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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for York Centre (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 71% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tainted Blood April 29th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, consideration of the matter is nearing completion. I can assure the hon. member that every opportunity is being taken to try to expedite the matter, understanding the importance of it.

I must also add that nobody is being denied an opportunity to appear before the commission and have his or her views appropriately heard.

Infrastructure April 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question which gives me the opportunity to give more good news to this House on how this Liberal government is getting Canadians back to work.

Since I reported last Friday, we have an increase of $8 million of projects that have been approved, another 400 people, and we are now up to 5,500 jobs. We have approved over 350 applications and we have another thousand in the pipeline. What is more, there are people in rural Saskatchewan at this very moment constructing and reconstructing roads for the benefit of the citizens in those communities.

Finally, the original estimate of 60,000 jobs has now been revised as a result of accurate data from Statistics Canada.

Infrastructure Program April 22nd, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to bring some good news to members of the House.

The program is up and operating in record breaking time. It is now at a point where we have approved 200 projects worth $300 million. To date 5,000 jobs are to be created by those projects, which puts us well on the path toward the 90,000 jobs we have projected will be created by the program.

There are people now being employed in engineering and design work. There are tenders being called. There are construction workers who will soon be getting out and getting shovels into the ground so we can get Canadians back to work.

Pay Equity April 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pay equity is a priority of this government. Indeed in the past the federal government has reimbursed employees to try to ensure pay equity.

There is a dispute currently before a human rights tribunal. We are presently exploring with the unions the opportunity to try to bring about a settlement in this matter. I hope that will be achieved and I will further report to the House on the matter.

Questions On The Order Paper April 13th, 1994

The Canada infrastructure works program is a series of agreements with the provinces to support regional and local needs over the next three years.

The Canada-Quebec infrastructure agreement was signed February 7, 1994. Under the terms of the agreement, the program in Quebec is divided into four parts: infrastructure repair, expansion and construction for municipalities with a population of 5,000 or more; infrastructure repair, expansion and construction for municipalities with a population of less than 5,000; projects involving new technology, and major projects affecting urban areas.

As in other provinces, there is no specific allocation to programs such as SchoolNet or to other similar programs, but the criteria would allow for projects that could support the use of SchoolNet. To date, no proposals have been made to the province of Quebec regarding SchoolNet or the school boards.

Public Service March 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, the first annual report on employment equity in the public service which I just tabled is a requirement of the Financial

Administration Act as a result of amendments that were passed in December 1992 as part of the Public Service Reform Act.

I would like to remind hon. members of the important role-those who were of course in the last House will recognize this-that my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West, played in ensuring that this report would be tabled in the House.

Indeed, when the act was in committee she introduced an amendment that the government of the day accepted and that became the section on employment equity in the Financial Administration Act.

In speaking in the committee the hon. member for Ottawa West said that the amendment represented a renewed commitment to some very positive action to ensure that people in the four designated groups are no longer denied opportunities to be whatever they are capable of being in the public service of this country.

To return to the annual report that I have tabled, I should note that the Treasury Board has been publishing employment equity data since 1988.

These information packages which were made available to the public, although not tabled in this Parliament, have provided useful information on the state of employment equity in the public service.

However, they did not show the range of positive initiatives and activities that the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission together with departments had been taking to advance the goals of employment equity programs.

The annual report that I have just tabled tries to fill that gap. As the act states, the purpose of employment equity programs and policies in the public service is to improve employment and career opportunities for four designated groups. They are women, particularly women in non-traditional and executive positions, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and, finally, persons who because of their race or colour are in a visible minority.

How are we to achieve this result: By eliminating employment barriers against persons in designated groups; by introducing and supporting, as the legislation requires, positive policies and practices; and by trying to ensure that persons in designated groups are represented in the public service in proportion to their representation in the workforce of this country and of the particular communities they serve in. However, focusing on the number of designated group members in the public service is not enough. Public service managers and employees must value diversity and must show it consistently through their actions.

At this time I want to reiterate the government's commitment to employment equity and specifically its commitment to employment equity in the public service. It was in the red book, we made that point and we stick by it.

The numerical goal of employment equity may be more difficult to achieve in times when the public service has stopped growing. However, let me assure hon. members that the employment equity program is a high priority of this government and that we will do everything possible to ensure that its goals are met.

For example, just three months ago, we made a lot of changes to the Special Measures Program that was put in place by a Liberal government in 1983.

