Historical Events

April 26, 2004

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador led by Premier Danny Williams introduced Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Public Services (Bill 18), legislation to end a 29-day legal strike by 16,500 public employees. The government ignored the collective bargaining that had taken place up to that point, and imposed on the employees the same offer it had made at the bargaining table prior to the commencement of the strike. The imposed ‘offer’ rolled back some of provisions which were negotiated in previous agreements.

April 9, 1987

The Supreme Court of Canada released its decision on a series of three cases involving restrictive labour laws, commonly referred to as the ‘Labour Trilogy’ cases. The decision provided a narrow and restrictive definition of freedom of association as guaranteed under section 2(d) of the Charter as protecting only the right to join a union, but not to engage in union activities. The Labour Trilogy cases centered on the right to collective bargaining and strike. These rigid limitations on union activity had largely withstood legal scrutiny for 20 years until June 7, 2007 when the Supreme Court overturned the decision by recognizing collective bargaining as a constitutional right.

April 11, 1972

A general strike of over 210,000 public sector workers began and ended 11 days later with the government passing back-to-work legislation that also banned collective bargaining in the public sector for a period of two years. On May 9, the leaders of the three union federations that formed the common front during the strike were sentenced to a year in jail as well as 13 of the striking workers who were sentenced six months for ignoring injunctions. Within days, over 300,000 workers had self-organized the largest general strike in North American history to protest the jailings. In the, end the Government decided to negotiate a truce by releasing the jailed trade unionists in return the three trade union federations agreeing to encourage their members to return to work.

April 2, 1921

In British Columbia, An Act concerning the Employment of Women before and after Childbirth received assent, making it the first maternity leave legislation in Canada. It granted women a six-week leave. New Brunswick was next to act, but not for many years later – in 1964. The last province to introduce maternity leave legislation was PEI in 1982.

April 14, 1872

This date marks the origins of Labour Day in Canada. On this day, the Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA), the first central labour body in Canada, organized the country's first significant “workers demonstration” of its 27 unions. It was in support of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour workweek. Labour Day did not become a statutory holiday until 22 years later when the federal government enacted legislation establishing the first Monday in September as a national statutory holiday.

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