Mr. Mac Harb
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague has long been a member of this House, and he is very familiar with its procedures. He is well aware that a bill gets introduced at first reading and that it is referred to a committee after second reading. Then, the bill comes back before the House for consideration at the report stage. Finally, there is a debate at third reading, but no amendments may be proposed.
Second, I do not know if my hon. colleague was listening when I said that the minister responsible for this bill said unequivocally yesterday—during a discussion we had about issues raised by the union representatives—that she is very willing to meet with them and to consider how to address positively the issues raised and how to resolve them. Finally, if further clarification is needed, the minister and the government will provide it.
Third, with regard to the process the government followed in introducing this bill, my hon. colleague, who is an experienced parliamentarian, is well aware that discussions took place with public servants. This bill did not just spring up out of thin air. Discussions were held.
As to the report, the parliamentary committee had the opportunity to discuss it. The union reps had the opportunity to appear before the committee and to make specific amendments in this regard.
When all is said and done, I did my duty as a member, which is to convey the wishes of my constituents. In this case, out of respect and duty, I must raise these points in the House and make known the government's response. As I indicated, I was very pleased with the minister's answer and with the clarifications that she and her team made yesterday.
There will be opportunities for input during the implementation phase, and the government intends to involve the union reps in policy development. They will therefore be able to work with the employers to find specific solutions to specific issues raised by the union reps.
I do not agree with my colleague that the government does not have good relations with its employees. That is simply not the case. I was here when the Tories were in power and I remember the kind of relations that existed between public servants and their employers. It was very sad. I remember those days when more that 60,000 public servants picketed on Parliament Hill. Relations were not that wonderful.
The member knows that all that has now changed. We have created a very positive relationship. Dialogue continues with the union reps. Our colleagues from the government side, the members of the Liberal caucus, talk with the union reps on an ongoing basis and I personally met with some union reps last week.
I am here today to convey to my colleagues, including the opposition members, the opinion of the unions who wanted some issues raised Parliament. This is what I have done today.
I also had the opportunity to speak with the minister. She told me quite categorically that she would agree to meet with them to find a solution, particularly regarding certain specific issues, and that clarifications would be provided on other issues.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Public Service Modernization Act