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Results: 1 - 15 of 64
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-23 11:22 [p.7220]
Madam Speaker, I will just ask a very quick question, or a series of quick questions.
Can the hon. House leader tell us this: Is the pandemic over? Does the hon. member have the ability to determine whether the pandemic rates are going to go up or go down? Is this really just an insurance policy to make sure that the House has the flexibility to ensure that all members of Parliament can continue representing their constituents in this place?
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-17 12:07 [p.6911]
Madam Speaker, we are the first government to update the Access to Information Act in 34 years. We gave the Information Commissioner order-making power. We have waived all fees beyond the $5 fee. We have put into law a system for proactive disclosure of so much information that could be more easily released to Canadians. We are very proud of what we have done with the Access to Information Act.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-17 12:57 [p.6920]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga, who is himself an artist.
I would like him to explain to all Canadians client why it is so important that web giants compensate artists and content creators. Can he explain how the financial framework changed in the space of a generation and why this bill is important?
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-16 17:13 [p.6839]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her speech.
I agree that the fight against climate change is very important. It is the greatest existential challenge of our generation. I hope that she will also agree that everyone needs to work together to fight climate change, and that doing so takes social cohesion.
It is very important, especially for minority groups, such as racialized people, that a bill like this one is passed. Canadians of all backgrounds will then have confidence that, if they appear before a judge or a court, they will be respected and judged on the merits of the case. They will not be concerned that a judge may have an unwarranted bias that may undermine justice.
I would like to hear my colleague's comments on this.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-01 15:17 [p.5933]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order.
During question period, I and a number of members on this side of the House heard the member for Kildonan—St. Paul make an intemperate if not incendiary remark in response to an answer the Prime Minister was making with regard to the over-incarceration of indigenous peoples and Black Canadians.
I am confident that this member will not want those remarks to stand in the Hansard. I ask that you, Mr. Speaker, offer her the opportunity to withdraw those remarks or to significantly clarify them to the House.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-06-01 15:18 [p.5933]
Mr. Speaker, I am very reluctant to repeat those comments because they were so incendiary and intemperate. If I may, I might ask you, Mr. Speaker, to review Hansard and to review the comments that I am certain our reporters heard.
To answer the member's question, it was not a question that she posed to the Prime Minister. Rather, it was a statement that she made while the Prime Minister was answering.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, we are fortunate in Canada to have a world-class public service. Whether on the front lines of our communities, from a home office, from a laboratory or in many other workplaces, federal public servants across the country continue to provide Canadians with the critical services they rely on and have not wavered since the start of the pandemic. Indeed, the federal public service is an incredibly diverse workplace.
As the employer of the federal public service, the government is responsible for creating safe working conditions for public servants no matter where they work.
An employer has an obligation to protect its employees. That is why, as the country's largest employer, we led by example to better protect the health and safety of public servants during the COVID‑19 pandemic. That included mandatory vaccination.
Last October, we implemented a policy requiring that all public employees of the core public administration, including the RCMP, be vaccinated. This requirement applies to all employees, whether they are working remotely or working on site. It also applies to contractors who require federal access to federal government work sites.
Employees who have to travel to a federal workplace need assurances that every possible measure has been taken to ensure their health and safety. A fully vaccinated workforce not only makes workplaces safer, but also enhances the safety of the communities in which these public servants live and work. Vaccination also builds better protection for Canadians who access government services in person, including the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Vaccines are the best way to bring this pandemic to an end, and public servants have stepped up, with 99% of the federal core public administration attesting to being fully vaccinated. We recognize that some public servants are not able to be vaccinated, whether because of a medical contraindication, on religious grounds or on another prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. These employees can request accommodation, but this is not new.
Employers are required to ensure that they do not discriminate on a prohibited ground and, at the federal level, the Canadian Human Rights Act has been in effect since 1977.
Since that time, the public service has implemented robust processes to review accommodation requests, as evidenced by the Directive on the Duty to Accommodate and other instruments and guides.
Accommodations related to the vaccination policy continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the facts and circumstances that may be unique to a specific individual or workplace.
When it comes to a request for accommodation, managers are not making these decisions on their own. They are supported by experienced human resource professionals who receive policy guidance from the office of the chief human resources officer and are supported by legal and privacy advisers. I can assure the House that there has been no discernible impact on the government's operations or on the services Canadians receive every day.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we made a commitment to Canadians that we will protect their health and safety. We have in place measures to protect workers and our communities. As circumstances change, we will adjust these measures. We have always followed advice from our public health experts. We have committed to reviewing this policy every—
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would be very pleased to repeat the point I made during my speech.
The federal government has required vaccination for the entire core public administration of the federal government.
We believe that the most fundamental responsibility of any government is to ensure the health and safety of its citizens. As the largest employer in the country, we have an obligation to ensure that public servants work in a safe and healthy environment, whether that is in an office or service centre, at the border, at home or elsewhere. A fully vaccinated workforce results in safer workplaces and safer communities across the country.
This policy is about public health, and the overwhelming majority of public servants have stepped up and have been vaccinated. Public servants are responding to the need to make sure that Canadians are safe and healthy during the pandemic, and the government will continue to protect its employees.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada has, of course, one of the finest public services in the world. We have professionals who have been able to help support Canadians throughout the troubling times that we have had during the pandemic. We are very proud of our public service. Of course, we want to make sure that public servants are compensated fairly and if they have a compensation system that if they do meet their targets, of course, they are being compensated appropriately. We are very lucky to have such a professional public service.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am just trying to understand my hon. colleague who knows the many issues regarding Canada's public service. Is he suggesting that we should compensate folks who do not meet their targets? I am certain that is not what he suggested.
What we are really talking about is our fabulous public service that has worked very hard and has helped Canadians through very tough times. We are certainly making sure that they are continuing to do the proper work that they do to serve Canadians and serve all of us here.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-05-12 18:28 [p.5265]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C‑13, an act for the substantive equality of Canada's official languages. This is an important bill.
As we know, along with indigenous languages, English and French are at the heart of Canada's history and identity. They are a major part of our country's social, cultural and economic vitality. Our government has always emphasized the importance of official languages in Canada, and we consider them to be not only a solemn responsibility, but also a way of recognizing the diversity and inclusion that define our country.
As a proud francophile, Quebecker and Canadian who represents the wonderful riding of Hull—Aylmer, I know how important that responsibility is. I represent what is likely the most bilingual riding in the country. Not only do my constituents speak both French and English, but they speak them well.
Part of this responsibility includes promoting the spirit of the Official Languages Act. The act is not only important to members here and federal public servants, but it is important to all Canadians. It is a reflection of who we are. Our world is changing fast, and linguistic realities are changing too. The linguistic context is in the midst of a major transformation, making an in-depth reform of this law necessary.
The reality is that bilingualism has been part of Canada's identity from the very beginning. In fact, it was in 1867, the year of Confederation, that English and French became the official languages of the Parliament of Canada.
In the 1960s, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who also wore a bow tie, I might add, today being bow tie Thursday, established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. The commission made recommendations for measures to ensure that Canadian Confederation would develop based on the principle of equality between francophones and anglophones in Canada. Those same recommendations would later form the basis of the very first version of Canada's Official Languages Act, which passed in 1969, the year I was born.
For the first time, the act made English and French the official languages in Canada, not just of Parliament, but of Canada. It stated that Canadians had the right to access federal services in the official language of their choice.
In 1988, the new version of the Official Languages Act updated and clarified the linguistic rights of individuals and the obligations of federal institutions.
As the House knows, our government has taken important measures over the past few years, first by amending the official languages regulations for services to the public, and now with the Official Languages Act.
We held vast consultations with many stakeholders and we listened to what they had to say. Their comments were essential in the context of amending the regulations in order to make them more inclusive and representative of Canadian society.
These changes, which will be implemented over the next few years, will pave the way for the creation of some 700 new bilingual offices across the country. This is a big step forward in terms of providing services to Canadians in the official language of their choice.
Whether on the front lines or behind the scenes, our federal public servants provide these services. Every day, they communicate with Canadians in the official language of their choice. The government is committed to providing federal services in both official languages and to promoting a public service that fosters the use of French and English.
