Restrictive Labour Laws

Labour Rights Under Attack

230 Restrictive labour laws

In the past three decades Canadians have seen a serious erosion of a fundamental and universal human right, their right to organize into a union and engage in full and free collective bargaining.  Federal and provincial governments have passed numerous labour laws since 1982 that have restricted, suspended or denied collective bargaining rights for Canadian workers.


Title Jurisdiction Type of Legislation Datesort ascending

Maintenance of Saskatchewan Power Corporation’s Operations Act, 1998 (Bill 65, October)

The Act ended a strike by employees at a provincial Crown Corporation, extended the expired collective agreement for three years and imposed annual wage increases of two percent.

Saskatchewan Back to work - settlement imposed October 1998

Back to School Act, 1998 (Bill 62, September)

The Act ended a strike by teachers employed with eight publicly funded school boards, including seven separate school boards, imposed contractual terms and conditions and instituted a compulsory mediation-arbitration system presided over by government-appointed arbitrators.

Ontario Back to work - settlement imposed September 1998

Public Education Collective Agreement Act, 1998 (Bill 39, July)

The Act imposed a province-wide collective agreement on teachers employed by public school boards based on terms negotiated between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the government. The B C Post-Secondary Eployers' Association, representing school boards, were excluded from the negotiations.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining July 1998

Economic Development and Workplace Democracy Act, 1998 (Bill 31, June)

The Act increased barriers to organizing drives and certification votes, facilitated decertification and enabled the government to ban private sector strikes on large-scale construction projects to prevent economic losses.

Ontario Restrictions on certification June 1998

Education Quality Improvement Act, 1997 (Bill 160, December)

The Act enabled government to regulate terms and conditions of employment for teachers and removed cost items, including preparation time and class size, from collective bargaining.

Ontario Restrictions on scope of bargaining December 1997

Postal Services Continuation Act, 1997 (Bill C-24, December)

The Act ended a strike by postal workers, extended the expired collective agreement for three years, imposed pay awards and required the mediator-arbitrator appointed by the Minister to take Canada Post Corporation’s interests into account, including its viability and financial stability.

Federal Government Back to work - settlement imposed December 1997

Public Sector Transition Stability Act, 1997 (Bill 136, June)

The Act applied to public sector workers in newly merged workplaces and compelled run-off votes between unions. It also gave the authority to a government-appointed Commissioner to impose the first collective agreement where agreement could not be reached with the new bargaining unit in the newly merged workplace.

Ontario Suspension of bargaining rights June 1997

An Act to Amend the Labour Relations Act, 1997 (Bill 26, February)

The Act ended automatic certification for unions that obtained signed cards from a majority of workers in a workplace, placed restrictions on the use of union dues for political purposes and required unions to file annual financial statements with the Labour Relations Board detailing compensation paid to officers earning more than $50,000.

Manitoba Restrictions on certification February 1997

Lennox and Addington County Board of Education and Teachers Dispute Settlement Act, 1997 (Bill 113, January)

The Act ended a strike of teachers, extended the expired collective agreement and appointed an arbitrator to conclude a new two-year collective agreement.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration January 1997

Government Essential Services Act, 1996 (Bill 17, November)

The Act gave government greater ability to designate public services essential, determine which workers fell outside a collective agreement and deprive workers of the right to strike.

Manitoba Restrictions on scope of bargaining November 1996