This is page numbers 2569 - 2602 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was community.

Topics

Committee Motion 102-19(2): Committee Report 8-19(2) - Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on Motion 5-19(2): Point of Privilege Raised by Member for Monfwi on March 10, 2020 - Interpreter and Translator Training and Accreditation, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 2584

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

May I have the report of Committee of the Whole? Member for Hay River South.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

Page 2584

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, your committee has been considering Tabled Document 286-19(2), Main Estimates 2021-2022, and Committee Report 8-19(2), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on Motion 5-19(2), Referral of Point of Privilege Raised by Member for Monfwi on March 10, 2020, and would like to report progress with nine motions carried, that consideration of Committee Report 8-19(2) is concluded, that consideration of Tabled Document 286-19(2) is concluded, and that the House concur those estimates and that an appropriation bill based thereon be introduced without delay, and Mr. Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with. Thank you.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

Page 2584

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Do we have a seconder? Member for Nunakput. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Thank you. Item 22, third reading of bills. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

March 29th, 2021

Page 2584

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, that Bill 20, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, be read for the third time, and Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded vote. Thank you.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2584

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2584

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I do have some remarks to make on this bill. It proposes two sets of changes to the Employment Standards Act: unpaid emergency leave is created, and then there are waivers for group termination advance notice requirements. The Employment Standards Act is a significant legislation that tries to balance workers' rights versus employers' interests. I want to thank the Standing Committee on Social Development for their work. They found a better balance by clarifying the process for employers to seek waivers from group termination notice requirements. They also clarified the process that will be used. The notice of decision to reduce or eliminate group termination notice now has to be posted in a workplace and given to each employee.

I still have major concerns, though, with this bill. In terms of the timing, I suggested to the former Minister of Justice an omnibus, a COVID bill, to deal with issues such as these, and I did that back in April of 2020, but it never really happened. This bill only came forward in November of 2020, only after a federal requirement for emergency leave as part of the Safe Restart Agreement, and on March 12, the Minister said that the bill, I'll just use his words, followed correspondence from "an industry lobbyist group." This bill, in my view, took too long to be developed and was not really, perhaps, at our own initiative. The Minister admitted that there was no public consultation in creating this bill, which I and others expect when making changes to the Employment Standards Act.

The substantive problems with the bill, I want to speak to those, Mr. Speaker. The emergency leave is unpaid. I don't think this creates an incentive to encourage self-isolation. We heard in debate that some other jurisdictions actually even have more generous sick leave provisions in their Employment Standards Act, like the Yukon. I think that there should have been more effort to look at how to make emergency leave paid. That could have been done through some sort of arrangement or split among the federal government, perhaps, GNWT, employers, and even employees, but I don't think that work was done, either.

I want to speak now to the waivers from group termination notice requirements. I think the way that it has been presented in the bill is quite problematic. I couldn't even get the Minister to admit a couple of weeks ago that workers will potentially lose weeks of paid employment if this bill passes, and I certainly expect that it will. This really shifts the burden from employers to employees, and I don't think that that's fair when it comes to group terminations. There may be some situations where this may be warranted, but this bill doesn't provide enough guidance or even strike the right kind of balance between employees' and employers' interests. These changes are not the same as some other jurisdictions, how they have decided to try to handle group termination notices. In the federal legislation, there's a mediated process where people try to sit down and look at ways of avoiding group terminations. We don't have that with this legislation.

The process for waivers is still not clear. The onus should be on the employer, and I think that should be done through a simple application process. As the bill stands now, the onus is on the employment standards officer. We downloaded that responsibility onto the employment standards officer. Number one, they have to figure out whether an employer is actually providing proper notice, and if not, then they have to figure out whether the employer meets the requirements for a waiver. I believe that this will cause unnecessary delays.

For all these reasons, this bill does not provide for adequate protection of workers' rights and the public interest, the balance is tipped too far in favour of employers, and I will not be supporting it. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Great Slave.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to suggest that, if anyone would like to know how the proceedings on this bill went, they check back through the record. I do not agree with my colleague's statements, and I will be supporting this bill. Thank you.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Bill 20: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. The Minister has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour, please rise.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

Deputy Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Hay River North; the Member for Great Slave; the Member for Kam Lake; the Member for Deh Cho; the Member for Yellowknife North; the Member for Monfwi; the Member for Nahendeh; the Member for Sahtu; the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake; the Member for Hay River South; the Member for Thebacha; the Member for Nunakput; the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh; the Member for Yellowknife South; the Member for Range Lake; the Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

All those opposed, please rise.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

Deputy Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Frame Lake.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 2585

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

All those abstaining, please rise. The results of the recorded vote: 16 in favour, one opposed, zero abstentions. The motion is carried.

---Carried

Bill 20 has had third reading. Third reading of bills. Minister of Finance.