Some hon. Members:
Subtopic: NATIONAL ANTHEM
Sub-subtopic: RECOGNITION OF "O CANADA"-MOTION UNDER S.O. 43
May 15, 1980
Mr. Dave Nickerson (Western Arctic):
I rise under the customary provisions of Standing Order 43. On March 6, 1980, the Hon. C. M. Drury, the special representative for constitutional development in the Northwest Territories, presented his report and conclusions to the Prime Minister who had appointed him in the first place.
Whereas the reaction of the Prime Minister to this substantial and well-regarded document on a subject which is of the same measure of importance in the Territories as is the referendum in Quebec has been one of complete silence, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Schellenberger):
That the northern constitutional issues raised in Mr. Drury's report be brought forward for consideration and debate by this House without further delay.
Such a motion requires the unanimous consent of the House. Is there unanimous consent?
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition):
Madam Speaker, my question is to the President of the Treasury Board. The minister is undoubtedly aware that the federal government appears to be in violation of a federal law, a law that ensures equal pay for work of equal value.
Given that this principle cannot be equitably applied until the relative value of all jobs within the public service is determined, can the minister inform the House of the present status of the master evaluation plan which has been under way in Treasury Board for some time? Further, can he assure us that the highest possible priority is being given to the rapid completion of this important work?
Hon. Donald J. Johnston (President of the Treasury Board):
Madam Speaker, 1 will look into the current status of the report and report back to the House.
Madam Speaker, I must express my surprise and alarm that the President of the Treasury Board would not have at his fingertips an answer and knowledge of the state of
consideration of a report that is so essential to the application of equity and the obedience of the law of Canada within the Public Service of Canada.
Let me direct a supplementary question to the Minister of Employment and Immigration. As the minister may recall, in the throne speech the government indicated that it would "play a leadership role relative to the status of women by implementing affirmative action measures in the public service." Can the minister tell the House today whether those measures will include a move toward compulsory contract compliance?
Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Employment and Immigration):
Madam Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is quite correct in saying that we did make a very firm commitment to pursue the goals of greater equality by using the public service of the federal government as a lead agency. I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that we are presently preparing a paper that will be submitted to cabinet, I hope by early summer or late spring, which will contain a number of the options available in the implementation of affirmative action programs.
One of those options is obviously the use of compulsory compliance. We are meeting with American officials who have that kind of program in effect. We also want to meet with people in the private sector, the employers and unions, before we make any firm recommendations. However, it is one of the options being examined. As soon as we complete those kinds of consultations, and cabinet has had a chance to review it, I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will be notified.
I note with interest that the minister promises this matter will come before cabinet in the late spring. I would be interested in knowing when, in his mind, that season occurs. The minister a few weeks ago-in fact, on May 7-indicated, in answer to a question in this House, that his department would be "initiating a number of new programs within a week or two to meet the employment needs of women in the work force."
1 am interested in knowing whether the minister intends to introduce piecemeal programs, one or two at a time, or whether instead he is looking at a comprehensive employment strategy for women. That is what he talked about when a week ago in this House he said that he would be taking measures within a week or two weeks. What we need here is, first, an indication of whether there will be piecemeal programs, or a comprehensive employment strategy for women, brought forward. Second, we need to know precisely on what dates the House of Commons and the public of Canada can expect to have a statement of the policies or the firm intentions of this government in relation to the employment of women.
Madam Speaker, I should tell the Leader of the Opposition that when you are a Liberal it is spring all the time.
That is when the sap runs.
May 15, 1980
I would say, Madam Speaker, considering the winter of discontent that the Leader of the Opposition has just gone through, he should probably join in that point of view.
In answer to his question, I would indicate-as I have on several occasions in this House-that we do intend to make announcements on job-creation programs within a matter of two to three weeks. Those job-creation programs are designed to replace or fill the vacuum that was left when many of the programs were cancelled by his government.
At the same time, when we make that announcement we are also undertaking a major review of employment strategies which would suit this country for a decade ahead, which would take a comprehensive look at the labour market needs as we see them in the future. We hope to present a paper to Parliament this year on that sort of comprehensive strategy. In the meantime, we will be introducing programs to make up for what was left in abeyance by the previous government.
We have now been told by the minister that spring is any time. We have been given an indication that he would have announcements by late spring, which means the deadline which used to be "soon" or "within two weeks" is now "late anytime".
Would the minister give the House a firm commitment-not a hope, not something he hopes will have happened-as to a date by which the Government of Canada will present to the House of Commons and to the people a clear and comprehensive employment strategy for women in this country?
I would like to tell the Leader of the Opposition that his caucus and the opposition itself could be of great assistance in this regard, because they have been debating for an overly long period the employment tax credit program which would be of major assistance in creating employment in this country. To the extent they are prepared to permit bringing that legislation to a vote and getting it on the statute books, we shall be able to go forward with our plans.
As I stated in my previous answer, we intend to make announcements on our further job-creation program within about two or three weeks. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will find it satisfactory and that it will be of great assistance to women. In the longer term, we will be providing a comprehensive strategy to cover not just women but all who have special problems in the workplace.