class.

This government has worked very hard, day in and day out. The member wants to defend giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Canadians while not supporting tax breaks for Canada's middle class or the other wonderful initiatives this government has undertaken to ensure that we have a growing and healthier middle class. The middle class and those striving to be a part of it are in fact building our country. Thousands of jobs have been created under this administration, and many are in Alberta.

We recognize that there is so much more we can do, and we will continue to move forward. To try to give the false impression that we have a Prime Minister who is not listening to the province of Alberta or any other Canadian is just wrong.

Regarding the question that actually brought us to this point today, I think it is fair to say, as the Prime Minister has said in his answers previously, that this was a personal family vacation with a friend he has known for a very long time. The Prime Minister will answer any questions the commissioner has.

Our government's top priority is to make smart and responsible investments to strengthen the middle class, grow the economy, and prepare Canadians for the economy of tomorrow. Over the past year, our government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. This is a government that has clearly demonstrated, even in the member's own backyard, that there is so much more that we are going to do. To try to give the impression that this government has done anything less than what the Conservative government did in 10 years is just wrong. We have a done a great deal for Albertans, and we will continue to do that.

We recognize the importance of all provinces and territories in our great nation. We will continue to build the economy. We have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs generated under this government in just two years.

We are not giving up on the province of Alberta. Many of the Conservative MPs might have chosen to do that, but rest assured, we are a government that cares deeply about the economy, our middle class, and those who are striving very hard. The policies members will see from this government will clearly demonstrate support for the types of initiatives that are going to make a real difference for all Canadians.