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View Ed Komarnicki Profile
CPC (SK)
View Ed Komarnicki Profile
2009-12-10 10:17 [p.7869]
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition where the petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enact legislation that would recognize unborn children as separate victims when they are injured or killed during the commission of an offence against their mothers, allowing two charges to be laid against the offender instead of just one.
The petitioners draw to the attention of this House that under the current federal law an unborn child is not recognized as a victim with respect to violent crimes. They draw attention to the House that 72%, the vast majority, according to an Environics poll of October 2007, support laws that protect unborn children from acts of violence against their mothers and also injure or kill the child in their womb. In the current federal criminal law, an unborn child is not recognized as a victim with respect to violent crimes. The petitioners wish legislation to be passed.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the following question will be answered today: Question No. 559.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, if a revised response to Question No. 481, originally tabled on December 7, 2009, and the responses to Questions Nos. 560, 561, 562, 564, 565 and 566 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Mr. Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order concerning the content of the motion to be proposed by the hon. member for Vancouver South.
Let me say at the outset that the government readily accepts that allotted day motions ought not to be interfered with by the Speaker, except on the clearest and most certain procedural grounds. We believe that such grounds for intervention exist.
Mr. Speaker, I want to draw your attention to your own ruling of March 26, 2007 at pages 1873 to 1875 of Hansard. On that occasion the issue was a supply day notice which, had it been in order and had been adopted, would have timetabled four bills.
The motion today, if adopted, would order the government to produce a long series of documents, and as quoted in the motion itself “in their original and uncensored form”.
It is our contention that this is an improper use of a supply day motion. A number of outstanding issues surround the documents listed in the motion. There are issues of statutory secrecy, military secrecy and international agreements, all matters that this House has habitually respected when requesting papers and records.
In some cases, the custodians of these records are statutorily barred from making them public. The passage of this motion would order them to violate laws which have been enacted with the consent of the House of Commons and the Senate, the two chambers that, along with the Queen, compose Parliament. It bears repeating, the House of Commons alone is not Parliament; it is one-third of Parliament. Statutes carry the authority of the three elements.
The motion proposed by the member for Vancouver South would order people to break the law under the authority and order of only the House of Commons. Because this is an allotted day motion, it is not subject to the usual process which could include negotiation of amendments that a majority of the House might accept, notwithstanding their unacceptability to the opinion of the mover of the motion itself.
The traditional regress of grievances preceding the granting of supply never included requiring public officials to break the law, yet that is what this motion would order. Will the next allotted day motion order the release of tax information, for example, or other secret contents in government files? Where would this lead? In other words, to use the vernacular, this could be the start of a very slippery slope.
Are allotted days to become opportunities to violate the rights of Canadians through substantive motions that bypass the statute law? I suggest this was never seen as the function of allotted days, and request that the Speaker recognize that this motion exceeds the long-standing conventions surrounding supply day motions.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, let us cut to the chase. The issue is the attachment of a substantive motion, and that is an order for the production of papers, to an allotted day motion under the business of supply. You know, as I and every other member in this place knows, that we cannot write legislation on an allotted day. Nor should we bypass the normal processes for the production of papers.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-12-10 11:55 [p.7884]
Mr. Speaker, the minister's proposition today seems to be that properly informing Parliament and honestly and fully answering questions about crucial issues like our mission in Afghanistan are somehow inconsistent with protecting the public interest or safeguarding national security or ensuring the most safe and secure conditions for our troops and others in the field in Afghanistan and maintaining good international relations. He says there is a fundamental inconsistency between properly informing Parliament and safeguarding those other things.
I would ask the minister, why is the government the only party that is in a position to safeguard those other things? Why is it not possible for the House of Commons and Parliament, which the Speaker made a ruling on earlier today, having all the powers to do so, to protect any sensitive information just as well as, and perhaps better than, the government can do?
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2009-12-10 15:11 [p.7913]
Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday, I wonder if the government House leader could explain his business plan for the rest of today and tomorrow, and what his expectations might be for the weekend and next week.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding Bill C-471, the pay equity task force recommendations act, on the grounds that it requires a royal recommendation.
Normally, royal recommendation interventions are made before the first hour of debate, which occurred on this bill last night. However, after a request from the Liberal Party, who had an event of some importance last night, we delayed that so that we would not unduly delay the members opposite from attending their most important event.
