Mr. Theogene Ricard (St. Hyacinlhe-Bagol):
Mr. Speaker, it had not been my intention to speak today, but since my constituency is half agricultural and half industrial I believe it is my duty to offer a few remarks on the question at present under discussion.
I would have liked to wait a little longer, but I am certainly happy to be able to speak on behalf of those who have sent me here.
Every member of this house will certainly agree that annual holidays with pay for workers are now necessary. This fact has been long recognized by the workers themselves. When they joined together in labour unions they put the matter of paid holidays to the forefront of their demands. We believe that parliament must act in order to ensure at least a minimum holiday for all workers. Should parliament fail to act, arbitrary measures could possibly be taken against workers.
If employees on the one hand and employers on the other should agree to paid holidays even more favourable than those provided by this legislation or by the proposal under discussion at this time, they are quite free to do so. Without in any way interfering in collective bargaining, I believe that the present proposal is certainly such as to grant the demands and wishes of workers. That is why I shall certainly be happy as representative of the constituency which is partly industrial, to give it my support.
The cost of holidays must therefore be proportioned to the salary of the employee because, if it is too high, it necessarily follows that workers will possibly have to give up other benefits such as pension plans, health insurance, or recreational facilities for employees themselves or their families.
The general rule prevailing within the industry falls short of the proposal put forward by the member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles). I wonder, though, if we would not be acting against the best interests of employees if we were to go as far as the hon. member wishes us to go.
I therefore would like the house to give every possible consideration to the proposal now under discussion so that our working people may enjoy the privileges they are entitled to, which are their due and which they so richly deserve.
Topic: S30 HOUSE OF COMMONS