Hon. Marcel Danis (Minister of Labour) moved
that Bill C-101, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee in the Human Resources envelope.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address hon. members on the second reading of federal labour legislation which will reduce administrative and cost burdens, increase efficiency and competitiveness and enhance labour-management co-operation.
The proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code are in a balanced package. They benefit employers, employees and government and are also timely. With the
support of this House we can move forward together to increase our investment in people and the ability of Canadian enterprises to be more competitive.
The majority of the amendments I am proposing relate to federal labour standards contained in the Canada Labour Code. These proposals were developed over a two-year period in partnership with federally regulated employer and employee representatives, the very parties affected by the changes. Some 700,000 working Canadians will benefit from these changes to federal labour standards.
The issues addressed in this proposal include streamlining modifications to standards, clarifying the relationship between minimum labour standards and collective agreements, more effective collection of unpaid wages, provision of wage and employment protection for workers injured on the job, greater flexibility in the timing of parental leave and maternity related reassignment.
I am also proposing the addition of a provision to the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. These amendments will serve the public interest by providing an additional mechanism which could assist in the settlement of collective bargaining disputes.
I will give a few examples of the ways in which the proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code will benefit employers and employees. Streamlining the procedure for modifying labour standards such as duration of work, annual leave and statutory holidays will benefit the employer.
Clarification of federal powers concerning wage and unemployment protection for workers injured on the job and the relationship between minimum labour standards and collective agreements will help save time and money and prevent overlap and duplication.
Pregnant and nursing workers will have the right to request reassignment, a change in their tasks or even a period of leave if their health is at stake. Employees injured on the job will benefit under provisions that guarantee wage protection, maintenance of social benefits and resumption of employment. New parents will be able to take parental leave at the time they see fit, during the first year in which they have an infant in their care.
February 23, 1993
All these changes clearly benefit Canadian workers and testify to the federal government's commitment to investing in the human resources of this country.
These changes will greatly enhance the harmonization of labour legislation in this country. The Canada Labour Code will be more compatible with provincial labour standards will be increased, and employees across Canada will be entitled to similar levels of wages and benefits.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, these very substantial changes are intended to streamline federal labour legislation and help Canada prepare for the challenges of economic globalization. I would now like to offer some examples that will illustrate the tremendous progress we will all be able to make as a result of this bill.
As an example let me briefly describe our amendments with regard to collective agreements and minimum labour standards. These modifications will exempt unionized work places from annual vacation, general holidays, bereavement leave or minimum wage standards where the collective agreement meets or exceeds the legislated standard.
Currently the complainant, subject to such a collective agreement, may call on both the grievance process and Labour Canada for redress. The new amendments will ensure that only the collective agreement prevails for those employees who have access to a third party grievance process. This will eliminate unnecessary duplication.
At the outset I referred to proposed changes in the industrial relations area of the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act. The changes will protect the public interest by providing an additional mechanism which could assist in the settlement of collective bargaining disputes in federal jurisdiction. These amendments will allow a vote to be directed among employees in a bargaining unit on an employer's last offer when the public interest is affected.
Housekeeping amendments to the Canada Labour Code will also be made to redress certain discrepancies between the English and French texts. This will ensure clarity and uniformity in the provisions.
In conclusion, I think it is clear from the outline I have provided hon. members that the amendments before this House will have an extensive and beneficial impact on efficiency in the work place while promoting greater co-operation between employer and employee.
These amendments will also help propel Canada into a more progressive economic climate and foster a more equitable and harmonious work place environment. I trust that with the support of both Houses and the support of my colleagues from the opposition parties we can get this piece of legislation through the House quickly.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADA LABOUR CODE