Let me make my intervention now. Bill C-471 proposes to do two things. First, it imposes on the government a duty to implement the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force report that sets deadlines by which this must be done. It is noted in clause 2 of the bill that this includes establishing “all statutory oversight agencies”.
The second component of Bill C-471 is to immediately repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, which was passed by Parliament nine months ago in March 2009. I have objections to both of these components and will address them in turn.
Turning to the first component, subclause 2(1) of the bill imposes an imperative duty on the government to “implement the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force set out in its final report”. I have considerable concerns with this provision. While a sponsoring member may attempt to argue that Bill C-471 is similar to the Kyoto protocol implementation act or the Kelowna accord implementation act, which you ruled in order in the last Parliament, there is significant distinction.
In your ruling on September 27, 2006, regarding Bill C-288, you stated:
In a ruling earlier this week on a similar matter, namely, C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, the Chair made a distinction between a bill asking the House to approve certain objectives and a bill asking the House to approve the measures to achieve certain objectives. So too in the case before us, the adoption of a bill calling on the government to implement the Kyoto protocol might place an obligation on the government to take measures necessary to meet the goals set out in the protocol but the Chair cannot speculate on what those measures may be.
In the case of Bill C-471, the measures are set out in detail in the 113 recommendations of the task force report, which is referenced in this bill. The recommendation is that “Parliament enact new stand alone proactive pay equity legislation”. The other 112 recommendations describe the measures that should be included in that legislation.
As a result, this bill raises grave concerns. It places an impossible duty on the Crown of implementing the recommendations, which can only be done by passage of legislation. It seeks to bind this or a subsequent Parliament to pass this new legislation, which I submit would unconstitutionally undermine the fundamental principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It would fundamentally alter the relationship between the Crown and Parliament, and that is the heart of the financial initiative.
In your February 24, 2005, ruling, you aptly quoted:
Suffice it to say that those relations are neatly summed up in the phrase, “the government proposes, and parliament disposes”.
Bill C-471 clearly turns that relationship on its head by both proposing and disposing the measures in purposes for which public moneys should be spent. This is made even more apparent by subclause 2(2) of the bill. This provision sets the deadline by which the government must implement the task force recommendations. In particular, it states:
The Government of Canada shall ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place no later than January 1, 2011.
This provision of the bill also distinguishes it from Bill C-288 and Bill C-292, considered in the last Parliament. Neither of those bills dictated the establishment of new institutions, much less as part of its expressed terms. Based on the task force report, the duty in subclause 2(2) entails the new creation of two new statutory agencies as well as a new system of adjudicators. Assuming Bill C-471 is constitutional and the government is bound by its terms, it has no choice but to establish these new bodies.
It is trite to say that such a measure would require the expenditure of new funds to a new purpose. For example, the Speaker's ruling of September 19, 2006, concluded that the creation of advisory committee requires a royal recommendation, since this clearly would require the expenditure of public funds in a manner not currently authorized. For this reason, Bill C-471 requires a royal recommendation to be in order.
The second component of Bill C-471 also clearly demonstrates that a royal recommendation is required. As mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, Bill C-471 at clause 3 repeals, in its entirety, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. This repeal would take immediate effect if this bill were to be given royal assent.
The nature of this provision is completely different from anything that was in Bill C-288 and Bill C-292 from the last Parliament.
To fully understand why it has an impact on the financial initiative of the Crown, it is first necessary to understand the purpose of the PSECA. The purpose of this act, put simply, was to remove jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Act and to create a new statutory scheme for dealing with public sector pay equity issues proactively.
By the same token, the PSECA removed jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Complaints that arise out of the PSECA process are instead dealt with by the Public Service Labour Relations Board. The grounds for those complaints are defined in the PSECA.
This is underscored in the PSECA's consequential amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which states:
The Commission does not have jurisdiction to deal with complaints made against an employer within the meaning of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act [related to the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act].
The effect then of clause 3 of Bill C-471 is to reverse all of that. This has two distinct impacts. First, it gives jurisdiction over public sector employers to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, whose jurisdiction was expressly removed in the PSECA. Second, it subjects public service employers, that is, the Crown as employer, to liability for new statutory grounds of complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Both of these impacts infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown.
