Ms. Joy Langan (Mission -Coquitlam):
Madam Speaker, I was in the process of quoting remarks made by Judy Rebick from the NAC in appearing before the committee on Bill C-113. I was outlining the costs she saw under this bill: "There will be an additional 200 appeal workers and estimates are that it will be more than that because of the increase that happened when the penalties were placed. There was a huge increase in appeals, from a few a week to constant every day appeals. We are now going to have even more under this new legislation because people are being thrown off UI altogether.
How much money is really being saved? Very little. We do not believe this is a deficit reduction, member. We believe it is a political attack on unemployed people, on women and an attempt to bring our UI system into harmony with the American UI system".
I would like to introduce something into my remarks and read it into the record for the benefit of those unemployment help centres across the country that are advocacy centres and for those who just might be watching and want to know what their rights are under this bill. I would like to read into the record a few instructions that are proposed in a booklet called "For a Just Cause". It is a UI handbook produced for workers by workers. It is printed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and it is from UI workers whose wages, I might add, were frozen at zero for the next two years by this bill.
March 24. 1993
Those UI workers are very concerned about what the impact of this bill is going to be on those Canadians who are facing unemployment. In particular, I want to address my remarks to the just cause for quitting a job section and being fired for cause.
The question in the booklet is: "What are just causes for quitting a job?" The response, and I again point out this is from unemployment insurance workers who are the front line workers: "Just cause is defined in the UI act as having no reasonable alternative to immediately leaving the employment. You will not be disqualified from UI benefits if you have just cause for quitting your job: you quit because of a hostile attitude toward you created by your employer or supervisor; you quit because your employer is breaking the law, for example, you were not being paid and you reported the employer to the provincial or territorial authorities; you quit because your employer is harassing you for your union activities; you quit because your boss forced you to quit or be fired, forced early retirement or buy-out package.
Just cause is not limited to these reasons. For example, just cause might exist if: you quit because you had been working away from home for a long time and it is causing family problems; you quit because you were working away from home and had to return because of an illness in the family. However you may be disentitled for not being available for work".
There is an example listed.
"Suppose, before the changes to UI, you were being sexually harassed at work. You did not tell the person harassing you to stop; you did not go to the union steward or to the employer. You just wanted to get out of there so you quit. You probably would not have shown just cause and you would have been disqualified for seven to twelve weeks because you did not do everything possible to avoid quitting. The changes to UI mean that you will not receive UI benefits at all because you did not do everything possible to avoid quitting".
In other words, as a woman who is being sexually harassed you must confront your harasser and your employer before you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
The question then becomes: What does misconduct mean? Misconduct means you have been fired from your job because you have done something improper or unacceptable for an employee to do. It can be either criminal or non-criminal.
That brings me to another matter that is under discussion or that would draw a nice analysis between this bill and the justice system in Canada. What is the difference between a UI claimant in Canada and an accused criminal in Canada? Under the criminal justice system the onus of proof is on the system. For a UI claimant the onus of proof is on the claimant.
Under the criminal justice system the person is innocent until proven guilty. Under the unemployment insurance system the claimant is guilty until proven innocent.
Under the criminal justice system criminal justice is guided by laws that must be changed by statute. It is a rigorous process. UI is guided by directives that can be changed by the commission at any time and that can be interpreted loosely or severely.
Under the criminal justice system all witnesses are treated equally before the law. Under UI, employers have more power through the separation slip and through the approach recommended by the UI directives than does the claimant.
Under the criminal justice system decisions are made first by police for information gathering, then by the Crown attorney's decision to proceed with charges and then by judges and/or juries. Under the UI system the UI agent is a police officer, lawyer and judge usually with the responsibility for making the decision all alone.
I could go on. There is a whole page full of these analogies but I think I have made my point on that.
March 24, 1993
I would like to suggest to all those people who are interested in UI and who want to know what their rights are under this act that they should contact their local Public Service Alliance of Canada office or the office of their member of Parliament to ask for the document "For a Just Cause".
I would like to say that the minister in committee told an anecdote about workers in his riding and I have a short anecdote too to close my remarks. A young man was out on the town in his home town. This is an anecdote by the way that was told to me in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He went across the line to have a few drinks on his motorcycle. He came back to town and had a bit of an accident on his motorcycle. He fell off his bike, injured his eye and had to miss some work. Let us say that man's boss had penalized him and fired him for not attending work because he had had an accident that the boss may have felt was self-inflicted. Would that young man have been eligible for unemployment insurance? The group of people who were discussing this, among them people who work in UI offices, said: "No, absolutely not".
What happened to that young man who was from New Brunswick who would not have been eligible for UI? That young man got two weeks at the Prime Minister's summer home for his troubles.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: POINT OF ORDER