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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Jonquière (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Taxpayer Bill of Rights April 18th, 2016

Madam Speaker, any time the Conservatives introduce a bill or move a motion, it always leaves me a little perplexed. From the title of today's motion, one might actually believe that they finally understand that we need to provide services to Canadians and be there for them. As the expression goes, however, the devil is in the details. In this case, the devil is all over Motion No. 43. This is just one more example of that party's tried and true tactics to mislead the public. That is why it was imperative that the previous government be replaced.

I am proud to represent the riding of Jonquière, and every time I rise in the House, I feel duty bound to represent the people of my region to the best of my ability. When I ran for office, I had a clear idea in mind: to try to improve the daily lives of Canadians and defend and promote their rights. It was with this in mind that I introduced my bill to ban replacement workers in order to protect Canadian workers. However, in the case of the motion currently before the House, I unfortunately do not have the sense that we are defending the interests of our constituents.

Motion M-43 makes no sense. Let me briefly explain why. First, when the ombudsman position was created by the Conservatives in 2007, there was never any question of giving that person this type of power. The ombudsman had the power to assess service delivery only. It was made very clear that the ombudsman was not to review the administration or application of tax legislation, unless that review was on service-related matters.

The Conservatives created an ombudsman position to defend the interests of our constituents without providing the necessary tools to do so. Now that they are no longer in power, they suddenly would like to provide the ombudsman with those tools. I call that bad faith. Speaking of bad faith, the Conservatives are smearing public servants and the service they provide. That is unacceptable.

I am proud of Canada's public servants, the services they provide, and their professionalism. When they are not given the money they need to do their jobs properly, that is when we run into problems. There have been so many cuts since 2012. The last budget cut $314 million, eliminating jobs and a direct service.

In my riding of Jonquière, I have seen direct services being provided to people. People would wait for officers' lunch break to seek help and answers either because they could not afford Internet service or because they were unable to reach an officer by telephone as a result of the cuts in services at the CRA. These people needed to talk to someone and, because of the recent cuts, they were unable to get an answer. However, that is not because public servants are doing a poor job, but because their job has been eliminated.

I want to say that public servants do very good work and that they have to have the resources that will enable them to continue providing these services to Canadians.

Forestry Industry April 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the forestry industry is at a crossroads.

In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, many workers depend on the forestry industry. Protecting the future of our forestry jobs must be a priority.

The softwood lumber agreement has expired. The government will have to defend our forestry industry, despite heavy pressure from the U.S.

The 18% surtax on calendered paper is jeopardizing our jobs in Kénogami and Dolbeau, but the government is dragging its feet on this issue.

I urge the government to consider how important the forestry industry is in our region and to do something to protect forestry workers and their role in our economies.

Canada Labour Code April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comment.

There is no increase in the number of strikes or lockouts, depending on the study and those conducting it, of course.

When locked out or striking workers are in the streets not earning a paycheque and they see replacement workers going to do their work in their place, under the working conditions that they negotiated and work in day and night thanks to an established organization, that stokes frustration, anger, and violence.

That is what we are trying to avoid. We want to enable negotiations between the parties as equals, and we want clear provisions so that there is no room for interpretation in the Canada Labour Code.

Canada Labour Code April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. What he said is true.

In 2006, the government carried out a study of the Canada Labour Code, but there was no follow up. It is important to study the bill at second reading so that we can make amendments.

I agree that we should not be introducing piecemeal bills, and that instead we should be doing a study, since many changes are needed. However, my only option right now is to propose piecemeal changes by introducing bills.

I hope that we can continue with this study, since it is time to modernize the Canada Labour Code. Nothing has been done in the past 10 years.

Canada Labour Code April 12th, 2016

moved that Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to begin the debate on the bill to amend the Canada Labour Code.

This enactment amends the Canada Labour Code to make it an offence for employers to hire replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

In other words, the bill seeks to prohibit replacement workers, commonly known as scabs, at the federal level. Passing this bill would send a clear message to workers across the country that they have the right to bargain collectively as equals.

The NDP thinks it is important to promote workers' rights. I am introducing this long-overdue bill in my role as the deputy labour critic and on behalf of the progressive opposition.

