House of Commons photo

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

Canada Labour Code February 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, the unions themselves have to be accountable to their members. Members pay union dues and union locals already have well-established rules. It is an obligation.

Every union has to be accountable to its members, and if those members are not satisfied, then they have recourse to a challenge process and an independent committee. This process works and the government does not need to be involved.

Canada Labour Code February 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks. That is a very good question.

People always have a tendency to exaggerate when it comes to unions. We are therefore wondering whether the Conservatives were exaggerating when they spoke about union fat cats who cheat and who do not support all areas of policy. There is reason to wonder.

As I was saying in my speech, members already have access to a complaint process. If they feel wronged, they can lodge a complaint through an independent committee, which will consider the matter.

That is why we are in favour of Bill C-4. We support all workers.

Canada Labour Code February 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Essex.

I am pleased to rise in the House to debate Bill C-4, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act. First of all, I would like to indicate that I will be supporting this bill. The NDP strongly opposed the previous Conservative government's attempt to limit the rights of unions and change the rules governing labour relations.

This bill reflects one of the promises made by the NDP during the election campaign. Although I support this bill, I must mention how much work still needs to be done with regard to workers' rights and their working conditions.

The bill restores and respects workers' rights. Like thousands of other people in my riding of Jonquière, I am very proud to have been a part of the labour movement. I was the president of my local chapter for eight years, and I managed it well.

Since we started debating Bill C-4, I cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness about many of the comments I have heard here in the House. For eight years, I was directly accountable to my members at meetings and even at my workplace. I had to deal with some very sensitive issues with my members and defend both long-time and new employees.

At union meetings we had a duty to present our financial statements to members. The same goes for all locals, in all unions. The members themselves must decide whether they agree with the spending their union is doing within their own organization. We must be transparent and accountable to our members. That is enshrined in all of our laws, and all unions must comply.

Over those eight years, I did so and we even implemented an audit system, which also exists in all unions. Our union has an officer to look over all the books and statements. I must say that when there is an anomaly, for example, if an invoice is missing or if an expenditure was left out or made by mistake, we are set straight and we are always accountable to this movement and our members.

Unions and their members do not need a government telling them what to do because they already have their regulations. They already have their own rules, rules that the members voted on either in meetings or in committees that are themselves elected by the members. Transparency is already part of the process, and leaders are accountable to union members every step of the way.

If a worker finds fault with the union's internal processes or the representatives, there is a great organization to handle that: the Canada Industrial Relations Board, the CIRB. The board is there for those people. It is impartial, and it exists to protect workers who feel their rights have been violated. There is even a complaints process. We do not need laws like the ones the Conservatives brought in to dictate how unions should be organized.

The union movement is very happy about Bill C-4, which would repeal the previous government's unfair bills C-377 and C-525. The New Democrats opposed those bills at every stage in the process because they were useless and irresponsible legislative measures that made a mockery of the very ideas of equality and fairness in negotiations between the parties and that undermined people's basic right to free collective bargaining.

It was a partisan assault on the men and women who go to work every day to provide for their families. Those same people voted to elect representatives to the House of Commons to defend their interests.

I was very disappointed that the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent reiterated his support for his party's bills, when he was not even a member for the party at that time.

Blaming the unions for his party's defeat is a little like blaming the groundhog for a longer winter. Ultimately, the workers spoke, and the Conservatives did not have their support, essentially because the Conservatives trampled all over workers' rights.

I would like to provide some direction for my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent, since he seems to have lost his way somewhere between Quebec City and Ottawa.

The World Bank found that a high rate of unionization led to greater income equality, lower unemployment and inflation, higher productivity, and a quicker response to economic downturns. I think our economy could use a good boost right about now.

The Conservatives put all their eggs in one basket and we are seeing the consequences of that today. Unfortunately, people often forget what the union movement has done for workers: minimum wage, paid overtime, occupational safety standards, parental and maternity leave, paid vacation, and protection from discrimination and sexual harassment.

Just yesterday, we voted for a motion on pay equity moved by the NDP. I thank all the parties who supported the motion. I am still scratching my head about the fact that the Conservatives refused to support our motion, and especially that their leader refused to support our motion, considering that until recently she was the minister of status of women.

Bill C-4 is an excellent first step. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to fix past mistakes, such as the attack on sick leave introduced in the omnibus Bill C-59.

We also have to take a look at what we can improve, beyond the repairs that need to be made because of the Conservatives' bad decisions. It is high time that we modernized some of the outdated provisions of the Canada Labour Code.

It has been almost 60 years since the Canada Labour Code was overhauled. I join with my colleague from Saskatoon West in highlighting the importance of following up on the recommendations of the report released after the 2006 review of the Canada Labour Code.

That follow-up is already overdue. A good number of those recommendations and the vital updates would benefit many workers. For example, take the issues of workplace safety and preventive withdrawal for pregnant women. In Quebec, under the CSST regulations, once women are 26 weeks pregnant they are entitled to preventive withdrawal for their protection and that of their foetus. There is no such provision in the Canada Labour Code. Thus, we still have far to go. We must do more to improve working conditions for our women, our future mothers, and for all workers. Every worker deserves to be protected.

Some workers have a very hard time putting food on the table every day. Therefore, we urge the government to restore the federal minimum wage, to pass anti-scab legislation and to fight for greater pay equity.

I am pleased to have had this time and the opportunity to debate this bill, because the rights of workers across Canada have been violated by the Conservatives' actions.

Unions have many procedures, bylaws and rules. Consequently, this whole movement is already well established.

I see that my time is up, but I could talk a long time about this subject.

Human Trafficking February 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, human trafficking is a very real phenomenon in my riding.

In 2015, 33 minor female runaways were sexually exploited in Laval alone. We need prevention, but a lot of resources on the ground as well.

However, something we could do right now and right here is implement Maria Mourani's bill, which was passed in the House of Commons last year. The bill would severely punish anyone who exploits our young women.

Can the government tell us if it will quickly set a date for implementing the bill?

Canada Labour Code February 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am outraged by my colleague's remarks. As the former president of a local union, I had to manage my members' money for eight years, eight wonderful years during which I was accountable to them. We had to present financial statements at every meeting.

What my colleague is saying is wrong because unions have to provide financial reports. Every union has its own members and its own clearly defined rules.

I am pleased that we are moving forward with the bill introduced by our government colleagues. It is a step in the right direction.

Union leaders are being talked about as though they are fat cats, but I do not see myself that way.

I would invite my colleague to side with workers. We can follow the example of unions in order to improve health and safety, increase salaries and enhance workers' right to a better life.

Canada Labour Code February 3rd, 2016

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. I am pleased to participate in today's discussion on Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. Over 60% of workers in the riding of Jonquière are unionized.

My question is for my colleague. Why is there nothing in the bill about sick leave? That is unfortunate. We are currently negotiating with public servants. Are we going to include sick leave later and negotiate with public servants in good faith?

Status of Women February 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report is damning. Half of the departments audited had not conducted a gender-based comparative analysis, which is compulsory. This is 2016. This is unacceptable. We must do better.

Will the Liberal government commit to issuing a clear directive for all departments to honour their commitment and finally conduct gender-based analyses?

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his question.

This will increase women's buying power. I was walking down the street earlier, and I saw a group of women on their way to work, lunch boxes in hand. They were off to clean hotels. This will help those women support their families and play an active role in our country's economic activity.

In my speech just now, I mentioned the province of Quebec, which has been very active on the pay equity file. I strongly believe that the federal government can help these women, take the lead, and set an example for the whole world to follow.

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2016

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

Since we are under federal jurisdiction, we want to focus on the public and private sides. We hope to work with task forces and with the committee that will be struck, to delve into this issue, and to fix this situation for all Canadian women.

Right now, there are more than 380,000 public servants working in various sectors of our economy. We hope to be able to come to a decision and close this subject, so that it does not come up again next year. We want this issue to be fixed, so that we can focus on other problems across Canada.

Business of Supply February 2nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. This is, indeed, a problem, and it is something we need to talk about. We completely agree that we need task forces and that we need to consult a number of stakeholders who experience this every day. This is an issue. Unfortunately, in a number of sectors, it is up to collective agreements to fix this issue, which should not be the case. Collective agreements should be about negotiating more benefits, and so on. They should not be about pay equity.

I hope that the government will put forward and apply our recommendations.