The report does not provide details of these revisions because it covers the period April 1, 1992 to March 31, 1993 which is before we came into office. However, I would like to inform the House that the Treasury Board has approved funding for a restructured special measures initiative program which will provide for pilot projects co-funded with departments that help increase our employment equity opportunities.

One of these initiatives aims to improve, for example, employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the public service.

As of April 1, 1994, I am pleased to announce that a special fund of $500,000 will be created to assist employees with disabilities. This is replacing a program that was a mere $40,000 I might add. This assistance includes attendant care, modifications to computer equipment, materials and alternative formats and special telephone equipment.

Second, retention of aboriginal employees is of concern to the government. The Treasury Board is developing a guide for managers to help them create a work environment that will encourage aboriginal employees to join and to remain in the public service.

Furthermore, an executive development program for persons in a visible minority is being extended. Of course the recruitment program for visible minorities is also being continued.

The progress of women in the public service has been steady and we shall be putting more emphasis on the development of opportunities for women in the public service.

Courses on cultural awareness and diversity in the workforce are widely available to both public service managers and employees who are encouraged to take such training. It is important to set the right atmosphere in our public service and that kind of program helps a great deal.

Finally, the Financial Administration Act requires the Treasury Board to prepare annual employment equity plans. All departments and agencies are required to have employment equity plans ready by this coming April 1, 1994. Anyone interested may obtain copies of the plans from departments and agencies.

I also invite members of this House to make suggestions on how, since this is our first report, we might improve the annual report on employment equity.

Public Service Employment Equity March 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to subsection 2.4 of section 11 of the Financial Administration Act I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the first ever annual report of the President of the Treasury Board on the state of employment equity in the public service. This deals with the fiscal year 1992-93.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 March 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, one of the many groups of Canadians that are affected by Bill C-17 is the Public Service of Canada. When we came to power we found the public service under considerable stress. We have already started the rebuilding process and by the end of our mandate we expect the public service will have recovered its full ability to serve Canadians.

The wage and increment freeze which was announced in the budget is a difficult but necessary measure. The freeze which ensures that $1 billion can be booked in the fiscal framework to be reached in the year 1996-97 is something I recognize that public service employees will not welcome with open arms. But, frankly, we are freezing salaries to save jobs.

This government also announced in the budget an efficiency in program review aimed at reducing the cost of government. How that is connected is that if we find enough savings to meet the reduced departmental expenditure targets, we can apply the additional efficiency savings to reducing the length of the wage freeze.

Though the cool reception of many union leaders to the freeze of wages and increments announced in the budget is certainly understandable, I want to place our actions in perspective and show that we have been as fair as we could be to the public service in the present circumstances. I am confident that public service employees will accept this budget, especially when they understand the sacrifices that we are asking all Canadians, other groups of Canadians, to accept as well.

Most Canadians do not suspect how much they owe their quality of life to the employees of the Public Service of Canada. Let me give you three examples of the contribution of public servants to Canadians' welfare.

For more than 150 years members of the Geological Survey of Canada, using them as an example, have mapped the mineral resources of this country. This year and in future years commercial exploration will take place and new mines will open because of the work that is being done now by these public service employees.

Canada, as we well know and appreciate and as I have said many times, has just about the most respected police force in the world. Indeed, it is a national symbol. Everywhere Canadians are safer because of the work of policemen and policewomen of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Every Canadian who flies in this country as we all do benefits from a network of services that the Government of Canada has developed and maintains. The maps used to fly the planes, the air traffic controllers that guide them through the air, the weather warning systems, all come from the public service.

The organizations and people working for government are too diverse for any less to do justice to them. In addition to the people I have just mentioned, the examples I have given, are

peacekeepers, scientists, postmen and postwomen, grain inspectors, trade negotiators and on and on.

The purpose of this list is not just to catalogue the jobs that government employees do but, more important, it illustrates the real and substantial value of these jobs. The people of Canada are getting a good deal from the people who serve them.

Public service employees have long accepted the notion that although they would never get rich working in the public service, they would at least feel more secure in terms of job security than perhaps in some other sectors.

The main source of employment security for our employees is this government's policy to preserve jobs for Canadians. The main instrument of this policy in the public service is the workforce adjustment directive. In essence this directive says that no employee will be laid off because of reductions in the workforce unless he or she has received another reasonable job offer, provided the employee is mobile and willing to be retrained where necessary.

