Gerry Rogers Question Period (05.17.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, this government is breaking its five-year old election promise to bring in whistleblower protection. The working people of this Province are asking for this legislation for the protection of us all. When Manitoba developed its whistleblower legislation they used a legislative committee to work through the complexity of the bill.

Mr. Speaker: Will the minister immediately bring their review of whistleblower legislation out from behind closed doors and into public light by striking an all-party legislative committee to work on this very important file?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, as I point out yesterday, we see nothing encouraging in the legislation that is the other four jurisdictions – there are only four jurisdictions in this country, actually, that have whistleblower legislation, this and the federal government. Mr. Speaker, in this jurisdiction we have whistleblower protection in a number of pieces of legislation – the Environmental Protection Act, the Labour Standards Act, the Occupational Health And Safety Act, the Personal Health Information Act, and, Mr. Speaker, section 425 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a criminal offence to penalize an employee who was retaliated or intimidated by an employer for bringing something forward in the workplace. We have a lot of protection, Mr. Speaker, but that is not to say that we are not continuing to look and monitor the other jurisdictions so we can find something better.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, that is a bit of a confused answer there.

Yesterday, the minister said the human rights of transgendered people are covered under the grounds of sex. However, if gender identity is not explicitly in the act, it covers only discrimination and hate crimes that have already happened. The act must be amended so it will have the authority to undertake measures for prevention and education.

I ask the minister: Why would government not ensure full protection for one of the most vulnerable groups in our society?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when we did a deliberation and consultations for the preparation of the Human Rights Act, which, as I mentioned yesterday, is the best Human Rights Act in Canada, the discussion was a lengthy discussion on gender for coverage in that act. We received eleven different propositions or definitions on gender. Mr. Speaker, it was impossible to encapsulate it all into one single provision that could be dealt with in the human rights code to handle this particular issue.

Our advice was to leave it for now, Mr. Speaker. The issues that come up under gender are covered off in the sex prohibition in the act.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised still to learn that there is confusion on government’s side regarding the definition of gender identity. The United Nations in its Declaration of Human Rights and the Northwest Territories have amended their legislation to include gender identity. The federal government is following suit.

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the social sector committee, I ask the Premier: Will you task the social sector committee with developing a formal definition of gender identity to include in the Human Rights legislation so we can finally just move on from this?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, I reiterate, the discussion on inclusion of gender in the Human Rights Act was exhaustive and we had a lot of input from all over this country. The conclusion, Mr. Speaker, was definite on all sides that it was too confusing an issue to try to explain it in one single provision in the Human Rights Act. Mr. Speaker, we were advised not to include it for now, and went ahead with what we perceive to be the best Human Rights Act in the country.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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