Mr. Hubert Badanai (Fort William):
Mr. Speaker, the mover of this bill is an expert manipulator of the rules and procedures of the House of Commons. Realizing that a private member cannot introduce a bill which would impose upon the treasury an expenditure, he has moved that Bill C-41, an act to amend the Canada Labour
April 30, 1971
(Standards) Code to provide for three weeks' annual vacation after three years of service for all workers, in addition to the statutory holidays to which everyone in the federal goverment's employ is entitled, be referred to the Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration which would study the bill and decide on whatever recommendation the committee would wish to make to Parliament.
I cannot help but commend the hon. member for his persistence in introducing measures year after year to give workers additional time for leisure and recreation. I am sure all hon. members are genuinely sympathetic to the objective that Bill C-41 seeks to achieve. A similar bill to this has been introduced by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) on several occasions, as he intimated in his remarks, and in each case Parliament did not see the immediate need for such a measure when more pressing needs were awaiting government legislation.
While the principle of the bill may draw some sympathy, the proposed standard in Bill C-41 is three weeks' holiday with pay after only three years' service. It is, to a great extent, unusually ahead of current practice in government and industry generally. A recent survey of conditions indicates that in industries in the federal jurisdiction only 12 per cent of the non-office employees surveyed worked in establishments where three weeks' vacation with pay was granted after less than ten years' service. The proportion working in establishments where three weeks' vacation was granted after less than ten years was about 15 per cent.
In the booklet "Labour Standards in Canada" issued by the Department of Labour, and dated December, 1965, there is listed at page 50 vacation periods and the vacation pay requirements in the various provinces. I should like to quote from that page. In the federal service the length of annual vacation is two weeks or vacation pay amounting to 4 per cent of annual earnings. In Nova Scotia it is one week or 2 per cent of annual earnings; New Brunswick, one week or 2 per cent of annual earnings; Quebec, one week's regular pay if paid by the week or longer period, otherwise 2 per cent of annual earnings; in Ontario, one week or 2 per cent of annual earnings or 4 per cent, as the case may be, in the event of there being more than three or four years' service; Manitoba, two weeks' regular pay; Saskatchewan, two weeks or three weeks after five years' service. In Alberta it is two weeks' regular pay, and in British Columbia it is two weeks or 4 per cent of annual earnings. On page 50 we also find this passage:
In Quebec, if a worker has worked less than a year, he is entitled to a half-day of vacation for each calendar month of employment; in Saskatchewan, a worker with less than a year's service with his employer may be given one day of vacation for each month.
These changes were effective July 1, 1966. Saskatchewan is the only province with legislation to provide three weeks' vacation with pay, but after five years of service. Having regard to all the circumstances surrounding the
Canada Labour (Standards) Code numerous difficulties arising in applying this bill, if passed, to the small businesses employing only a few persons, I wonder whether it would not be better to leave the question of three weeks' vacation with pay to the bargaining table and the collective agreement rather than imposing a law which would in some cases work hardship.
Annual vacations with pay have been provided for by law in industries subject to federal labour jurisdiction since 1958. The first federal law, the Annual Vacations Act, required employers within its scope to grant their employees one week's paid vacation after one year of employment, and two weeks after two years' service. This act was replaced by part III of the Canada Labour (Standards) Code. The code provides for vacation with pay of at least two weeks after every completed year of employment. Vacation pay is 4 per cent of wages for the year in which employees establish their claim to a vacation. A year of employment, under the federal law, must be continuous with one employer and may be a 12-month period commencing with the day the employee began to work for the employer or any subsequent anniversary of that date; or it may be a calendar year or another year approved by the Minister of Labour.
The Canada Labour (Standards) Code applies to industries within federal jurisdiction, and the only employees excluded are those who are managers, superintendents or persons who exercise management functions, members of the medical, dental, architectural, engineering and legal professions. The provincial laws govern employees in employment within the jurisdiction of the province, with the exception of the classes of the following employees. Farm workers are excluded in all provinces. Also excluded are persons employed in horticulture in British Columbia, in growing flowers, fruits or vegetables in Ontario, and in ranching and market gardening in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Domestic servants are exempted in all provinces but Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Professional workers are excluded in British Columbia and Ontario, employees of municipal and school corporations in Quebec, and members of family undertakings in Saskatchewan. Salesmen are excluded in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but in Quebec the exclusion is limited to those with less than three months' service and those who work for two or more employers at the same time.
Part-time workers employed four hours or less a day, or 24 hours or less a week, are not covered in New Brunswick. Those working three hours or less a day are excluded in Quebec, and those employed for eight hours or less a week are exempted from the Alberta legislation. In addition to the groups already mentioned, excepted are workers employed in lumbering and commercial fishing in Nova Scotia, persons engaged in funeral directing and embalming in Ontario, and apartment house janitors, caretakers provided with free lodgings and home-workers in Quebec. The large group of workers governed by decrees under the Collective Agreement Act are also outside the scope of the Quebec vacation legislation. Workers governed by a collective agreement in British Columbia are exempted from the act if the Minister of
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Canada Labour (Standards) Code
Labour approves the vacation provisions of the agreement.
Under the Canada Labour (Standards) Code an employee is entitled to two weeks' vacation with pay after a year's service. In New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec the vacation with pay to which a worker is entitled under the law is one week after a year of employment. In Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba it is two weeks after a year of employment. The Saskatchewan act provides for an annual paid vacation of two weeks after each of the first four years of service and for three weeks after the fifth year and each year thereafter.
The period of five years of employment with the same employer necessary for an employee to qualify for three weeks' vacation may be continuous or may be made up of accumulated years provided that no break in employment exceeds six months, 182 days. The Saskatchewan act also provides that a system of cumulative vacation may be established by regulation, under which an employee may by agreement with his employer and with the approval of the minister postpone one week of his vacation each year for a period not exceeding four years.
Our Canada Labour (Standards) Code seems to be working very well, and though there have been some deferments, particularly with reference to hours of work, these deferments have been relatively few and I have every reason to believe that these problems will be equitably solved within a reasonable period of time.
In this bill the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has seen fit to reduce the length of service from five years to three. If he had been consistent he would have left it at five years, in which case I believe it would draw greater sympathy. We of course agree that there are minimum standards and that the federal government has a responsibility to introduce legislation to see that labour receives fair treatment at all levels, and even though the standards may not affect all the people in the country the government's responsibility is to set standards that should be followed. Provincial governments, as I have indicated, have the power to set their own standards and nearly all provinces have done so with respect to vacations with pay.
Labour naturally feels that in periods of prosperity it is the time to seek gains, to catch up with what it regards as its legitimate objectives. Being human, we should not be surprised at this. We should, rather, be grateful to the hon. member if in some cases he did not persist in unrealistic demands at times when the Canadian economy cannot afford it. The Canadian working force-that is, the average Canadian worker-is well aware of the state of the economy and workers are encouraged to seek their share of the general prosperity. I do not blame them for this.
I do not deny that it is within the authority of the federal government to legislate on labour matters, which includes regulations with respect to vacations with pay. And I am all for it, especially since we live at a time
when technological advances in all fields of human endeavour leave our people with more time for leisure and recreation; at a time when we stand at the very threshold of even greater potential that will produce more with less work and, consequently, more time to spare.
I do not deny that a prolonged vacation is desirable and useful. In fact, I admit that it is increasingly useful in view of the technological advances in industry, in manufacturing and in the offices of the nation; and the time may be near when we will be able to implement measures envisaged in this bill.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BILLS
Subtopic: CANADA LABOUR (STANDARDS) CODE PROVISION FOR THREE WEEKS ANNUAL VACATION