The previous government made it clear that its intention was to legislate unilaterally an end to the employment security features of workforce adjustment. It was saying to affected employees that it was only a matter of time before they would be out the door. Remember that phrase pink slips and running shoes?

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that you can realize the effect that this would have on the morale of the public service and its capacity to deliver quality service to Canadians. That is why the government will make no changes to the employment security features affecting workforce adjustment without agreement of the public service unions. In other words, it is subject to negotiations. They may want changes, we may want changes. We are not going to act unilaterally as the previous government had suggested it would do.

This government has no dogma about downsizing the public service. Our priority is and will continue to be to provide quality service to Canadians in the most efficient way possible. Of course some departments will shrink, others may even grow.

Our objective will therefore be to help employees affected by the cuts in some departments to obtain another position in the public service or elsewhere. Specific measures are provided for this purpose.

First, we shall continue to limit external recruitment and improve the management of the priority staffing process for employees whose positions are being eliminated.

Second, we shall ensure that departments have access to the incremental funds that they need to train for new jobs those employees who are affected by the workforce adjustment. When departments have additional training requirements because of this program the Treasury Board will provide central funding to complement departmental budgets for that purpose.

I would like to turn to the measures in this bill and explain their origins. The measures are a realistic combination of two elements. First, the budget recognizes that it is necessary for the attack on the deficit to book savings from the operating funds of departments through a wage freeze.

Second, it creates an opportunity for public service managers and employees to find more efficiency savings in an effort to shorten the duration of the wage freeze. Bill C-17 extends for a further two years the wage freeze for the Governor General, the lieutenant governors, federally appointed judges, members of Parliament and senators, members of the armed forces, RCMP as well as the employees of the public service. Why are we freezing salaries and suspending pay increments? Why are we taking these measures when the existing freeze still has another year to run? Public service employees deserve and need the answers to these questions.

The Minister of Finance gave the most evident and compelling reason for the freeze in his budget address. Simply put, there is no money for increases. The total salary costs of the government amount to $18.5 billion, thus making salaries a very important part of federal expenditures.

Though the government would rather proceed by negotiation than by legislation, I am convinced there really was not a reasonable alternative. In my consultations with our unions-and I did have prebudget consultations; other people engaged in them as well-they made it absolutely clear they had no interest in negotiating concessions. I understand that point of view.

If we had waited until the 1995 budget, a year from now, several bargaining units would have already been eligible to start negotiations and could have been off seeking third party arbitration by that point in time. Rather than let those processes begin under false premises we decided, albeit most reluctantly, to act this year in the budget and in this bill.

Bill C-17 also suspends normal pay increments. These increments, which are the pay increases automatically awarded to employees as they gain experience in new jobs, are common in both the public and private sector. We have chosen to suspend them because they were allowing a substantial number of public service employees to continue to get pay increases while their colleagues' salaries were frozen. The freeze on increments will put everybody in the same boat for the next two years. At the

same time this two-year measure on increments will reduce costs by some $400 million.

I might add that even in the years where there were zero increases in the existing legislation for wages the actual wage bill was going up at about 3 per cent because of the increments.

Though Bill C-17 does not allow the government to shorten or lift the freeze-it is not in the wording that we see before us-the government has made a very clear commitment to do so if efficiency savings in operating costs by December 31 of this year warrant it. Therefore we will make the decision on the freeze and our opportunity to lift the freeze, if it can be done, in the run-up to the 1995 budget.

The government is initiating a review of its operations, I think it is important to point out, to generate efficiency savings, reduce overlap and duplication, and eliminate low priority programs. The review for which my ministry will be responsible is intended to produce results by the end of December for use in the planning of the 1995 budget.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister responsible for Public Service Renewal will lead with one component of the review that will focus on government programs, the roles and responsibilities. It will determine what services the government should provide and what services the taxpayer can in fact afford. It will also seek to eliminate overlap and duplication both within the federal government and among other levels of government and to reduce or eliminate programs that are no longer a priority. The efficiency component of the review will concentrate on increasing the efficiency of government operations. The emphasis will be on how to deliver existing services more cheaply.

We have invited public service unions to contribute to the review with a focus on efficiency at two levels: national unions working on issues with the Treasury Board secretariat on governmentwide savings, and local components of the unions working with departmental management on efficiency savings in each department in each locale in the country.

My parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West, is meeting with union representatives this week to explore the most productive ways for them to participate in the review. We hope the review will generate savings over and above the restraint measures that this and previous budgets have put in place.