In Canada, over 12,000 businesses and 820,000 workers are governed by the Canada Labour Code. We have been putting this measure forward for the past 10 years.

However, workers were clearly not a priority for the previous government. We were therefore not surprised that it rejected this measure. Today, we sincerely hope that the Liberal government will be open to this measure.

This bill will amend and modernize the Canada Labour Code in order to prohibit employers from hiring strikebreakers to do the work of employees in the event of a strike or lockout.

In other words, we want to put in place, at the federal level, the same types of provisions that already exist in some provinces, such as Quebec and British Columbia.

We also included a “Québecor clause” in the changes to the Canada Labour Code. Members will recall the events that occurred in Quebec during a Journal de Québec lockout, when the company took advantage of a loophole in the regrettable Quebec law on strikebreakers and continued to print the paper during the lockout.

The Court of Appeal sided with Québecor and ruled that the Quebec law did not prohibit telework. It is important to modernize the Canada Labour Code in order to prevent the use of replacement workers through telework.

We also added the use of other establishments to do the work of the bargaining unit that is on strike or locked out.

In my riding, Jonquière, I have seen a number of labour disputes. In a given year, there are labour conflicts right across Canada, but in my former capacity, I saw some in the riding of Jonquière.

It is tough to see workers who want to negotiate with their employer, because it is truly difficult. Renewing a collective agreement can create tension on both sides.

However, when the legal provisions ensure that we negotiate as equals, that establishes a balance of power. This ensures that both the employer and the workers can negotiate in good fath, and that is critically important.

Many stakeholders are calling for and supporting this bill.

Mark Hancock, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said:

CUPE welcomes this legislation, which would give employers more incentive to sit down and negotiate with workers and could lead to fewer and shorter strikes and lockouts.

In recent years, since we are seeing fewer strikes and more lockouts, it has become more common, during the course of negotiations, for employers to no longer want to negotiate while the employees are locked out. This legislation would help prompt employers to negotiate, because they can no longer hire other workers while the employees are locked out. It is therefore extremely important to negotiating as equals.

Another union president, Mike Palecek, president of CUPW, joined us at our press conference to support the bill. During the presentation, he pointed out the importance of promoting free collective bargaining and the fact that using replacement workers undermines labour relations.

Ken Neumann, the national director of the United Steelworkers, issued a press release on February 25 that states, “The Steelworkers union welcomes these changes to the Canada Labour Code. If passed, this law will stop the unfairness of employers using replacement workers during strikes and lockouts. Thanks to the NDP for once again introducing this bill that will benefit workers and employers and contribute to our nation’s productivity”.

It is important to know that this change to the Canada Labour Code, regarding both teleworking and preventing the use of replacement workers inside as well as outside the facility, is important to bargaining. This does not poison the debate, but can at least help to ensure negotiations occur on an equal footing.

I always enjoy giving a little reminder to anyone who still does not see the reason for the union movement. I want to point out a few things.

It is thanks to unions and the labour movement that we now have a minimum wage, paid overtime, occupational safety standards, parental and maternity leave, paid vacation, and protection from discrimination and sexual harassment.

Unions work hard every day to stand up for those hard-fought rights and to continue winning new rights for all workers.

Our unions are social unions that focus not only on the benefits that can be gained from collective bargaining, but also on the victories that can be achieved in the interest of society as a whole. For example, they fight to put an end to child labour or to ensure that an employee injured at work gets compensation through workers' compensation. They fight for public pensions and social programs that help people contribute to work, such as health care and child care services.

Although workers have made progress in the past few decades, a great deal of injustice remains. That is why starting with a small step and changing and updating the Canada Labour Code is important to me and the NDP.

We voted on a pay equity motion moved here in the House by the NDP not so long ago.

I thank all parties here in the House for supporting that motion, but I am disappointed that we are still fighting for pay equity in 2016.

At this time of economic slowdown, I think it is worth mentioning that the World Bank has found that a high rate of unionization leads to greater income equality, lower unemployment and inflation, higher productivity, and a quicker response to economic downturns.

Speaking of equality, or rather inequality, I believe it is important to point out that there is a major problem in our society when the wealthiest 1% now possess more wealth than the rest of the world put together and the wealthiest 62 people on earth own as much as the poorest 3.6 billion people.

