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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
I call the meeting to order.
Thank you for being here today.
This is, of course, a very special day as we welcome legislation that has successfully gone through second reading in the House of Commons .
This is, of course, a hearing about Bill C-5, an act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code. Bill C-5 is also known as the bill for a national day for truth and reconciliation.
Just as a quick note regarding organization, we're going to have two separate hours of witnesses to discuss this bill with our MPs.
For the sake of our witnesses, we have representation from the Liberal party, which is the governing party; the opposition party, which is the Conservatives; the Bloc Québécois; and the NDP.
Most of us are doing this remotely. I just want to say to our witnesses that if there's a conversation that you wish to comment on or in which perhaps you want to correct something, try to get the questioner's attention by just waving your hand, rather than trying to get my attention.
By the same token, MPs, I'd like to ask you to please direct your questions by starting with the name of the person you would like to answer the question. That makes things a lot easier.
That said, we will now proceed.
We have three witnesses on the first panel. Carlon Big Snake is a small-business owner. We also have, from the Canadian Federation of Library Associations, Stacy Allison-Cassin, assistant professor, University of Toronto. As well, from Federally Regulated Employers — Transportation and Communications, we have Derrick Hynes, who is the president and CEO.
The way we do this is that you give your opening statements for up to five minutes. You don't have to use all five minutes, but you have up to five. If you go beyond five, I'm somewhat flexible, but of course for the sake of our timing, we have to keep moving.
We're going to start with Carlon Big Snake, and I hope the connection is solid enough.
Please give us your introductory remarks for five minutes.
Carlon Big Snake
View Carlon Big Snake Profile
Carlon Big Snake
2020-11-20 12:38
Thank you. First of all, I would like to say okya.
My name is Carlon Big Snake. I'm a proud Blackfoot member from the Siksika Nation in Treaty No. 7 territory.
Today I am very honoured to represent and witness a promising historical event for indigenous people and Canadians in making a positive change to Canada's modern society. Not only for ourselves but to look to [Technical difficulty—Editor] these opportunities or to allow an equitable quality of life. Unfortunately, today's society is apportioned, which in turn causes hate and racism.
The acceptance of the TRC call for action number 80 to support Bill C-5's changes will show the sincerity and commitment of the federal government. This action will show a promising future for Canada and indigenous peoples across the nation.
The proposed bill, Bill C-5, will also enhance the education system. It will be prudent to assist Canada's educational institutions for a better understanding of our forgotten history.
My wife Lisa and I are descendants and survivors of the residential school system. We were raised with negative impacts of history. However, we felt it is our responsibility to take that mentality and use our hardship for strength for our future.
We decided to advocate in a positive manner to give hope to our families and communities. We also used those negative impacts to strengthen and create a future for our future generations.
Recently, my wife and I acquired two white buffalo. They are held with honour and respect among the people. In the past, the buffalo provided food, shelter and medicine.
However, when a white buffalo is born, it is a sign of strength and hope that we will see change soon for our people, which I see now. With the proposed acceptance of call to action number 80 through Bill C-5, we as caregivers hope that not only our people but everyone will receive blessings.
It is our way of allowing Canadians to visit first nation territory and see that we, as individuals, have pride in who we are today and to create a united society.
In closing, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the matter, and I have faith that the decision will be made to accept and have September 30 as a national day of truth and reconciliation.
Together we can begin to heal the past and look forward to a united prosperous future.
Kiit’aah’mut’tsin. Again, thank you.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you. We appreciate that. Thank you very much.
We are now going to go to Stacy Allison-Cassin, assistant professor, University of Toronto.
Are you with us?
Stacy Allison-Cassin
View Stacy Allison-Cassin Profile
Stacy Allison-Cassin
2020-11-20 12:42
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Ah, there you are.
Okay, you have up to five minutes. Please proceed.
Stacy Allison-Cassin
View Stacy Allison-Cassin Profile
Stacy Allison-Cassin
2020-11-20 12:42
Good afternoon, members of the committee and fellow witnesses. I guess maybe it's good morning for some of you.
I'm Stacy Allison-Cassin, assistant professor, teaching stream, at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, and I'm chair of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations' Indigenous Matters Committee. I am appearing today on behalf of the CFLA.
I'm a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and I am speaking from Oakville, Ontario, which is the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinabe. I also acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
I want to thank the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for the opportunity to speak on Bill C-5 on the proposed national day for truth and reconciliation.
I want to start off with a brief story. Like many families right now, we are working and learning from home. My youngest daughter is in grade 3, and she currently does her schooling from the kitchen table. On September 30, as in recent past years, we wore our orange shirts. As I came in and out of the kitchen on that day, I was continually struck—being sort of able to listen in on a day of grade 3—by the lessons and discussions that were taking place on the topic of residential schools. The teacher read them Phyllis Webstad's story of her orange shirt, and the children in the class were invited to reflect on the story in different ways, really reflecting on it as children listening to a story about another child.
I found it particularly moving. Throughout the day, they watched videos and did orange shirt-themed artwork, and the teacher led the group of seven- to nine-year-olds through some very difficult conversations.