In the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc state a fundamental principle of the royal recommendation at pages 833 to 834:
An appropriation accompanied by a royal recommendation, though it can be reduced, can neither be increased nor redirected without a new recommendation...A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.
Mr. Speaker, this principle is reflected in your ruling of February 11, 2008, in which you held that Bill C-474 required a royal recommendation because it proposed to substantially alter the mandate of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The same principle applies to the bill before you today.
The object of the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was to fundamentally change the structure, process and jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity issues from what existed before the passage of the act. A royal recommendation accompanied the budget implementation bill, which included the PSECA.
Accordingly, repealing the PSECA and giving the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints is essentially a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations. No royal recommendation accompanies that change in Bill C-471.
The royal recommendation that accompanied the PSECA cannot be redirected to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, and past appropriations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal cannot be used for a purpose and jurisdiction that Parliament expressly removed from the PSECA. On that ground alone, Bill C-471 infringes upon the Crown's financial initiative.
In addition, the bill infringes upon the financial initiative on the basis that it exposes the Crown to a distinct liability that would be paid by public moneys. As stated in Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 21st edition, on page 714:
Any proposal whereby the Crown would incur a liability or a contingent liability payable out of money to be voted by Parliament [requires the Queen's recommendation].
In this vein, a June 12, 1973, Speaker's ruling held that a royal recommendation was required for Bill S-5, an act to amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act.
The Speaker noted:
It may be said that the proposal in Bill S-5 does not in itself propose a direct expenditure. It does, however, propose substantial additional liabilities on public moneys.
Similarly, a May 5, 2009, ruling from the Speaker of the other place ruled Bill S-219 out of order because it would change the Crown's liability under the Canada Student Loans Act. As held in that ruling:
The passage of Bill S-219 would expand the range of conditions under which the government would have to make good its guarantee of loans under the Canada Student Loans Act. This would change the existing scheme, since payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund might increase due to the change in possible obligations. As such, the bill should have a Royal Recommendation, and would have to originate in the other place.
This is also consistent with a ruling on February 12, 1988 regarding Bill S-4, an Act to Amend the Canada Shipping Act. In that case, Mr. Speaker, you found that increases to the limits of civil liability of shipowners did not require a royal recommendation because the payment was covered by the authorization in section 30 of the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act.
My correction, Mr. Speaker, if you were not here in 1988. You have been for so long, I think of you as being here forever. That is a compliment, and please take it as such.
That act essentially provides that the Crown could be civilly liable in court for breaches of what is known in the common law tradition as tort or property law. Crown liability for breaches of its law of civil salvage is also expressly provided under section 5. Section 30 provides judgments issued by a court against the Crown are authorized to be paid.
The case of Bill C-471 is clearly distinguishable from Bill S-4 in that it creates a new and distinct statutory liability for the Crown under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Crown Liability and Proceedings Act does not authorize payments for new statutory liabilities of the Crown. In fact, section 33 states:
Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, nothing in this Act affects any rule of evidence or any presumption relating to the extent to which the Crown is bound by an Act of Parliament.
Bill C-471 would create a new and distinct statutory charge of the Crown's liability. The more adversarial quasi-judicial setting of the human rights regime is fundamentally different from the proactive and integrated approach of the PSECA.
Under the PSECA, pay equity obligations are integrated in the bargaining process subject to complaint on certain grounds of the Public Service Labour Relations Board. In contrast, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, liability is initiated by individual complaints adjudicated before an administrative tribunal and potentially results in awards for damages. The authority for awarding those damages is the Canadian Human Rights Act.
As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, through the previous complaints based process under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the government has paid out of public moneys multi-billion dollar judgments. The Crown's obligations are significantly different under the PSECA and a royal recommendation is required to change that.
Before concluding, and I know the wish is for me to conclude quickly, I would like to address a point that may arise during the study of this bill. As we know, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act has been passed by Parliament, but it has not been not been proclaimed into force. Like many other statutes, Parliament delegates to the Governor-in-Council the authority to determine the day on which the act comes into force.
This transitional period, as one of the terms under which Parliament has passed the law, allows the executive time to prepare for the effective implementation of provisions. For purposes of assessing the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-471, it does not matter whether or not the legislation has been proclaimed into force, it suffices that the law has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and that it has received royal assent.
What is and should be most critical and salient is Parliament's decision to make law. In the 21st edition of Erskine May, in formulating the test for whether a charge is new and distinct, it is stated at page 712:
The question may arise whether a proposal for expenditure or for increased expenditure is not already covered by some general authorization. The test for determining this question in the case of a substantive proposal, ie. a provision is in a bill, as introduced, is a comparison with existing law.
In this case, the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was passed by Parliament on March 12, 2009. It forms part of the Statutes of Canada, it reflects the will of Parliament and it will be implemented under the terms passed by Parliament because that is what the law directs.
As Erskine May puts it, it forms part of the existing law, this is the law against which the provisions of Bill C-471 must be compared. To look at it another way, there would be no purpose for clause 3 of Bill C-471 but to change the law. It follows that in this instance it also changes the purposes and conditions for which the House has authorized expenditures. For that reason it requires a royal recommendation.
While Bill C-471 is a short bill, it has significant consequences and there are multiple reasons for which it requires a royal recommendation to be in order. I should also add that the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, the sponsor of Bill C-471, has said that he believes Bill C-471 would result in some additional unspecified costs for the government. In other words, the leader of the official opposition, who is the sponsor of this bill, agrees that his own bill requires a royal recommendation.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, in response to my hon. colleague's intervention requiring an apology and suggesting the Minister of National Defence is sexist in any way is outrageous. We sit here day after day. You know, Mr. Speaker, adjudicating this debate every day, the comments that come from the members opposite when the Minister of National Defence gets to his feet are absolutely outrageous. Yet the member has the unmitigated gall to stand here with her feelings hurt, suggesting that the Minister of National Defence is in some way, some fashion, some manner accusing her of something that she considers to be sexist.
This is unbelievable to me to finally have an opportunity to speak first hand with the member opposite on a debate, and this is a debate because it is certainly not a legitimate point of order, when she considers the Minister of National Defence to be sexist. It is something she should apologize for, not the Minister of National Defence.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2009-12-10 17:58 [p.7933]
Order, please. The House is in committee of the whole on Bill C-64. Before we proceed with the clause by clause consideration of the supply bill, does the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl wish to ask the usual question to the President of the Treasury Board?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2009-12-10 17:59 [p.7933]
Shall Clause 2 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Clause 3 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Clause 4 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Clause 5 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Clause 6 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Clause 7 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Schedule 1 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall Schedule 2 carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall the preamble carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall the title carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall the bill carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: Shall I rise and report the bill?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On November 6, the Speaker made a statement with respect to the management of private members' business. In particular, the Speaker raised concerns about Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act (family leave), which in the Speaker's view appeared to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown.
Without commenting on the merits of the bill, I submit that Bill C-343 would add a new purpose to the Employment Insurance Act which would require new spending and therefore would require a royal recommendation.
Let me explain how the bill would require new spending.
Bill C-343 would amend the Canada Labour Code to allow employees to take unpaid leave from work for four family related reasons: first, the inability of their minor child to carry on regular activities because the child suffers a serious physical injury as a result of a criminal offence; second, the disappearance of their minor child; third, the suicide of their spouse, common-law partner or child; or fourth, the death of their spouse, common-law partner or child as a direct result of a criminal offence.
Bill C-343 would then change the Employment Insurance Act to allow all EI eligible employees to receive up to 52 weeks of EI benefits when they took the proposed new family leave under the Canada Labour Code. As a result, the EI benefit contemplated in Bill C-343 would add a new purpose that is not currently authorized in the Employment Insurance Act, which would require new government spending.
The Department of Human Resources and Skills Development estimates that Bill C-343 would cost the government between $340 million and $410 million per year, depending on the level of criminal activity in the country. Precedents demonstrate that legislation for new spending for EI benefits not currently authorized under the Employment Insurance Act require a royal recommendation.
On November 6, 2006, the Speaker ruled in the case of Bill C-269, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (improvement of the employment insurance system) that “Bill C-269...extends coverage of the employment insurance plan to the self-employed. New purposes must be accompanied by a new royal recommendation. I must rule that...Bill C-269 requires a royal recommendation”.
