Madam Speaker, with respect to the bill we are about to pass, I would like to begin by commending the Minister of Labour, who, as part of his new portfolio, had to lead a file pertaining to amendments to the Canada Labour Code, in order to strengthen workers' rights. Federally regulated employees, 58% of whom had no sick leave, will be able to access a bank of 10 paid sick days. This is an important step forward in the area of labour law.
The crisis we are going through has revealed how significant and important the presence of workers from all sectors is. All workers definitely contribute to our social and economic fortitude, and they deserve better working conditions.
Yesterday at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, I said that 10 days of sick leave should not be viewed solely as an expense.
Given the labour shortage, employers sometimes fear that they will have to carry a burden. However, the fact that employees seeking stability within their businesses can have benefits like paid sick leave can also be beneficial for employers. It helps attract and retain workers.
Salary is important to a worker, but having the right to annual leave and sick leave counts for a lot, too. We have taken a step forward. I would say to the minister that we have more work to do. There are still many things we need to strengthen in the Canada Labour Code.
In my first debate, I talked about the fact that the government had committed in its budget to raising the minimum wage for federally regulated employees. I think we should move forward on that. We have some great work ahead of us.
Workers can be thankful for the step we have taken, and I commend the work that was done in committee at the two meetings yesterday.
I think that we got the guarantees we were looking for with respect to strengthening the Criminal Code. Labour organizations told us how important this was, especially within the health care sector, since this measure is designed for them. Health care professionals and patients have experienced intimidation or have been prevented from doing their jobs. The act of intimidating a worker or impeding them from doing their job will now be considered an aggravating factor during sentencing.
However, the right to protest and picket is a very important right guaranteed by the Constitution, and many workers have used these methods to gain more rights. While I respect the right to protest, I think that we managed to provide additional protections for health care workers and for patients. We hope to never have reason for this provision of the Criminal Code to be enforced.
At the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, we, along with our Conservative colleagues, had the opportunity to discuss the bereavement leave measure. This is not talked about as much, but we did strengthen the bill by proposing a leave for parents who lose a child under the age of 18. The death of a child has a huge impact on a family and especially on women. This measure is another step forward.
I want to acknowledge the efforts to make improvements in this area, as we see in the report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities that was tabled yesterday in the House.
I think we can leave for the holidays with a sense of mission accomplished. I would not call this a giant leap for humanity, but it is a step toward a better quality of life for all workers.
Here is one more new year's wish: I wish for plenty of improvements to labour legislation.