After school that day, we had further conversations within our own family about residential schools and Canada's role. My child had a one-word question that I think many parents are familiar with: Why?
Although I've not had a family member who has experienced residential school—as far as I know, at this point—I have had to talk to my children about why my grandmother hid her identity and why she did not teach my dad her language. I'm hopeful and encouraged that my children and their classmates are learning about residential schools and indigenous peoples in Canada. I know that we have more work to do, and I am really so grateful for all of those and for Phyllis for sharing their stories to bring us to this point.
As a librarian, a parent and an indigenous person, I was struck by a great number of things that day. Among them are the following. Stories are important for truth and understanding and conversations. Facts are important. Creating deliberate space—time apart from the contours of work and school and our busy days in the lives that we all lead—is really vital to ensuring learning, awareness and remembrance of residential schools and the ongoing impacts of colonization, as well as learning about the vibrancy of indigenous peoples and cultures.
September 30—what is now known as Orange Shirt Day—has in many schools, libraries and other sites become an important day of learning and remembering. Creating a national day of truth and reconciliation will create further weight and impetus for a day of remembering and learning for all Canadians.
This is important because, as we know, the first step of reconciliation is the truth part, which includes learning facts, hearing stories and understanding the ongoing impacts of colonization. That will ultimately lead to reconciliation.
As a librarian and educator, I recognize the importance of access to materials, as well as the importance of infrastructure in the delivery of such materials and learning. As we know, access to online materials is particularly important right now in the pandemic. This includes access to the Internet, to materials that are both age-appropriate and culturally appropriate, and to materials in an appropriate language.
As a parent, I have found myself seeking books and guides to help me have conversations with my children and sharing these with other parents.
Libraries exist in schools, communities, hospitals and higher education, making them key hubs for accessing information, programming and technology across the spectrum of age, location and social position. They enable learning outside the bounds of formal education.
Libraries play an important role in ensuring that people have the ability to learn about not only the residential school system, the Indian Act and treaties, but also about indigenous art, literature, language and culture and the experiences of indigenous people in Canada.
Creating a national day for truth and reconciliation would encourage and support the development of programming and the collection of materials, and it would bring greater learning and awareness to all people in Canada.
In 2017 the Canadian Federation of Library Associations' working group on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report that set out detailed actions for libraries to take to implement the calls to action. Since the release of the CFLA's TRC report, the Indigenous Matters Committee has formed a major component of the work of the CFLA. Numerous calls to action relate to education, language, and programming, and speak to the availability of reports and documentation. Furthermore, calls to action numbers 69 and 70 highlight the importance of compliance with UNDRIP regarding indigenous peoples' rights to know the truth of what happened and to access information regarding human rights violations. It is thus vitally important that infrastructure be present to support both control of and access to documentation.
To return to the story I told at the beginning of these remarks, it's my hope that with a national day of truth and reconciliation, learning and discussion will be amplified across Canada. In this, libraries are able to act as a key component to help ensure that we will not have another generation that will not know the truth and that we will acknowledge and honour the survivors and remember those who have died.
Thank you.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Ms. Allison-Cassin.
Is it “Ms.” or “Dr.”?
Stacy Allison-Cassin
View Stacy Allison-Cassin Profile
Stacy Allison-Cassin
2020-11-20 12:48
It's Dr. Allison-Cassin.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
It's Dr. Allison-Cassin. Good for you.
I want to now go to Federally Regulated Employers — Transportation and Communications, and Derrick Hynes, who is the president and CEO.
Go ahead, Mr. Hynes.
Derrick Hynes
View Derrick Hynes Profile
Derrick Hynes
2020-11-20 12:49
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Mr. Chair, I need to start with a quick shout-out to my mom, who happens to be one of your constituents. I'm sure she's watching you and me today.
Thank you for inviting me today as a witness.
In my five minutes, I have some general comments. I'm happy to take questions and discuss these important issues with you after that point.
First let me tell you a little bit about FETCO, the organization for which I work. We are an association of private sector federally regulated employers. Our membership includes major airlines, courier companies, railways, telecom firms, etc., as well as others. Our members are businesses that carry out 24-7 continuous operations almost exclusively. They run businesses that essentially never stop. They connect the domestic and global supply chains and provide critical services to Canadians on a daily basis.
Let me start by saying that FETCO and its members fully support and endorse truth and reconciliation. Our members have a tremendous commitment to diversity and inclusion within their organizations, and this fits perfectly within that broad framework. Our members have no opposition to this proposed holiday. They appreciate the significance of setting aside a day of reflection. They agree it's a positive step in the direction of reconciliation, and frankly, they'd like to be partners in this important journey.
In the broader context, what I'd like to talk to you briefly about today is basically the concept of what a paid statutory holiday means within the context of the federal private sector to provide you with, I hope, some insights around what this looks like in practical terms. What I'm not going to do, and I don't want to do, is in any way disrespect this important dialogue by somehow implying that we should put a price on reconciliation. That would be wrong. That's not my intention. However, I think it's important that we all understand what a paid holiday means.
