C-38: Repealing the Fair Wages Act

Pat Martin is concerned about clause 441 of the budget bill.

One of the measures is so sneaky, says NDP MP Pat Martin, nobody seemed to notice the line buried deep in the 452-page Bill C-38 that simply states, “The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed,” giving no explanation. With those 10 words, Ottawa intends to wipe out a 1985 law compelling contractors bidding on federal contracts to pay “fair wages” and overtime.

“I would have missed it and I’m from that industry. It was number 68 of 70 bills that they changed,” said Martin, a former journeyman carpenter and construction worker. Martin notes that unlike most measures in the budget bill, there was no prior discussion of the measure or even a signal such a change was contemplated. “It’s a solution without a problem. The only conclusion I can come up with is that it’s a war on labour and the left. It’s what the Americans did with the right-to-work states and the end result is $8 or $9 an hour is now the average wage in places like North Carolina.”

The act is not referenced by name in the budget plan tabled by the Finance Minister in March. In an interview with As It Happens this week, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt was asked about repealing the legislation and dismissed the act as “unnecessary red tape.” Merit Canada has praised the move.

Mr. Martin addressed the change at length in the House here.