Historical Events

May 17, 1994

Pay rate reductions took effect for all Prince Edward Island public employees as a result of the Public Sector Pay Reduction Act passed by the Catherine Callback Liberal government. Pay rates were reduced by 3¾ percent for those whose pay rate was $28,000 or less and by 7½ percent for those whose pay rate exceeded that amount. The legislation proved to be so unpopular that it was the single most important factor that led to the government’s defeat two years later.

May 5, 1978

Nova Scotia was the last provincial government to grant collective bargaining rights to public employees with the proclamation of hen the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act. The Act was and continues to be flawed in that it denies government workers the right to strike. The only other provinces that deny government workers the right to strike are Alberta and PEI.

May 10, 1944

The International Labour Conference meeting in Philadelphia adopted the ILO Declaration of Philadelphia, which redefined the aims and purposes of the ILO. The Declaration remains a guiding consideration in all ILO work and embodies the following principle: “labour is not a commodity” and “freedom of expression and of association are essential to sustained progress”. Canada, as a member State of the ILO, endorsed the principles and rights set out in the Declaration and undertook to work towards attaining its overall objectives.

May 15, 1919

This was the beginning of the famous Winnipeg General Strike. Twenty-five thousand workers in the city of Winnipeg went on a strike called by the Trades and Labour union, the central union body representing the interests of many of Winnipeg's workers. The strike was in support of building trades and metal trades workers who were already on strike for union recognition. For six weeks the city of Winnipeg was crippled by the massive general strike. The workers were orderly and peaceful, but the reaction from the employers, city council and the federal government was aggressive. The strike officially ended June 25, four days after ‘Bloody Saturday’, the day when the Royal North-West Mounted Police attacked a gathering of strike supporters, killing two strikers, wounding 30 and arresting many more. Workers won little in the strike, and it was another 20 years before collective bargaining was recognized in Canada.

May 15, 1909

Legislation passed in the House of Commons creating the Office of the Minister of Labour to oversee the federal Department of Labour which was established pursuant to the Conciliation Act, 1900. Between 1900 and 1909 the Department was under the control of the Minister designated to administer the Conciliation Act, namely the Postmaster General. Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier appointed William Lyon Mackenzie King to the post, who prior to that served as Canada’s first Deputy Minister of Labour and who went on to be Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister.