June 23, 2011
Miller speaks in support of Bill C-6
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Labour for bring forward this legislation on Monday evening. This measure is necessary to restore an essential service to all Canadians. A recent poll found that 70 percent of Canadians are in support of this legislation. Many of the residents in my riding share the same sentiments.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my honourable colleagues to think about the last time we experienced a power failure.
Or a temporary loss of water. Or a shutdown of the elevators. Or a problem with our computer networks.
Even a very brief loss of a service or a system we depend on can cause a lot of stress. The longer that service is unavailable, the more it affects our quality of life.
When any crucial element in our infrastructure breaks down, or is put out of commission, some people will suffer more than others. The poor, the elderly, and people with disabilities, are less able to adapt. They have fewer alternatives.
When a basic service or system breaks down or gets withdrawn, everyone looks to the government to respond as quickly as possible to restore it, even if drastic action is necessary.
Our government believes that this work stoppage, if prolonged, has the potential to cause a lot of hardship.
It will cause a lot of damage to our economy, because many businesses in this country are just beginning to get back on their feet and the loss of postal services will knock them down again. It will also cause grief to ordinary people who depend on the mail.
Mr. Speaker, there are some who say that we can live without postal services for a while, because there are always alternatives.
And yes, there are some people, and some businesses, that will be able to weather this situation in relative comfort, because they do have alternatives. But those alternatives are not available Ė or affordable - for everyone, especially rural Canadians.
There is no reason why ordinary Canadians, who are not involved in the dispute between Canada Post and the CUPW, should have to suffer.
A lightning strike is unpredictable. No one can really prepare for it. But the work stoppage was not unforeseeable. Nor was it inevitable.
Our Government certainly did everything possible to prevent a strike or a lock-out. We worked with Canada Post and the CUPW for months to help them reach a settlement.
Our efforts were unavailing. And now Canadians want us to act, before the costs of this strike, to our economy and our society, become unbearable.
The Government of Canada is not helpless.
We have the means to solve this problem. And I want to emphasize that we have legal means, provided for in the Canada Labour Code.
We have the right and the responsibility to use our powers to legislate an end to the work stoppage and to appoint an arbitrator.
Itís time to act.
Thatís why our Government has introduced Bill C-6. We are talking decisive action on behalf of all Canadians.
What does the Act do? It imposes a four-year contract and new pay-rate increases. That will mean a 1.75% increase as of February 1, 2011, 1.5% as of February 2012, 2% as of February 2013, and 2% as of February 2014.
It also provides for final offer selection, a binding mechanism, on all outstanding matters.
In making the selection of a final offer, the arbitrator is to be guided by the need for terms and conditions of employment that are consistent with those in comparable postal industries.
The arbitrator will also strive to ensure the short- and long-term economic viability and competitiveness of the Canada Post Corporation, maintain the health and safety of its workers and the sustainability of its pension plan.
The terms and conditions of employment must also take into account (a) that the solvency ratio of the pension plan must not decline as direct result of the new collective agreement and (b) that the Canada Post Corporation must, without recourse to undue increases in postal rates, operate efficiently, improve productivity and meet acceptable standards of service.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been patient. But enough is enough. Canada is recovering slowly but steadily from a deep recession.
Thatís why I am asking my honourable colleagues to join me in supporting Bill C-6.
Letís help Canada Post refocus and build a postal service for the 21st century. Letís keep Canada working. And letís pass this legislation.