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An Act to amend the Labour Code with respect to certain employees of farming businesses (Bill 8, October)

This Act effectively denies workers in small agriculture operations the right to unionize and bargain collectively. The legislation singles out agriculture workers in workplaces where there are less than three full-time employees, allowing only for undefined “associations” which merely have the right to “inform” employers of workplace issues.

This law comes on the heels of a decision by Quebec’s Superior Court in 2013 that found sections of the Quebec Labour Code allowing for the exclusion of agriculture workers from the right to organize to be unconstitutional. The former PQ government did not appeal the Court's decision. Shortly after the current Liberal government was elected, it circumvented the Superior Court's decision by introducing Bill 8. The Act is modeled after the Ontario Agricultural Employees’ Protection Act, which was found not to violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the controversial Supreme Court of Canada Fraser decision released April 2011.

Quebec Denial of right to join a union October 2014

Health Authorities Act, 2014 (Bill 1, October)

This Act denies 24,000 health care workers the freedom to choose the union they want to represent them.   The legislation limits the number of bargaining units in the health sector to four province-wide units and states that each of the current four unions in the health care sector - the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), the Nova Scotia Nurses Union (NSNU), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and Unifor - can only represent one the four new bargaining units.  It basically defines which units the members will belong and does not allow run off votes in which members would have an opportunity to vote for the union of their choice.  The Act has the effect of carving out 8,200 NSGEU members into the other three unions.  It does provides for an extremely restricitve 90 day mediation / arbitration process, however the results of that process appear to be predetermined by the legislation. The Act prohibits applications for certification, decertification and displacement of one union for another. Not only will employees have no say in the selection of the union to represent them, they will never be able to change that union.

NOTE: Bill 69, An Act to Amend Chapter 32 of the Acts of 2014, the Health Authorities Act, passed April 1, 2015,  repealed all the anti-democratic measures in Bill 1 and restructures health care labour relations to allow for four Council of Unions (similar to the BC bargaining associations model) whereby each of the health care unions will maintain their membership, while four new health care Councils of Unions will become the certified bargaining agent.  The four Councils of Unions will be:  nurses, health care professionals, health care support and health care administration.

 

 

Nova Scotia Restrictions on scope of bargaining October 2014

An Act to Amend the Labour Relations Act, 2014 (Bill 22, June)

This Act reverses the progressive amendments made to the Labour Relations Act in June 2012 (Bill 37) which provided for automatic card-check certification when 65 percent of workers in a workplace sign union carrds.  It amends the certification process back to the pre-2012 amendments, requiring a certification vote regardless of evidence that a clear majority of workers in a workplace signed a union card stating their desire to be represented by a union.

Newfoundland and Labrador Restrictions on certification June 2014

Essential Health and Community Services Act (Bill 37, April)

The Act provides for a broad definition of essential services encompassing some 35,000 public employees who work in a range of occupations including nurses, hospital support workers, group home workers, home care workers, ambulance dispatchers and paramedics.  It mandates that essential services agreements be negotiated prior to any strike action through a process that is heavily weighted in favour of the employer. A union may apply to the Labour Relation Board for arbitration if it feels that the level of employees designated essential is so high that it has the effect of depriving employees of a meaningful right to strike.  If arbitration is granted, the Minister of Labour has the right to choose the method.  However the independence of whatever method is chosen by the Minister is undermined as the arbitrator is forced consider “the employer's ability to pay in light of the fiscal position of the government” in making an award.

Nova Scotia Restrictions on scope of bargaining April 2014

Essential Home-support Services (2014) Act (Bill 30, March)

The legislation ended a two-day strike of some 500 home care workers and forced the workers' unions and their employers to negotiate an essential services agreement prior to the commencement of a strike or lock out.  If the union and the employer are unable to agree to an essential services agreement, the dispute will be referred to the Labour Relations Board to settle the provisions of such an agreement.

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights March 2014

Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-4, December)

Sections of this 321-page omnibus federal budget legislation (2013) gives the federal government, as the employer, the unfettered right to decide what work is considered “essential” and how many and which workers are required to accomplish this work during a strike. It allows the federal government to increase the number of essential employees at any point in the bargaining process, even during a strike.

The arbitration option is removed for all bargaining units except those where 80 per cent of employees perform work that has been designated “essential” by the employer. Groups that do not meet the 80 per cent threshold are automatically put on the conciliation-strike route. In the few cases where arbitration will be allowed, the process will no longer be independent of government. Arbitrators will be limited to consider only two factors: recruitment and retention, and the government’s fiscal circumstances relative to its budgetary policies.

Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining December 2013

An Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Trade Union Act, Respecting First Contract Arbitration (Bill 21, December)

This legislation amended the Trade Union Act to repeal the section of the Act which allowed for an unsettled contract in newly unionized workplaces to go to concilliation after 100 days and go to first contract arbitration after one year.   The amendment removes the time limits and now only allows first contract arbitration when one of the parties have been found guilty of bad faith bargaining.

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights December 2013

Public Services Salary Restraint Act (Bill 46, December)

This legislation eliminated the only dispute resoltion mechanism available to 21,000 members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) employed directly with the provincial government - binding arbitration - and imposes a four-year contract, if by January 31, 2014,  AUPE refuses to accept the employer's last offer of  0%, 0%, 1% and 1% over four years.

NOTE:   Bill 46 was repealed in October 2014,– although it had been rendered meaningless by the contract agreement in April 2014 between the Alberta government and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.

Alberta Suspension of bargaining rights December 2013

Public Sector Services Continuation Act (Bill 45, December)

This legislation places further restrictions on over 100,000 unionized public sector workers in Alberta who are already denied the right to strike.  It broadens the definition of strike to include"any slowdown or any activity that has the effect restricting or disrupting production or services."  It introduces for the first time in Canada, a vague legal concept of "strke threat" which makes it illegal to canvass the opinion of employees "to determine if they wish to strike", or freely express a view which calls for or supports stike action.  Bill 45 also imposes huge punitive fines on unions, their members and citizens who encourage or support an "illegal Stike or a "strike threat". 

NOTE: On March 31, 2015, the Alberta government repealed Bill 4.

Coincidently, only a few days before that the ILO issued a stinging rebuke to the government of Alberta over Bill 45, in response to a complaint the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) filed in February 2014 with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association against Bill 45.  On April 2, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench ruled that those legislation sections denying public sector workers the right to strike in both the Labour Relations Code and the Public Service Employee Relations Act violate the Charter.  The ruling was definitely influenced by the January 30th Supreme Court of Canada decision in SFL v. Saskatchewan. The Court has given the Alberta government a year to make changes that are in accordance with the Charter. 

Alberta Restrictions on scope of bargaining December 2013

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act (Bill C-60, June)

A section of this omnibus 2013 budget gives the federal cabinet the explicit power to give Crown corporations orders as to how they should negotiate with employees, both unionized and non-unionized, and would give the government the power to have a Treasury Board official sit in on collective bargaining sessions at Crown corporations.

Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining July 2013

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