Restrictive Labour Laws

Labour Rights Under Attack

227 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

Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)

This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, removed the right of public sector workers to collectively file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, forcing women to file complaints as individuals. It imposes a $50,000 fine on any union that encourages or assists their own members in filing a pay equity complaint.

Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining March 2009

Expenditure Restraint Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)

This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, imposed caps on salary increases for federal government employees, prohibited any additional remuneration such as allowance, bonus, differential or premium and prohibited any changes to the classification system that resulted in increased pay rates. In several cases, the legislation override previously negotiated collective agreements containing wage increases above the imposed salary caps. 

Federal Government Suspension of bargaining rights March 2009

York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2009 (Bill 145, January)

The legislation ended an 11-week strike by teaching assistants and contract professors at York University and forced the dispute to be settled through mediation/arbitration.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration January 2009

An Act to amend the Trade Union Act (Bill 6, June 2008)

This Act limits the rights of Saskatchewan’s workers. It reduces the ability of working people to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining. It also leaves workers with less protection against unfair practices from employers.

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

An Act respecting Essential Public Services (Bill 5, June 2008)

This Act provided for a definition of essential services so broad that practically any public service employee could be designated as an essential worker and therefore not eligible to exercise the right to strike. It is the most sweeping and heavy-handed essential services legislation in Canada. 

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

Labour Relations Amendment Act (Bill 26, June 2008)

This Act does three things to attack worker rights: it restricts the rights of construction workers to choose union representation; it outlaws employer-paid wage-subsidy funds negotiated between employers and building trade unions; and it strips the right to strike from ambulance workers. Ambulance workers will now be forced to use binding arbitration rather than be allowed to engage in a legal strike.

Alberta Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

An Act to resolve labour disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Local 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2 (Bill 66, April 20

This Bill ended a one-day strike by workers employed with the Toronto Transit Commission and imposed binding arbitration to settle all contract issues which were in dispute prior to the strike.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration April 2008

Railway Continuation Act, 2007 (Bill C-46, April)

The Act ended a strike by railway workers and imposed a final offer selection process to resolve matters remaining in dispute between the parties. 

Federal Government Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration April 2007

An Act Respecting the Working Conditions in the Public Sector, 2005 (Bill 142, December)

The Bill imposed wages and working conditions on Québec’s 500,000 public sector workers until March 2010.  Bill 142 imposed a 33-month wage freeze retroactive to June 30, 2003, and annual wage increases of two percent in the last four years of the legislated contract.  The imposed contract will expire in March 2010.  Bill 142 also contained a series of measures that undermines job security and increases the workload of public sector employees.   It also included the changes to working conditions that the government concluded at the last minute with several public sector unions under the threat of a legislated contract.

Quebec Suspension of bargaining rights December 2005

Teachers’ Collective Agreement Act, 2005 (Bill 12, October)

This Act resulted in five years of imposed conditions of employment, no improvement in students’ learning conditions and a freeze on teachers’ salaries.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights October 2005