Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to rise to speak to Bill C-3, very important legislation that covers two aspects of providing for our health care workers, especially during this pandemic.
The latter half of the bill specifically addresses the issue of paid sick leave and how important it is to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their bills and going to work. When people are sick, as we have learned through this pandemic, we do not want them going to work and participating in an environment where they could potentially be passing along illness to other people. When we are sick or do not feel well, it is important we stay home. To that end, we need the proper legislation in place to protect workers and give them that flexibility so they can take the proper measures to protect themselves.
The other part of the bill, which I will focus a little more on, specifically ensures that proper measures are put into our Criminal Code to protect individuals from being harassed on their way to and from work, in particular, health care professionals. When the bill was introduced, I was extremely happy to hear about the measures that would be put in place.
There was an extremely unfortunate incident at Kingston General Hospital at the beginning of the election campaign, when protests were gaining speed and traction. A group of people chose to protest not just in front of Kingston General Hospital, but right in front of the cancer clinic at the hospital. Folks going to receive their cancer treatments and then leaving were being harassed by a protest group that yelled insults. In addition, those serving on the front line, the nurses and doctors, were being harassed as they were going in and out of the hospital. It is absolutely ridiculous that we even need to have this debate or that we have a requirement for legislation. However, unfortunate incidents have been popping up, such as the one most recently in my community of Kingston and the Islands.
Perhaps it was the nature of the election taking place at the time that really added fuel to the fire. The unfortunate part about the campaign was that it was taking a political lens. The People's Party of Canada was really promoting this event. People's Party of Canada signs were in front of the hospital during this protest. By and large, on Twitter, it was the People's Party and its supporters who were promoting this event to take place. Of course, they did it all in the name of civil liberties, believing that somehow liberties had been breached during the pandemic, which I find extremely alarming.
Even though the People's Party did not win any seats in this place, I still find it concerning when members of the House attempt to play footsies with the issue of civil liberties being in jeopardy during the pandemic. Unfortunately, I am reminded of the more recently formed Conservative liberties caucus, the freedom fighters caucus, whatever it is called, which consists of approximately 15 to 30 Conservative members of Parliament and senators, who somehow find it their job to stand up for the liberties that have been infringed upon during the pandemic. I believe that every person in the House believes strongly that people are entitled to certain rights afforded them under the charter and that, indeed, no person's rights have been infringed upon during the pandemic. However, this is not the way it is being interpreted. When leaders are helping to fuel the fire through their actions and words, it only further instills within the people who are leading these protests to go out there, to charge and suggest they somehow need to be protected.
We end up with what I described in my riding of Kingston and the Islands in front of the Kingston General Hospital: an event where there were about 50 people yelling, screaming and hurling insults and accusations toward not just health care professionals, the nurses and the doctors coming and going from the hospital, but indeed people entering the cancer clinic at Kingston General Hospital and people who were leaving immediately following treatments.
Members can imagine the public outcry against this type of activity that was going on. It was quite a bit, and there was a lot of anger and frustration from the community, but at the same time it provided an opportunity for a certain degree of empowerment in this group.
This legislation specifically seeks to make this type of activity something that is not permissible in the Criminal Code and indeed that people can be held accountable for. I am extremely happy to see this legislation that we committed to during the election come forward so quickly. I want to see this get to committee as quickly as possible so it can be properly studied. As I have been listening to the debate today, some of my colleagues have raised questions about the content of the bill and how that will be affected. I think back to the previous question from the NDP member, and these are good questions and things to study at committee, where we can hash out the details to ensure that this legislation is the best it can be.
The reality of Bill C-3 is that it is a commitment to Canadians. It is a commitment that we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour around health care facilities that are providing services. The frontline workers are there to provide services to our communities. We will not allow people to participate in activities that intimidate, harass or threaten their ability to move freely in and out of such a facility in order to provide these frontline services.
I know I am close to question period and I am happy to begin my five minutes of questions, but I want to say I am very glad the bill is before us. I want it to move quickly to committee so it can be thoroughly examined and reported back to the House and we can pass it into legislation.