My colleagues at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business conducted some research a couple of years ago and concluded that a paid statutory holiday across the entire country basically costs the economy, in effect, $3.6 billion. That's assuming all jurisdictions participate in the holiday.
Within the federal private sector, where my members reside, we've done some back-of-the-envelope analysis. It's pretty crude. It looks as if it's probably about a $600-million cost for a one-day paid holiday.
I spoke with some of my members about this specifically. I spoke with a member who employs about 5,000 Canadians in a 24-7 continuous operation. They, in their operation, estimate that a paid holiday costs about $1.4 million for them specifically.
It's important to note that the federal private sector is unique in Canada. As I noted earlier, these businesses don't stop during a holiday. These are not your typical nine-to-five desk jobs. These are businesses that continue to run whether there's a holiday or not. They don't shut down and take the day off.
What happens in practical terms is that those who work typically receive extra compensation, and we all know the expression about receiving overtime at time and a half, for example. What happens, building on that perspective, is that those who receive that time and a half will often take it off later on as time off, and then those who are brought in to replace them for that day are again paid overtime at time and a half, so there's a bit of a compounding effect of what a paid statutory holiday means in the context of continuous operations. Really, in essence, it becomes a cost item, for all intents and purposes.
It's also important to note that a change like this one doesn't occur in isolation. Last year, for example, the government introduced three new paid days to the Canada Labour Code. They're called “personal leave” days. Employees are entitled to them for a multitude of reasons, and the reasons for which they can be taken are quite flexible. Five are guaranteed, three of which must be paid to the employees.
Today we're talking about Bill C-5, which will potentially add one more. Minister Tassi, the Minister of Labour, is planning to soon add another—it's in her mandate letter—under the title of “family day”. This means that over about a two-year period, the government will be adding five days of paid time off in a very condensed time frame.
With all this said, if the government does proceed in this manner, we do have a few recommendations that we hope you will consider in your deliberations.
First, one option is to consider declaring a national truth and reconciliation day without necessarily making it a paid holiday within the federal private sector.
I've looked at the witness testimony you heard earlier in the week. I'm not sure that there's necessarily a huge push from advocates asking that this be a paid day off. Some of your witnesses talked about the fact that this is not meant to be a day for people to put their feet up and watch TV.
If we did it this way and it was not necessarily a paid day off, employers could be actively engaged with indigenous leaders to ensure that the day is commemorated properly and respectfully.
However, if the truth and reconciliation day does proceed as a paid holiday, our second recommendation is that it actually be made effective as a paid holiday in 2022. The 2021 budgeting in most major corporations is done. That financial planning is already complete, and it would be quite disruptive to the process to start that process all over again to accommodate this change.
Our final request, if we do add a paid day for truth and reconciliation, is that the government reconsider its commitment to adding the family day as well. Adding both in the federal sector at this time would mean that the federal jurisdiction would have the highest number of paid statutory holidays within all the Canadian jurisdictions. What ultimately will result from that is a bit of an unfair asymmetry between organizations that operate in the federal sector versus the many—the vast majority—that actually operate across the provincial sector.
That's all I have to add. I'd be happy to take your questions and talk about this. We do believe that this is a critically important issue, and we want to be supportive.
Thank you.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Mr. Hynes, and give my regards to your mom as well.
Now we go to our questions.
Just to remind our witnesses, there are several rounds.
I believe Mr. Waugh is up first.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
That's for six minutes, please.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
Thank you.
I want to say thank you to Mr. Big Snake, Mr. Hynes and Dr. Allison-Cassin for their comments. I'll start first with the doctor.
As a former school board trustee in the province of Saskatchewan, I totally agree with you on materials, the Internet and the language. I think this day needs an education component to it all over Canada. Is your organization, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations, at the point now, with new materials and such, that if this does become a day of recognition on September 30, your library association will be putting out materials that all of us could have access to?
Stacy Allison-Cassin
View Stacy Allison-Cassin Profile
Stacy Allison-Cassin
2020-11-20 12:57
Thank you for your question.
I think an important thing to know about the Canadian Federation of Library Associations is that we're a federation of associations. We represent the provincial associations as well as specialized associations, such as, for example, the Canadian law associations or health associations, and we really act as a mechanism for bringing together conversations that are then mobilized within our individual jurisdictions. Numerous library associations have been working on this issue for several years, but we don't develop curriculum specifically through the CFLA. We have a detailed report, which I mentioned, that lays out actions that can and could be taken in the context of individual libraries or individual associations.
I do know that the library association in Saskatchewan is quite active in developing all kinds of programming. For example, I know that they have a program on right now to look at specialized subject headings, which is an important part of accessing materials. Subject headings that have been used in many libraries have actually been in racist terminology or in older terminology that's problematic. There is a considerable effort going on across many library associations and professional groups to change those so that we are no longer accessing materials with inappropriate language and names for nations that are not the names the nations use themselves. That kind of work is ongoing.
I cannot speak for all of the associations down to the individual libraries, but I know that active and considerable effort is being put into these programs across Canada, so I would think so.
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