Bill C-343 would add a new purpose to the Employment Insurance Act, which is not currently authorized and should therefore be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
View Ed Komarnicki Profile
CPC (SK)
View Ed Komarnicki Profile
2009-12-10 18:59 [p.7941]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly enjoyed listening to the comments and the intention behind the bill. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act (family leave). It affects two pieces of legislation.
All members here certainly sympathize with those whose loved ones have been victims of violent crime. There is no question about that. It can take a long time for anyone to fully heal from that kind of tragedy.
Before discussing what may be the best way to support these victims and their families, I would like to take a moment to sum up the main components of the proposed legislation.
Bill C-343 would amend the Canada Labour Code to introduce a new type of unpaid leave, known as family leave, which would be available to federally regulated employees whose family member has experienced certain kinds of trauma. It would also amend the Employment Insurance Act to provide temporary income support for up to 52 weeks, including the two-week waiting period, to eligible individuals who take this new type of family leave. It would also use a provision of the same act to ensure that premium rates were reduced in provinces where similar income support is provided.
In part, the proposed bill seeks to address issues related to victims of violence through the employment insurance program. I should like to note that the employment insurance program already provides some compensation to victims of crime. Specifically, eligible individuals who are unable to work and who are undergoing treatment for the psychological effects of bereavement or violent crime would be eligible for up to 15 weeks of employment insurance sickness benefits. In this way, the employment insurance program already responds to the needs of Canadians in these difficult circumstances. In limited situations, eligible workers can also access up to six weeks of compassionate care benefits.
While the EI system plays a very important role in providing some income support during absences from work for Canadians, the government recognizes it may not address the needs of all victims in all situations. The proposed changes represent a significant shift to special benefits, and it is not clear that employment insurance is the best instrument to provide income support under these circumstances. In addition to these concerns, the proposed changes have of a number of additional implications that are matters of concern.
The proposal to create family leave does raise some questions with respect to fairness. I am not sure whether, in making policy in this area, the distinctions and restrictions in this bill will result in a fair outcome.
For example, I am not sure parents of a 17-year-old and parents of a 19-year-old are deserving of substantially different treatment by the EI system. In the painful cases this bill seeks to address, I am not sure either type of parent would agree that differential treatment is fair either. While this is a little outside the scope of the bill, I am concerned that crime is the only thing being addressed here by these changes and that other painful and tragic events that are no less shocking, unexpected and difficult to endure are not being considered. As I said, other events are not within the scope of the bill, and that is a matter of concern for sure.
I will move on, however. It is important to note that most provinces already offer a variety of supports to assist families of victims of crime, such as coverage of medical expenses, as well as access to counselling services.
Six provinces even provide compensation for lost wages. Provincial compensation measures also have the advantage of being provided to victims and their families without regard to employment status.
Managing the employment insurance system is very complex, as we have seen in this House with the various pieces of legislation we have introduced, including the one that just passed today, Bill C-56. Our recent changes were only made after careful consideration and in response to a critical economic situation and, therefore, a situation that was critical for thousands of Canadians and their families. Our most recent proposal for change is to bring access and fairness to self-employed Canadians, as I mentioned, to the people who have never had access to the special benefits within the EI system before.
Right now, because of the global economic situation of the past year and because previous governments used EI premiums for non-EI spending, and the member makes a fair point there, the EI account is under strain. It is estimated that adopting the bill would increase program costs significantly and could result in significant upward pressure on premium rates, something that most people do not want.
While the length of the bill itself does not imply so, these proposed changes are major financial changes to the EI system. As we know from both the existing EI system and the new access to special benefits proposed by the government under Bill C-56, adding another class of people for whom 50 weeks' worth of benefits would be available is a very expensive proposition.
I am certainly not here to say that grief has a price tag or a price ceiling, but that these sorts of changes have consequences that need to be fully considered. Not only is the EI system perhaps not the best vehicle to help in these circumstances, but it is also an expensive way to use the system.
It is also important to bear in mind that the Department of Justice provides assistance with respect to issues surrounding victims of violence. It already offers a variety of programs and services, including the victims fund and the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime. In fact, in 2007, our government made a $52 million commitment over four years to increase services for victims and funding to the provinces for elements of their programs.