We have made significant progress because today's public service is much more bilingual than it was when I was born. Today, more than 90% of executives in the public service occupy bilingual positions. In surveys, most employees report that they feel free to use the language of their choice at work, but we know that the system is not perfect and that we must do better.
Bill C-13 marks an important step in the modernization and strengthening of the Official Languages Act. I would like to present the changes proposed by the bill.
The bill will do more than just give the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat the authority to monitor the compliance of federal institutions with their language obligations. In fact, it will require the department to do so.
What is more, the Treasury Board will work with the Department of Canadian Heritage to establish policies and regulations that will help federal institutions take positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and promote linguistic duality in Canadian society. These policies and regulations will also help to hold federal institutions accountable in this regard.
It will now be easier to ensure that federal institutions meet their official language obligations. This will also help to increase the linguistic capacity of our public service.
What do these changes mean for Canadians? They likely mean two big things: a greater number of services for all Canadians in the official language of their choice and greater emphasis on the needs of Canada's official language minority communities.
For the past 50 years, the Official Languages Act has not only given Canadians basic language rights but also shaped our country's identity. We are a country that respects and celebrates diversity and inclusion.
I think Canada made a unique choice, not on purpose, but out of necessity. The French arrived in the New World, the North American continent, and, thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the indigenous peoples, they survived frigid winters and came to understand that no one could go it alone here, that everyone had to work together.
When the British arrived in North America some time later, instead of absorbing the different societies, as they had done in many other countries, they made room for the French. They allowed the French to keep their culture, their education and their system of laws, and francophones were able to keep their identity as francophones. This makes Canada a country unlike any other.
I do need to point out a certain character trait that Canada has developed over the years, decades and centuries. We tend to accommodate others rather than simply forcing them to adopt our point of view. I think this is reflected in Canada's official languages, and we must promote them, especially for Canadians who belong to minority communities across Canada.
The Official Languages Act is more than just a law. It is a reflection of our country's evolution and a part of our Canadian identity. This bill strengthens bilingualism across the country to make sure that Canadians can access services in the official language of their choice.
I call on all members to work together and support this important bill.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-05-12 18:40 [p.5266]
Mr. Speaker, I will never admit to that. We took the time that was needed to do things right. I think it is important to make the right changes when modernizing this act.
The last time the act was reviewed was in 1988 under the Mulroney government. I commend Mr. Mulroney for updating the act, but that was 34 years ago. Back in 1988, I was a parliamentary page. I remember when this bill was amended.
It takes time to do things right. I am very proud of the proposals that have been made. I hope that all members are prepared to do their part to once again improve this bill.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-05-12 18:42 [p.5266]
Mr. Speaker, let me answer in the language in which the member addressed her question. I thank the member for Nunavut for the incredible work she has done. The member for North Island—Powell River is an extraordinary member of Parliament, but I have to say that the contributions the member for Nunavut has made in terms of what we are looking at on indigenous languages will truly be historic.
In the same vein, the update to this law is taking very big steps to protect and to promote indigenous languages. I think the member will be very happy to learn of the provisions in this bill that would allow us to take some really big steps to recognize the first peoples of this continent and to make sure they are able to continue expressing themselves in their language.
I have to say how important this is. Language is a world view. You know this, Mr. Speaker, in the incredible work that you have done in learning the other official language. We all know, those of us who have the pleasure of knowing different languages, that it changes the way we think. Any steps we can take to preserve and promote indigenous languages are steps well worth taking.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-05-12 18:45 [p.5267]
Mr. Speaker, all stakeholders were listened to. Politics is about making choices, and I think that we arrived at a good compromise that reflects the vast majority of the suggestions we received.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-05-12 19:15 [p.5270]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for his speech.
However, I would like to apologize to you, Mr. Speaker, because I just assumed that you had learned French, but you are a francophone by birth from an Acadian community.
On that note, I would like to ask my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable what he thinks about the importance of passing Bill C‑13 today to help minority language communities. Like Acadians in Nova Scotia, these communities do not all necessarily have access to francophone educational institutions ranging from early childhood to post-secondary education to ensure that the French fact is strengthened in these communities.
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