Mr. Lome Greenaway (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State (Forestry and Mines)):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment both Hon. Members who have just spoken on this Bill. I think there is very little we can find to say that would not be in favour of what the Hon. Member is proposing. The substance of the Hon. Member's Bill is good. He did mention, however, that there could be some technicalities that might make it difficult. My job is to point out several of these technicalities that would make it difficult for the Government.
Bill C-238 proposes in substance to amend the Canada Labour Code in order to change the name of Boxing Day to International Peace and Goodwill Day. However, I doubt if such a gesture would make any concrete or substantive contribution to international peace and goodwill. Should Canada alone speak for the world community? Would not this laudable effort be best directed to the United Nations?
1 realize that the cause of world peace is not a trivial one. However, with all due respect to the Hon. Member for Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (Mr. Van-koughnet), I am afraid that the proposed change is unlikely to achieve the goal it espouses. Even if by passing the Bill we would be promoting world peace, I fear the whole exercise would be beyond the scope of the Canada Labour Code. The Code deals with the rights, safety and well-being of Canadian workers, an issue distinct from the precise matter at hand.
We must also remember that not all workers are subject to the Canada Labour Code. Roughly 90 per cent of Canadian workers are regulated by provincial labour laws and none of the provincial statutes recognize Boxing Day as a paid holiday.
The federal Government and all the provinces and territories have legislation of broad application dealing with paid general holidays. However, the list of holidays and details concerning employees' rights to these holidays vary from one jurisdiction to the next.
Under the Canada Labour Code, Part III, Division 4, nine general holidays in a year are to be observed as paid holidays. These are New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The Code also provides that under certain conditions, an alternative holiday may be substituted for any of the nine holidays specified. Should a holiday occur on a day on which an employee does not normally work, he or she must be granted a day off with pay in lieu of the holiday either at a time convenient to the employer and employee or by the addition of a day to the annual vacation leave.
If Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Canada Day or Remembrance Day fall on a Saturday or Sunday that is a nonworking day for an employee, the employee must be given a holiday with pay on the working day immediately before or after the general holiday. These provisions regarding alternative days off do not apply, however, to employees covered by a
December 18, 1987
collective agreement that entitles them to at least nine paid holidays a year.
The Code lays down the general principle that an employee in a federal undertaking who does not work on a holiday is entitled to regular pay for the day. If the employee is paid by the week or month, wages must not be reduced by reason of his or her not working on a holiday. If the employee is paid on any other basis, he or she must receive the equivalent of the regular wages for a normal working day.
The regular rate of wages for an employee whose hours of work vary from day to day or who is paid other than on an hourly or daily basis is the average of daily earnings exclusive of overtime for the 20 days worked immediately preceding the holiday. An employee in a federal undertaking required to work on a general holiday is entitled to regular wages for the day and, in addition, to time and one-half the regular rate for all time worked. In other words, the employee is paid two and a half times the usual rate.
Different provisions apply to those employed in continuous operations who are required to work on a holiday. A continuous operation is defined to include any industrial establishment in which, during a seven-day period, operations normally continue without cessation until the end of that period. For example, the operation of trains, planes, ships, trucks and other vehicles, telephone, radio, television, telegraph or other communication or broadcasting services, or any other operation normally carried on without regard to weekends or holidays. An employee who works on a holiday must be paid regular wages for the day and must, in addition, be paid one and a half times the regular rate for the time worked, or must be granted holiday with pay at some other time. This may involve either a day added to annual vacation or another day off where convenient to the employee and employer. Or, where a collective agreement so provides, the employee must be paid for the holiday on his or next non-working day. However, an employee not entitled to wages for at least 15 days during the 30 calendar days immediately preceding the holiday is entitled to one-twentieth of the wages earned during those 30 days.
There are some situations in which an employee is not entitled to holiday pay. An employee is not entitled to pay for a general holiday that occurs in his or her first 30 days of employment with an employer, but if required to work on a holiday he or she must be paid time and one-half the regular rate. If employed in a continuous operation, he or she may be paid at the regular rate for work done on a holiday.
At the provincial level, as I mentioned, none of the labour laws recognize Boxing Day as a paid holiday. Obviously, some collective agreements may provide such a holiday, and in most provinces, provincial or municipal laws oblige retail establishments to close on Boxing Day, although this does not entitle employees to a paid holiday. Therefore, the change proposed
Peace and Goodwill Day
by this Bill would not only be purely symbolic, it would also affect a very small proportion of Canadian workers.
Therefore, I urge Hon. Members not to support this Bill.
Subtopic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND GOODWILL DAY MEASURE TO ENACT