The Panama papers also reveal a strategy for massive tax avoidance.

In the end, it is not up to workers to pay the government back for all the money taken by major corporations, money that belonged to Canadians.

If I were asked whether we could better protect workers' right to negotiate their collective agreement and working conditions in a fair manner and as equals, I believe that the answer would be “yes”.

Not only can we protect workers' rights, but we can look to those who belong to the 1% to pay what is owed to the government in taxes. Protecting the right to negotiate is one aspect of the notion that we can build a fairer and more equal society. That is good for the economy, workers, and their families.

In my riding, one labour conflict went on for three years. During that time, families wound up homeless and broken. There were many separations, and we saw people who were completely lost and did not know where to turn. No one wants those kinds of conflicts. That is why we have to amend the Canada Labour Code so that we have a fair and equitable negotiation process.

The labour code can be improved based on the standards set in Quebec and British Columbia. We can ensure that people who are put out on the streets because of a lockout or strike during a period of negotiations will not have to worry. They will know that if the employer locks them out, no one will be hired to do the work in their place, often for lower wages.

The NDP knows that it is essential that both parties are respected when negotiations are taking place. The company and the workers must both be respected. We want to ensure that the parties meet as equals during negotiations.

It is simply unfair for employers to hire replacement workers to undermine workers' ability to exercise their rights, since the company continues to produce and make money. That is unfair to the workers who have been locked out.

We believe that the bargaining rights of workers who are on strike or have been locked out should not be undermined. That is really important. I hope that members of the House will understand the importance of modernizing the Canada Labour Code. It is 2016. We can and must do something for both companies and workers.

The option to use telework if more than one establishment is on strike or lockout does not allow for negotiation between equals. I hope that my colleagues here in the House will understand that it is vitally important to amend the Canada Labour Code.

I hope that my colleagues will support this bill, since over the past 14 years, some of them have introduced similar bills to amend the Canada Labour Code. I hope that the bill will make it to second reading, that we will examine it in committee, and that we will be able to modernize the Canada Labour Code.

Employment Insurance March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are planning to implement an unfair two-tiered employment insurance system. The benefit period will be extended by five weeks in 12 regions of the country, but none of the regions of Quebec will benefit. There is nothing for the Gaspé or for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean in particular.

The people there need help too. The government is going to divert $7 billion from the employment insurance fund and, to top it all off, it is going to exclude seasonal workers and workers in Quebec.

Is the minister not ashamed of this measure?

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her very good question.

I believe that the bill should cover harassment. It is important because it forms part of a whole. The committee will have the opportunity to study the bill, make amendments and include this issue.

The committee could establish all the issues and whether some provisions are in the bill or are to be negotiated. Ensuring public safety is always the top issue. Public safety must never be jeopardized. Clear directives must always be put in place. It will be important to make amendments.

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent question.

When I was president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, I had to conduct negotiations. When people think of a union or association, they often think that the negotiations are only about wages and benefits. However, it is about much more than that, because there can be different needs.

More and more women are working for the RCMP. Some types of jobs were designed for women. Take the uniform, for example. It may require modifications. We have to ensure safety and prevent harassment. Even though it is a police force, there can be harassment on both sides, and from within or outside the organization. Negotiations allow the members, the police officers, to have a say and make actual changes.

Who is in the best position to make changes? The workers.

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

As far as daily work is concerned, I will give the example of my father, who investigated fraud or drug-related offences. When police officers had to investigate or conduct surveillance, their safety was an issue every day. That is the nature of the work that RCMP officers do, in addition to keeping us safe. We see them every day on the Hill. They put themselves in harm's way right before our eyes. In more remote areas, they are on the front line. They are the first responders. Often, they are alone when they do their work.

It is therefore very important to take into consideration every aspect of the work that a police officer does for the RCMP. They have the power to make changes and negotiate for their safety.

Public Service Labour Relations Act March 24th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-7.

I would like to start by commending the RCMP on the excellent work it does. We sometimes forget about everything that happens behind the scenes to keep us safe as we go about our day all across the country. These men and women work all year long in all kinds of areas, including commercial crimes, drugs, and investigations, but they work primarily on keeping us safe and secure.

This week's attacks in Brussels were a brutal reminder of how fragile that security is and how privileged we are to have a capable and reliable police force.

