Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should introduce amendments to the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act and the Canada Labour Code to ensure that all the provision of the Canada Labour Code relating to fair employment practices will apply to the public service of Canada.
He said: Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak to this motion, I am mindful from reading the Canada Labour Code of the progression of history in labour relations that is evident from the pages of the Statutes of Canada, a history that began when there was no Labour Code or no such legislation, but carried itself through the years until the passage of this statute in the 1966-67 session of this House and its subsequent approval and coming into force.
The purpose of that statute was to govern equitably the relationships between employers and employees in this country, particularly with respect to those areas of jurisdiction which were within the competence of this parliament. In so doing, I think it commanded the respect of both employers and employees. As a result, it is fair to say, with some exceptions, that in so far as the statute applies, this is a reasonable Labour Code. It constitutes a reasonable step along the road to the point of perfection which all of us would like to reach and toward which all of us strive.
Section 2 of the statute is important. It defines the categories which are deemed by the statute to be federal words, undertaking or business. The unfortunate thing about the definition section is that nowhere is it specifically defined that employees of the government of Canada who are subject to the Public Service Commission are covered by the very worthwhile provisions relating to fair employment practices in the statute.
Section 5 is the next important section. It deals with what is generally called prohibited employment practices. It reads:
No employer shall refuse to employ or to continue to employ, or otherwise discriminate against any person in regard to employment or any term or condition of employment because of his race, national origin, colour or religion.
The next important section deals with equal pay. This is Part II of the statute. There is a provision in section 14 to establish a fair wage officer. The section on application is important. It applies to, and I quote:
(a) employment upon or in connection with any federal work, undertaking or business;
(b) employers engaged in any federal work, undertaking or business;
(c) employees employed upon or in connection with any federal, undertaking or business; and
(d) employment of employees by any corporation established to perform any function or duty on behalf of the Government of Canada;
In effect, it says that within all those matters within the jurisdiction of the federal government, even to that type of business which is done on behalf of the government by agencies of the Crown, the Crown corporations are covered by the Provisions of the Section but the Public Service of Canada is not so covered, at least with respect to equal pay.
Section 7 of the statute establishes penalties. The statute goes on to deal with hours of work, minimum wages, annual vacation, general holidays and all other matters.
I want to deal specifically with Part II of this statute which has to do with equal pay for female employees. Nowhere does this appear to apply to the Public Service of Canada. Section 16(1) reads, and I quote:
No employer shall employ a female employee for any work at a rate of pay that is less than the rate of pay at which a male employee is employed by that employer for identical or substantially identical work.
Section 16(2) deals with the criteria for deciding what work is, in fact, equal and how one would decide what work is substantially identical. There are exceptions, however, which do not apply to the matter before us.
Section 17 of the statute provides an important protection with respect to the discharge or some other form of discrimination against any person because that person has made a complaint, given evidence, or assisted in any way with regard to the initiation or prosecution of a complaint under that section of the act which is meant to protect with respect to equal pay. There is an adequate enforcement procedure set forth in section 18.
Section 23 permits the minister to make certain orders in an appropriate case for the establishment of equality in that particular field. With respect to the question of equal pay, the statute provides an admirable procedure for the protection of female employees of the government of Canada, but the application of Part II of the statute is very limited as I have said. It is limited because of the limitation contained in the definition section. I have searched to see whether there is some portion of the Public Service Employment Act in which this protection would apply to public servants and I am sorry to say I have failed to find any. I am satisfied it is not an omission which has been perpetrated for any bad purpose, but it is nonetheless an omission which is important for those who seek employment in the public service of Canada.
I had occasion when considering the matters we were about to discuss to review the report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and the impact of women in terms of numbers, output and ability on the public service of Canada. It is interesting to note that at the time of the publication of this report-no doubt the figures have changed since then-27.3 per cent of the public service was made up of women, a very high proportion. Approximately 42 per cent of these women were single, 43 per cent were married and 15 per cent were widowed,
February 5, 1973
separated or divorced at the time of the Report. Of those women who were married, 55 per cent supported one or more children.