The added savings from changing government programs will be available for such purposes as reducing the deficit, reallocating funds to other major programs or shortening the length of the wage freeze. The government's decision on what to do with these savings will be part of the 1995 budget.

The government believes that unions, managers and employees share a common desire to serve Canada well. We therefore want to put before the public service unions and the employees a broad range of issues for them to consider at various times and in various forums. The unions have proposed several of these issues for joint resolution. Management will suggest others.

Here are some examples. For years the issue of contracted services has been a bone of contention among public service unions, managers and government. The unions see it as an attack on their members, while others consider it a cost effective way of doing business. We want to look at all aspects of the issue and make the best decisions for the people receiving our services and for taxpayers.

I have made a commitment to provide the Standing Committee on Government Operations with detailed information on contracting for services in the federal government. I have suggested to the committee that it undertake a broad review of the subject, here again opening to members of Parliament the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process.

In announcing the decision I wish to thank my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Ottawa West. Through the years of the previous government she and other members from the national capital region kept Parliament's interest in the public service alive. I know they are ready to make a strong contribution to the committee, as will members from across the country. After all, the public service is not just an Ottawa institution. I should point out that two-thirds of its members are located outside the national capital region in all parts of Canada.

The parliamentary committee may wish from time to time to examine other public service issues. The government remains committed to its employees and to their employment security. We intend to stabilize public service employment levels as much as we can. Nevertheless we must have the flexibility to make program adjustments as the needs of Canadians evolve.

Accordingly we will seek to make some modifications to the existing workforce adjustment directive, but we shall do so with the public service bargaining agents through the negotiation process that is now in place. They want changes as well.

Let me deal with pension management for a moment. There are compelling reasons for fundamental reform of major federal public service pension plans. The Public Service Superannuation Act, for example, is more than 40 years old and subject to criticism from several quarters. Plan members seek greater security of benefits. Taxpayers see the unlimited indexing of benefits as overly generous. The Auditor General has advocated changes to the plan's funding arrangements. Public service unions seek a greater voice in designing and managing the plan.

The government is determined to respond to these concerns with reforms that make the plan simpler, more affordable and easier to manage. We will develop the reforms in partnership with my advisory committee which comprises representatives of the plan's major stakeholders including the public service unions. We will renew the mandate of the advisory committee to develop a strategy for the complete overhaul of the program and to produce a framework for a replacement.

The Government of Canada and its employee unions have been unable to come to a full resolution on the issue of equal pay for work of equal value. Indeed the issue is now before a human rights tribunal where it could sit unresolved for another two years if no means are found to settle the matter through negotiation.

At the same time, to make it easier to resolve pay equity concerns in the long term we need fundamental changes in the job classification and remuneration structures of the public service. I am looking forward to trying to find a less confrontational way of ensuring that employees receive compensation that is in fact gender neutral. We are looking for ways to try to bring about a negotiated settlement of the matter.

The notions of what is a job and what is work are changing. We are moving away from the 9 to 5 routine, the old office and factory of the age of industry. For example, more work is being done at home under a policy that we have: Treasury Board's three-year Telework pilot project. Work schedules have to be adjusted to the needs of clients. We need to be more flexible. We need to change the structure of work. As the public service unions and managers have a big role to play in the evolution, this topic will be on the table for joint action.

I raise all of these matters, as I reach my conclusion, to illustrate that even though there is a wage freeze, which means we cannot go to the bargaining table on wages, we can go to the bargaining table to attempt to deal with a number of other issues. These are just examples. There are others that both we and the unions want to raise at the table. Through those means we will help to build the relationship between employer and employee over the years ahead.

I hope my remarks have made clear the main elements of the approach the government will take with the public service.

To begin with, we respect and are fully aware of the contribution to be made by employees of the Public Service of Canada.

We shall seek the broadest possible dialogue with public service unions and managers.

We will involve Parliament closely in all the major issues affecting the public service.

When necessary we shall act directly through legislation to ensure that the government's fiscal requirements are met. We shall respect the employment security of public service employees. I summarize these principles because they will guide all our actions. We expect to be held to them and I welcome that.

Let me conclude where I began. This is a responsible budget. A responsible bill flows from that budget. I look forward to working with the managers and the union leaders of the public service in implementing the budget measures that I have just discussed.

Budget Implementation Act, 1994 March 25th, 1994

moved that Bill C-17, an act to amend certain statutes to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 22, 1994 be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Interim Supply March 22nd, 1994

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division: