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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

Canada Post November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, by passing special legislation to force postal workers back to work, the Liberals are proving that they are just like the Conservatives. A government that claims to stand up for the middle class should also stand up for middle-class working conditions.

Canada Post invested a false crisis, and the government is prepared to respond with special legislation. Canada Post is just sitting and waiting and will never change its position.

Will the government allow free negotiation and choose not to introduce this bill?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for pointing out that very important fact. It was the same for my riding. The entire Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region has experienced just one day of rotating strikes. In the past month, all the mail has been delivered and everything has gone smoothly. As I said in my speech, Canada Post itself manufactured this crisis.

The government got a letter from eBay and Amazon, and now it is siding with the corporations. It really seems to believe the mail is not being delivered. That is not true. There has been one strike day in Abitibi and one in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. The mail has been delivered. I have gotten messages on Facebook from postal workers across Canada. They told me that they are delivering the mail on time and that any delays are due solely to Canada Post. Canada Post manufactured this crisis.

It is outrageous for the government to deny people's rights and for us to be here debating this when the workers are negotiating and the mediator has been re-appointed. They want to negotiate. Now the sword of Damocles is hanging over their heads. The people running Canada Post know what is what. They know that special legislation is on the way. They are going to stop negotiating. That is what is happening now. Again, this is about safety. We cannot wait three years to fix the problem. People want to talk. As long as people are talking, there is hope. The mail is being delivered.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and his question. It is true that the committee did good work when we examined the future of Canada Post. There were a number of steps involved in that process. Unfortunately, the report was not taken into consideration, and the government overlooked many parts of it, no doubt deliberately. However, we did good work together.

I would like to come back to my colleague's main question. I am not a judge or an arbitrator, so I do not want to speak to what is constitutional or unconstitutional. I do not want to go down that road. However, as I mentioned, the right to strike is a constitutional right.

In 2011, the Conservative government imposed this type of legislation. Rulings handed down on this issue indicated that the proposals were unconstitutional and that Canada Post had violated many work rules, particularly in relation to unpaid leave. Some employees were not being paid while on sick leave following surgery. They finally got paid.

What is most unfortunate about this situation is that if they decide to sue, they will not get to court for two or three years. That is what happened in 2011, and I am concerned about that. Today, the major issue is the safety of workers, which is an important concern. They do not want a safe workplace in two or three years, as that is not something that can wait. We must implement the necessary measures and take concrete action. We must work together with the workers and Canada Post to find solutions. Who is better positioned than the workers to know what they need and the reality of their work?

We do not need the House of Commons to pass special legislation to force the workers to go back to work and stop the job action. This is being done on the pretext that people will not receive their mail, but that is not true. The mail is being delivered on time, day after day, and that is the important thing. Passing a special act will violate the workers' right to bargain freely, because the right to strike is a constitutional right.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is an odd thing to hear from my colleague, who was here in 2011 challenging the special legislation and work rules imposed by the Conservatives. We see that the Liberals say one thing and do another once they are in power.

As far as bargaining rights and power are concerned, it is true that the workers have chosen to exercise their right to strike, as I mentioned in my speech, but it should be noted that they opted for rotating strikes. The word “rotating” often gets dropped in the House. The mail is still getting delivered.

What I find the most shocking about all of this is that the workers are getting all the blame, as though they were the bad guys. The truth is that they are part of the middle class that the government has not stopped talking about in the House of Commons day after day for the past three years. They keep the economy going. There is power all around, but free bargaining is important.

They chose to do rotating strikes so that they could keep serving all those who need to receive their cheques and parcels. They will receive them on time. The delays people are talking about are made up, just like the crisis that Canada Post made up for all the reasons I laid out in my speech.

If the government were really interested in free bargaining, as I have heard several government members say, then it would allow the parties to negotiate. Postal workers have not stopped delivering the mail. In 2011, it was Canada Post that voluntarily stopped delivery. That is not happening this time around.

I hate that members here are painting postal workers, who go out every day to deliver the mail, as people acting in bad faith when the opposite is true.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I must say that today is a sad day for me, and it is not an honour to take part in the debate on Motion No. 25 moved by the government.

It is also a sad day for postal workers, who are still delivering the mail, whether it be the cheques people rely on or parcels sent by businesses directly to homes in Canada and around the world.

Much like the workers' bargaining rights are being violated, we in the opposition are being muzzled by today's government motion, which will lead to a debate on Bill C-89 tomorrow evening. Here are a few excerpts from the motion to demonstrate what I mean. First of all, only two hours are being allotted for the consideration of the second reading stage following the adoption of the motion. I have seen many bills introduced in the House of Commons since I was first elected in 2015, but this is first time I have been in such a situation, where all our rights, the rules and our freedom of expression are being violated here in the House of Commons.

I was elected in 2015 to represent my constituents and debate bills. As MPs, we are the voice of our constituents, and that means we have to present opinions here in the House. Unfortunately, once again, the government is trampling on our freedom of expression and our democracy.

Part (e) of Motion No. 25 states that not more than one hour shall be allotted for the consideration of the committee of the whole stage. The motion goes on to say that not more than one half hour shall be allotted for the consideration of the third reading stage, provided that no member shall speak for more than ten minutes at a time during this stage. Worse yet, no period for questions and comments will be permitted following each member’s speech.

What is the point? We are here to debate important issues and represent our constituents. When this bill is debated tomorrow in the House of Commons, this motion will take away our right to speak, other than to ask the government questions at third reading. Is that because the government is afraid to answer our questions? This is unacceptable.

I want to say a few words about my own experience. I was a mail carrier in 2011. I delivered mail for 15 years, on foot, carrying a bag on my shoulders. For 15 wonderful years, I walked up and down the streets of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. It was amazing, and I always loved my job. I was proud to wear the uniform. Every day, I would deliver mail and packages right to people's doors. I was proud to be a part of this organization.

However, I lived through the 2011 lockout. I lived through the imposed restrictions and negotiations. At the time, Canada Post shut down for two weeks, but this was not what the workers had wanted. We wanted to negotiate a collective agreement. The right to strike is a constitutional right. We wanted to continue to deliver the mail while we were negotiating and using pressure tactics that were, and still are, constitutional.

Even though our employer locked us out and shut down Canada Post offices, all the workers, including both mail carriers and inside workers, got together to deliver the old age pension cheques that had to go out that week in June 2011. I remember that they did this in good faith, in good spirit, and on their own time.

This shows how much postal workers care about their work. However, our rights had been violated, and we had to live with the consequences of special legislation being imposed on us by the former Conservative government in 2011.

I spoke about my personal experience as an employee who was locked out and about the fact that my bargaining rights were violated.

Now I want to come back to the work that Canada Post workers do every day and explain why the negotiations are still happening and why demands are still being made regarding workplace safety. These days, mail gets delivered in a number of ways. I know that some people here are less familiar with how the system works than I am.

The cancellation of home delivery means that in some municipalities, the mail carrier uses a truck to deliver the mail. Other mail carriers deliver the mail on foot, for example, those working in downtown Montreal.

There are also mail carriers who work in rural areas. Most of them are women, and they cover thousands of kilometres for their routes. When I was a mail carrier, one of my colleagues told me that she would start in Saguenay and cover four municipalities. Her route was so long that she would cover nearly 250 kilometres each day. These people use their own personal vehicles. There is a double standard because these workers do not have the same working conditions as urban mail carriers. The salaries are not the same either. The majority of rural mail carriers are women, and they sometimes work in small, isolated offices. They may work alone or with one other person because they live in remote areas. Their safety is important, but so are their working conditions. We need to restore restore fairness. The federal government introduced a farce of a pay equity bill, and these women have yet to derive any benefit from it. There is still a huge gap, and it is creating inequity. There is a reason why we are hearing comments about that.

Over the past few weeks, I have also received many messages from mail carriers across Canada, thanking me for being their voice and for being here. They said they felt supported. Fortunately, the NDP is there for them. They feel the government has abandoned them, in spite of its promises. We talk a lot about the middle class. These people are part of the middle class. They are all members of the middle class, and they feel completely forgotten, ignored and let down.

I want to go back to the issue of safety. When the workload is not properly assessed, some sectors may be assessed differently. I will come back to my female rural mail carriers, who deliver the mail in remote areas. That is what they experience. They often end up working for free. If their contract says they will be paid for three or four hours, but it takes them longer because of stormy, icy or windy conditions or because there is an abnormally high volume of mail, they will not be paid for the overtime they put in. They work for free every day.

Some might say that people choose to volunteer. That is true. People volunteer for many community organizations because they want to do so. When people have a job and have a mortgage and car payments to make, they expect to be paid for their service. That is why this is unfair. Those people are right to want to improve their workplace safety and to want fair treatment. I do not blame them. They have been asking for these terms to be reinstated for several years now. Just like in 2011, the government is introducing legislation that infringes on bargaining rights.

People at Canada Post are not dumb. We have been hearing on the Hill for two weeks now that special legislation would be imposed. Why would they negotiate? Yes, it is true that reappointing the mediator was the right thing for the minister to do. That is good. That is fine. Anyone would do the same thing if they were about to buy an expensive new car and they knew the dealer was willing to drop the price by $5,000. People are not dumb. Anyone would wait for that. They would not accept the offer after the third time. That is exactly what is happening in this case.

I also want to talk about the false crisis that Canada Post is creating. It did the same in 2011. I know, because I lived through it. I was right there, in the trenches.

From the beginning of the strike mandate, Canada Post chose to completely stop replacing employees who were absent or to extend hours for postal clerks processing mail and packages.

Having a surplus of mail in a given month is not unheard of. Everyone is talking about Black Friday this year, but there was an increase in mail last year and there will be one again next year. Even though there have been work stoppages during the rotating strike, I say again: there is no complete work stoppage. There is no need to panic, unlike in 2011, when Canada Post itself decided to lock out its employees.

Right now, rotating strikes are going on across Canada. They last for a day or two, but never more.

Canada Post voluntarily decided to stop processing the mail on time and suspend the rules for people on disability, parental and maternity leave, for example. Canada Post itself created this crisis. The government seems to be out of touch because it is not going out there to see what is happening on the ground.

eBay sent a lovely letter about how this is catastrophic, their mail will not be delivered on time, and mail carriers will not even check ID. That is outrageous, and that is why we now have to debate Motion No. 25 to force the workers to stop negotiating. Their rights will be infringed upon, and that is unacceptable.

The government is listening only to Canada Post. Of course business is important. Small businesses do a lot of business with Canada Post, and that is a great source of pride because it proves that our public service is viable and cost-effective even though the Conservatives would have us believe the opposite. That is what they said in 2011, and I remember them wanting to privatize Canada Post. That was on the table and we kept hearing about it more and more.

I am pleased to hear the Conservatives saying that businesses use Canada Post for their exports and deliveries and that Canada Post is helping them to grow. It is wonderful to hear that. What is even more wonderful is that Canada Post is delivering packages on time. I have pictures to prove it and I even experienced it myself when I had to order something that I could not find in Ottawa. Canada Post is delivering packages on time. I even have a photo of a mail carrier with a message that says that the package he is holding was mailed on November 20 and that he was in the process of delivering it on November 21. I do not see any delays there.

Pressure tactics are part of the constitutional right to strike. All workers are entitled to exercise that right. They know that Canadians are waiting for their packages, shipments, payments or money. That is why they have not stopped working completely. They never wanted to do that.

What I am hearing in the House is that this is a catastrophe, that mail is no longer being delivered and that the workers are asking for too much. Is Canada Post trying to have it both ways?

What we are hearing from the government is that it is introducing bills, that we debated pay equity, that the middle class is important, and that it is close to unions. We also heard a lot of that in 2011. The member for Cape Breton—Canso was here then and was later re-elected. In 2011, he criticized the special legislation introduced by the Conservative government and asked questions about it. He said, and I quote:

Does the minister see the folly in her ways in that she has absolutely kicked organized labour in the teeth? With her actions in the last week, she has sucker-punched organized labour in this country. Is that what we can expect to see over the course of the next four years?

I would like to quote another question which was asked by the member for Malpeque:

The best way to get a solution that is going to work in the future is to allow arbitration to work in a fair and equitable way. If that were in the bill and it was arbitration that was fair and equitable, it would be quite easy for us on this side of the House to support it.

I ask the minister, why is she taking the side of management in terms of this issue and why is the government not coming forward with arbitration that is fair and equitable to both sides and let them negotiate?

The Liberal government is proposing a motion, which we are debating today, that will result in legislation. Bill C-89, which will be debated tomorrow in the House of Commons, will infringe on the right to collective bargaining.

I mentioned earlier that the right to strike is a constitutional right. Collective bargaining is important. If the people at Canada Post know right off the bat that there will be a special act, how can they negotiate in good faith?

I gave several examples earlier, but that is the reality. The workers are there today to deliver the mail. They will be there tomorrow and until Christmas and even afterwards. They want a safe place, measures tailored to their circumstances when they are working after dark.

It is not normal to use a headlamp to find an address when it is -35°C out when we just want to stay warm. We get out of our cars or get off the bus and rush into a building to seek shelter and stay warm.

Sometimes postal workers spend eight to 12 hours outside. I know from experience what that is like. One December 24 evening, at 8 p.m., I was sitting on my snowbank. As people were starting to celebrate the holidays, I was still delivering mail. That is the reality of all letter carriers.

Some routes are indeed different and are evaluated differently. Across Canada there are currently some serious safety concerns. This special legislation infringes on the negotiations. We are infringing on the right to negotiate and improve postal workers' safety.

To make the debate on Bill C-89 a bit more democratic, I move, seconded by my hon. colleague from Vancouver East:

That the motion be amended:

(a) by deleting paragraphs (a), (d), (e), (i), (j), and (k);

(b) by replacing the words “two hours” in paragraph (b) with the following “five days”;

(c) by replacing the words “a Committee of the Whole” in paragraph (c) with the following “the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities”;

(d) by replacing all the words after the words “not more than” in paragraph (f) with the following “five days shall be allotted for the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill”; and

(e) by replacing the words “at the expiry of the times provided for in this Order, any proceedings before the House or the Committee of the Whole” in paragraph (g) with the following “15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the last day allotted to the consideration at second reading and on the last day allotted to the consideration at third reading, any proceedings before the House”

I hope these amendments to the motion will be supported.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 22nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, some things the minister said in her speech are not true. Cheques are being delivered on time, and everyone who is supposed to get money is getting it. These are rotating strikes, not a full-on strike. For over four weeks, the job action has been respectful. Workers want to deliver money and parcels on time. That is why they chose to do rotating strikes.

I would encourage the minister to leave the House of Commons, put on her toque and her boots and go see those workers on the shop floor. She should also go observe them on their routes so she can see that they truly want to deliver the mail. However, their safety is important.

Why is the minister on Canada Post's side? Why is she standing up for Amazon and eBay when all the mail is being delivered on time?

Canada Post Corporation November 21st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Canada Post has greatly exaggerated the amount of mail that has accumulated.

In Toronto, there are 70 semi-trailers of mail, not hundreds as Canada Post is claiming in the media. There is one truck in London, six in Hamilton, two in Halifax, and 15 in Moncton. All this mail can be delivered in a matter of days. Canada Post fabricated a false crisis and the government took the bait.

Why is the Minister of Labour not protecting workers' safety? Why did she side with management instead of protecting postal workers' rights?

Business of Supply November 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the speeches since we started the debate on this motion. I remember back in 2015 when I was campaigning, the Liberals were promising money for infrastructure and talking about making major investments. None of that money has showed up in my riding, Jonquière, so far though. That is why people are worried and why we have so many questions for the government.

Let me break it down with a straightforward analogy for people watching at home while we dig our heels in on all kinds of issues here in the House. Nearly all of us have a mortgage. I do, anyway, and in 25 years, if everything goes well, I will have paid it off and I will be able to rejig my budget around my other expenses. That is what a sound financial framework looks like, and that is what we are asking for.

Why are the Liberals not listening to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, and why are they not giving us proper financial footing or a timeline for balancing the budget so we can see where we are headed? I think that would be simpler. That is what regular people do in their everyday lives.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities November 19th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague for moving Motion No. 190.

The problems addressed in this motion are as bad as they have ever been and will keep getting worse if we do not take action now, so the committee needs to study them. This is an issue of real concern to us all, and we have got to find sustainable solutions.

The labour shortage affects the entire country, even my riding, Jonquière. That is why I would like the committee to look at the impact in places other than the GTA and Hamilton and to consider sectors other than construction. Many sectors and many parts of Canada have critical labour shortages. Still, this is a start, and I hope that the recommendations in the report will be relevant to every member's region, including my own.

We know the problem is not going to go away on its own. According to Pierre Cléroux, chief economist at the Bank of Canada, quite a lot of people think the shortage is temporary. It is not. On the contrary, the labour shortage is likely to get worse over time. We are seeing signs of that all across the country. Restaurants have no choice but to close their doors at the end of the summer because there are no workers to be found. There are customers aplenty, but restaurants hire students in the summer, and nobody else is available to do those jobs when the students go back to school in the fall.

Some farmers lose their crops because they do not have enough workers to harvest their fruits and vegetables. That is not to mention another problem that we are experiencing in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, namely a serious lack of welders and other skilled workers. Businesses have to contact their competitors and ask them to lend them welders so that they can fulfill their contractual obligations. That makes no sense. In my region, there are many jobs going unfilled, and it is a serious problem.

Ensuring that skilled workers are available to meet labour demands is a responsibility the government should take very seriously. A more sustainable and equitable solution would be to see Canadian workers, employers, unions, educational institutions, and federal and provincial governments working together strategically to meet our labour force goals.

According to a Conference Board of Canada report, the wave of retirements, combined with the declining birth rate, will create a labour shortage that will continue to grow for years. Something needs to be done. Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is already feeling the effects of the labour shortage. In 20 years, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean has gone from having a shortage of jobs to having a shortage of workers. I never thought I would see that. It is estimated that the region's population will increase by only 0.4% from 2016 to 2021, while the population of Quebec as a whole will increase by 3.8%. If this situation continues, over the long term, the revenue generated by SMEs could diminish because there are not enough workers.

The forestry industry is also an important economic driver in my region. The future of Quebec's forestry industry depends on new employment access policies for women and indigenous peoples and on better targeted immigration strategies to deal with the labour crisis in our plants. This labour shortage is already having a negative impact on economic growth in my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

In March 2018, at the Action Économique conference in Alma, the CEO of Béton préfabriqué du Lac said, “We invested $25 million in our plants outside Canada, but we invested zero dollars [in those in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean]. Why? There are no workers.”

Several initiatives are already under way to solve this problem in order to make the region more appealing and attract workers.

Let me share an example of something that happened recently, about two weeks ago, in my riding. The Saguenay-Le Fjord chamber of commerce and industry organized an event to woo about 30 immigrants who have arrived in Quebec over the past five years. The purpose of the event was to encourage those workers, whom our economy badly needs, to settle in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.

I went to the airport to welcome them personally. An entire day was set aside for them to meet with employers, bring their CVs and tour businesses. The event was an effort to attract workers to our region, and I hope it pays off, because we really need them.

I would also like to talk about other organizations in my riding, such as Place aux jeunes en région and Carrefour jeunesse-emploi Saguenay, which are doing a wonderful job of recruiting and attracting people from outside our region, keeping them in our region and facilitating their integration. I personally applaud their efforts. As an example, the goals of Place aux jeunes en région include preventing and slowing the exodus of young people to large urban centres, promoting and facilitating the professional integration of young people in the region, supporting and promoting the social engagement of young people in the region, educating young people, those close to them and local stakeholders about the impact of the exodus, and encouraging business creation in the region.

In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, four migration officers are posted to different areas. The migration officer is the resource person for matters related to youth migration, settlement and retention in the region. The migration officer's mission is to attract a growing number of young people to the area they represent.

Migration officers are front-line, well-informed resources who support young people and engage the community. Their job is to support young people remotely through the process of settling in the region, organize and run familiarization visits, be familiar with the labour needs of local businesses and with local economic development projects, and post job offers and regional news. They also work with local employers to help them find qualified graduates to hire, encourage local teens to see the potential in their home region and learn about local labour needs, and make their community aware of the consequences of the youth exodus and come up with strategies to welcome and retain young people.

In a region like mine, Saguenay—Lac Saint-Jean, retaining young people is very important, but we also have to ensure that immigrants who come to our region find the resources they need to tour businesses and to settle in our region for good.

Those are the reasons I will be voting in favour of Motion No. 190. A study of this kind would help us make the economy more dynamic and competitive and ensure that employers get the workers they need and that workers get the opportunities they deserve.

Pensions November 8th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals refuse to amend the bankruptcy act and workers continue to be left with nothing but crumbs.

Sears Canada employees spent their lives working and paying into their pensions. Sears shareholders got $509 million, and what did the workers get? Nothing. Once again, the most vulnerable are footing the bill.

When will the government change the law to put an end to pension theft?