Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq says she will stand by provisions in the federal budget bill that could stop women from taking pay equity complaints to the courts.
Aglukkaq, who is also health minister, was questioned on the issue in Iqaluit on Thursday, after the Public Service Alliance of Canada said the proposed provision undermines the rights of women in the civil service.
The provision is in the government's budget implementation act, which is currently before Parliament. If it passes, it would require pay equity disputes to be settled at the bargaining table, effectively blocking complaints to human rights commissions.
"I'm in full support of speeding the process up, having lived through it, having worked as [an] administrator dealing with a complaint," Aglukkaq said Thursday.
"It was a cumbersome process, a very costly process, to northerners. And I think there has to be a way to address that."
Aglukkaq said the last major pay equity complaint took nearly 20 years to be resolved in the court system. The proposed legislation, she said, would greatly speed up that process.
But the union, which represents federal employees, is asking members to lobby their MPs to have the provision removed from the budget bill.
Jean-Francois DesLauriers, PSAC's executive vice-president in the North, said earlier Thursday he wanted to know where northern MPs stand on the issue — especially Aglukkaq, who was a Nunavut cabinet minister before she was elected to Parliament last fall.
"Ms. Aglukkaq was, after all, the minister responsible for the Status of Women Council in Nunavut. She was a strong advocate for women's rights," DesLauriers said.
"To see that a piece of legislation of that nature ... coming out from a government, of which she's one of the leaders, is very disconcerting."
DesLauriers estimated that at least 60 per cent of PSAC's 1,100 members in Canada's North are women.