The government of Canada is the largest employer of women, and, indeed, the largest employer in Canada. At the time of the report there were some 475,000 persons employed by the government of Canada of whom 25 per cent were located in the national capital area, part of which I have the honour to represent. There is a statement in the report of the Commission which I believe to be extremely important. It sets forth more clearly than I could ever do the importance of women in the scheme of things for the government of this country. The following appears at page 105 of the report:
The position of women employees in the Government of Canada deserves close examination, not only because the government employs a large number of women in a great variety of occupations but because government employment practices should demonstrate its principles. Since Canada has officially subscribed to principles recognizing women's rights to equality of opportunity, the Canadian government must ensure that its employment laws, policies and practices reflect and implement these principles. The government should also make its own adherence to principle conspicuous to other employers.
I am sure there is no one in this House who would disagree with that statement. I believe there is no better way of doing as the Royal Commission suggested than by the government making its adherence to principle conspicuous to other employers by establishing within the statutes governing employment, that at least as far as women are concerned there should be no discrimination on the basis of sex or any other aspect. Some may say provision for this is already in the statute. But I have examined the Public Service Employment Act, and I find that though there is some statement with respect to the question of discrimination on the ground of sex it is not as embracing as I think all of us would like it to be.
I am referring specifically to sections 10 and 12 of that statute governing the appointment and selection standards of the public service. It is stated that appointments within the public service shall be based on selection according to merit "as determined by the Commission and shall be made by the Commission at the request of the deputy head concerned." And so on. Section 12 gives the Commission the power to set selection standards. It reads:
The Commission may, in determining pursuant to section 10 the basis of assessment and merit in relation to any position or class of positions, prescribe selection standards as to education, knowledge, experience, language, age, residence or any other matters which in the opinion of the Commission are necessary or desirable .. .
Then, with respect to selection, subsection (2) reads:
The Commission, in prescribing selection standards under subsection (1) shall not discriminate against any person by reason of sex, race, national origin, colour or religion.
These are good phrases. But my point is that they only apply to one field of legislative protection, that is, in relation to selection. There is nothing in the act with respect to men or women in relation to sex, national origin, colour or religion to give them protection in carrying on their duties in the particular positions to which they are appointed.
There is, as well, in section 10 a bald statement that questions with respect to merit should be determined by the Commission. While I am prepared to say that the Commission ought to have the authority to employ reasonably, I am not prepared to say in the same breath that the employees of that Commission and the employees of the government of Canada generally ought not to be given the reasonable protection which is provided by the Canada Labour Code, protection which has proved effective on the industrial side, protection which is accorded in most of the provinces of Canada and which should be granted to women and to others in the public service of Canada. As I say, as the largest employer in the country, the government should be expected to provide leadership.
I recognize that this is a question which has been subject to some debate. I think its importance has been crys-talized in the growing concern that has centred on the concept of delegation of authority. Section 31 of the statute deals with this matter. It reads:
Where an employee, in the opinion of the deputy head, is incompetent in performing the duties of the position he occupies, or is incapable of performing those duties-
The section goes on to outline what may happen in that event. Mr. Speaker, justice can vary with the length of the chancellor's foot, so to speak and many instances of this unfortunate variation have come to my attention. With respect to this matter and many others, there should be incorporated into the statute the protection which is afforded under the Canada Labour Code. The statutes considered and passed by this parliament, as opposed to regulations which we as Members of Parliament never see, ought to be the basis for the rights I want to see protected, confirmed and advanced. I proposed this motion because I believed that the government should always be in the van of labour-management relations. It should always be pointing the way to the industries and other undertakings in Canada so that these industries and undertakings can look to the federal government for leadership and for example. I believe that by establishing in the acts set forth in the motion the fair employment practices as suggested by the motion the government would be providing this leadership.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' MOTIONS
Subtopic: PUBLIC SERVICE