I say this from personal experience, since my father worked for the RCMP for 34 years. He was a sergeant in his section, and throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was a witness to what he went through on a daily basis. On many occasions, my father had to leave home to go work for days, weeks, and once even several months at a time, to help keep Canadians safe.

We worried about him and his safety every day. My father was always committed to his work. Even at his office, doing his day-to-day work, his primary concern was the safety of those who worked with him.

It is thanks to my father that I am here today in the House and I can speak to this matter. My life experience has made me the strong political woman I am today, and my father made sure of that. I am extremely proud and I want to acknowledge him here in the House. I want to say a very big thank you to him. I am honoured to be able to talk about his work, his life, and of course, the bargaining rights of all RCMP members.

I would remind the House that Gaétan Delisle, a labour representative with the RCMP C division in Quebec City, led the fight for bargaining rights for RCMP members. Mr. Delisle's career path was never easy. He was even suspended a few times, because he wanted to form an association and secure the right to collective bargaining.

Respecting our men and women in uniform means more than just thanking them for their good work. They also have rights, of course, and those rights must be respected. The right to bargain collectively is one such right, and a very important one at that.

I introduced a bill that promotes these rights. The recognition of workers' right to bargain is important in every sector and in every respect. I know a thing or two about that, considering my union background. Bargaining and workers' right to health and safety were part of my everyday life.

The NDP is of the opinion that RCMP members should have the same rights that are enjoyed by every other police force in Canada, including the right to collective bargaining. Obviously, RCMP members should have the right to the best conditions when it comes to workplace health and safety. We would like to see RCMP members have a real collective bargaining process that goes beyond issues of pay and benefits. When we talk about organizing, people often think it is just to deal with benefits and salaries. However, it is much more than that. There are many issues that can be discussed and brought forward. The members who are doing the work every day can make changes when it comes to health and safety, for example.

Creating a new regime for negotiating collective agreements will help improve labour relations. I believe that it is fair and just for all members of the RCMP, who work hard day and night to keep Canadians safe.

I would like to reiterate the comments made by my colleagues who pointed out in their speeches that the NDP is quite concerned about some of the issues, such as harassment and health and safety, that are excluded from the bill.

The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that the most important aspect of collective bargaining is the employees' freedom to pursue their own work goals within their workplace.

I believe it is important to highlight one part of the Supreme Court ruling, which reads as follows:

First, it is not apparent how an exclusion from a statutorily protected collective bargaining process ensures neutrality, stability or even reliability. The exclusion of RCMP members from the federal public service collective bargaining regime...fostered, rather than inhibited, dissatisfaction and unrest within the RCMP.

Second, it is not established that permitting meaningful collective bargaining for RCMP members will disrupt the stability of the police force or affect the public’s perception of its neutrality. The government offered no persuasive evidence to that effect. Empirical research tends to show the opposite, as does provincial experience with unionized police forces...

There are times when RCMP members have to respond to calls alone, often in remote or northern communities, for example. Their health, their safety, and even their security must be guaranteed as they go out and do their job with such dedication, day in and day out.

We believe that the time has come to allow employees who work on the ground to come to the table, to negotiate as equals and to decide how some of these issues are going to be dealt with. The employees themselves are likely to have some very practical solutions to help the police force operate more effectively. By giving them these rights, we can show that we respect the work they have to do and that we recognize them as human beings.

Uniformed police officers are heros, regardless of the situation. Underneath those uniforms, however, are human beings. We need to keep that in mind and give them the power to bargain and make changes to ensure their own safety.

This bill provides an opportunity for us to respect the spirit of what collective bargaining should be. We recognize the RCMP's unique role as Canada's national police force, as well as the importance of the rights of our men and women in uniform and of giving them a means to uphold those rights.

This is why we believe the bill should go to committee for further study, so that it can be examined more closely and amended in consideration of RCMP members, the men and women who go to work every day to keep us safe.

Out of respect for them, everyone should vote in favour of this bill at second reading in the House and send it to committee for further study.

We will be looking for arguments from government in support of specific exclusions. In the absence of those arguments, we will be presenting proposals to improve this legislation and make sure that RCMP members get the right to bargain collectively, both in the spirit and the letter of the law.