Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Report of the committee

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to table its

SIXTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Monday, May 8, 2017 to examine the subject matter of those elements contained in Divisions 10 and 17 of Part 4 of Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Monday, May 8, 2017, examined the said subject matter and now reports as follows:

Introduction

Your committee heard testimony on Divisions 10 and 17 of Part 4 of Bill C-44, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures, over the course of two meetings. These divisions relate to the Judges Act, the Canada Labour Code and the Wage Earner Protection Program Act.

Division 10 of Part 4 amends the Judges Act to implement the Response of the Government of Canada to the Report of the 2015 Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission. The Commission was created under the Judges Act to examine, at least every four years, the adequacy of the salaries and other amounts payable to federally appointed judges under the Act, and inquire into the adequacy of judges’ benefits generally.

Division 17 of Part 4 amends all three parts of the Canada Labour Code, and introduces a new part (Part IV — Administrative Monetary Penalties). Part I of the Canada Labour Code deals with industrial relations, Part II deals with occupational health and safety, and Part III pertains to standard hours, wages, vacations and holidays. Division 17 also amends various provisions of the Wage Earner Protection Program Act.

Observations

Division 10 — the Judges Act

While the majority of your committee supports the changes proposed in Division 10, your committee remains concerned about the high number of vacancies among federally appointed judge positions across Canada (62, as of 1 May 2017) and the fact that, as of 1 May 2017, seven of the 17 Judicial Advisory Committees do not have their memberships appointed. Your committee recalls its second recommendation contained in its interim report on court delays released in August 2016, entitled Delaying Justice is denying Justice: An Urgent need to Address Lengthy Court Delays in Canada:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada take immediate steps to ensure that an efficient and expeditious system is in place for making the necessary judicial appointments to provincial superior courts.

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Division 17 — The Canada Labour Code and the Wage Earner Protection Program Act

Your committee supports the amendments proposed in Division 17. However, it notes that the Federally Regulated Employers - Transportation and Communications (FETCO) raised concerns that the usual tripartite consultation process for changes to federal labour legislation was not fully followed in the preparation of these amendments. In future, the Government of Canada should ensure that any changes to such legislation and any regulations developed in relation to these amendments are fully reviewed in consultation with affected parties.

Respectfully submitted,

GEORGE BAKER

Deputy Chair