Finally, our government is also working to better protect Canadians against those who commit serious and violent crimes. In February 2008, the Tackling Violent Crime Act became law. This act strengthens the Criminal Code in the following five ways: mandatory prison sentences for criminals who commit crimes with guns; tougher bail rules to make it easier to keep people accused of serious gun crimes off our streets; a higher age of protection, that is, 16 years old, to protect children from sexual predators; new stronger measures against impaired driving; and more effective sentencing and monitoring to prevent dangerous high-risk offenders from offending again. Collectively these will certainly have an impact on reducing the number of victims.
Our government is concerned about the impact of violence on all Canadians and it is taking measures to address these concerns. We always welcome ideas for improvements to programs and services to respond to the needs of victims and their families. However, further consideration is required to determine whether employment insurance is the most suitable income replacement instrument for addressing this issue.
I want to assure the House that our government acknowledges the extensive work done by groups engaged in promoting a better understanding of the needs of victims and their families. These include the Murdered or Missing Persons' Families Association, led by Pierre-Hughes Boisvenu.
However, we believe that the Canada Labour Code should not be amended in such a piecemeal manner. We strongly believe that adopting a comprehensive approach would enable us to address more efficiently the needs of employees whose family member has been a victim of violent crime, has committed suicide, or whose child has disappeared.
For all of these reasons, the government cannot support this bill and intends, at the appropriate time, to move forward on this issue and introduce its own legislation for unpaid leave for victims of crime. This area is an important one and these issues need to be addressed, but they need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
Going through the employment insurance program is not the way to go. The system is not specifically designed for that and this may not be the time to work through that. As I have said, the government will be introducing legislation and certainly will deal with the issues that have been raised.
View Ed Komarnicki Profile
CPC (SK)
View Ed Komarnicki Profile
2009-12-10 19:47 [p.7948]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide further information in response to the question raised by the hon. member for Gatineau, who obviously has an interest in seeing a positive outcome to this matter, as we all do.
The strike at the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation has been going on since September 21, when 420 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada walked off the job.
All members of the House hope that the parties can resolve this dispute soon, and all members, I am sure, would urge the parties to give it their best efforts.
The hon. member for Gatineau would like the minister to intervene further by imposing arbitration. I would remind the House that the Canada Labour Code provides the foundation of labour relations in our country, and part I in particular, outlines the steps that parties, including labour, management and the minister can take in these situations.
Just as important, I would remind the House that this code is a finely balanced piece of legislation that has been refined over the course of several decades by Parliament, with the input and advice of experts who, over the years, have guided various amendments since the original Conciliation Act was passed in the 1900s.
The code is built upon the long tradition of labour legislation and policy to promote common well-being through free collective bargaining and the constructive settlement of disputes. It supports freedom of association and free collective bargaining as the basis of effective industrial relations.
That code balances the interests of both labour and management and, as a result, Canadian labour relations have recently enjoyed a degree of relative stability.
The hon. member for Gatineau would like to have the minister and the government intervene in a way that is not appropriate in this case. The best solution is always for the parties to reach a settlement themselves, assisted as needed by conciliators and mediators.
Under the code the minister has various options. For example, in this case, when given notice that parties failed to renew or revise their collective agreement, she appointed a conciliation officer on July 3.
On August 27 the parties were released from the conciliation process. On that date, the union members voted 92% in favour of strike action.
Once the conciliation process has concluded, the code provides the minister with the authority to appoint a mediator. This was done on August 31.
On September 17 the union gave notice to the employer that it would take strike action on September 21 if a settlement could not be reached.
The settlement was not reached, and the union members of the War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization did indeed begin their legal strike on September 21.
On November 20 the parties agreed to resume bargaining talks with the mediator. However, unfortunately, no settlement was reached.
There is another avenue that remains, and that is arbitration. The parties may agree in writing to refer outstanding issues to an arbiter for binding arbitration and determination. Both sides must, however, agree to go to arbitration. The minister does not have the legal authority to impose arbitration without the consent of both sides. It is clear that in order to refer their outstanding issues to arbitration, the two parties need to come to an agreement.
The strikers have voted to pursue arbitration. The Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation has indicated it does not wish to go to arbitration, so there is no legislative authority for the minister to get involved in this strike by appointing an arbiter to settle the dispute.
We would again urge the parties to get back to the bargaining table and to use their best efforts to bring in a resolution they can all live with.
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10
>
>|
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