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 Arbitration Deferral Act (Bill 9, June)

Bill 9 breaks legally binding contracts covering nearly 200,000 nurses, teachers and other public-sector workers in Alberta.  Current collective agreements covering public sector workers in the province included a two year pay freeze but allowed union members to reopen pay negotiations for the last year of the agreement before June 30, 2019— with arbitration if needed. Bill 9 delays wage re-opener negotiations (that in some cases have already begun) until after October 31, 2019. However the legislation goes beyond that. Section 5(c) allows the government to impose wage cuts on public-sector workers without negotiation or arbitration, and even without debate in the Legislature.

Alberta Suspension of bargaining rights June 2019

Labour Relations Amendment Act (Protecting Ontario's Power Supply) (bill 67, December)

Bill 67 denies the right to strike to 6,000 members of Power Workers’ Union PWU) employed by the government-owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which generates half of the province’s electricity. The legisaltion was pasted after PWU members rejected OPG's final offer at the bargaining table and voted to go on strike but before PWU members had the opportunity to exercise their right to strike. The Act  prohibit and stop any strikes or lockouts between OPG and PWU for the current round of bargaining and send all matters in dispute to a mediator-arbitrator for a dispute resolution process.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration December 2018

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act (Bill C-89, November)

The Act legislates an end to rotating strikes by member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).  It provides for the dispute to be settled within 90 days by a mediator-arbitrator appointed by the federal government. Failing that, a settlement could be imposed either through a decision from the arbitrator, or by choosing from one of the final proposals put forward by Canada Post or CUPW. Bill C-89 also imposes fines of between $1,000 and $50,000 per day on anyone found in contravention of the Act, and up to $100,000 per day against Canada Post or the union if they are found guilty of violating its terms

Federal Government Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration November 2018

Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Labour Dispute Resolution Act (Bill 178, November)

This Act legislated an end to a five week strike by a province-wide bargaining unit of 12,000 Ontario college faculty who are employed in Ontario's 24 public colleges. The faculty members are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees' Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). All  matters remaining in dispute are sent to a mediator-arbitrator, who has exclusive jurisdiction to determine all matters that he or she considers necessary to conclude a new collective agreement.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration November 2017

Public Service Sustainability Act (Bill 148, August)

Bill 148 imposes a four-year wage package on Nova Scotia's 75,000 public service employee. The legislation was originally passed in December 2015 but was not proclaimed until August 2017. It imposes a wage pattern of three per cent over a four-years in collective agreements covering unions that refused to accept the same offer from government at the bargaining table or planned to challenge the government’s wage offer through arbitration or strike. The Bill will also ends the accrual of long service awards for those members who have them effective April 1st, 2015, and these awards will be paid at 2014 wage rates and will not be offered to those members hired after April 1st, 2015.

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights August 2017

The Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28, June)

This Act restricts collective bargaining by imposing a two-year wage freeze on all new public sector collective agreements covering 120,000 public employees in Manitoba. It establishes a floating four-year period for unionized employees, which begins or began, on the expiry of the existing term of a collective agreement or arbitral decision in place as of March 20, 2017. The statutory compensation framework imposed during the applicable period includes: a two-year wage freeze; a maximum increase of 0.75% to the rate of pay in year three; and a maximum increase of 1.0% to the rate of pay in year four. In addition to general salary increases, any other monetary benefits (e.g. premiums, bonuses, allowances etc.) cannot be increased at the bargaining table.

Manitoba Suspension of bargaining rights June 2017

The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act (Bill 29, June)

 The purpose of this Act is to reduce the number of bargaining units in the health sector by establishing a fixed number of seven (7) bargaining units for each of the regional health authorities.  The seven agreements would be for nurses, physicians, medical residents, physician’s assistants, professional/technical/paramedic, facility support and community support, and are specific to each Regional Health Authority.

The bargaining agent for each legislated bargaining unit will be selected through a representation vote of the employees in that new unit.  The selected bargaining agent’s existing collective agreement that covers the most employees will become the basis for negotiating a new collective agreement for the newly legislated bargaining unit. A Commissioner appointed by Government will oversee the process, which will affect all the health regions, as well as the province-wide health employers, such as CancerCare Manitoba, Diagnostic Services Manitoba Inc., and any others that may be added by Regulation. The Commissioner must determine the bargaining agent for each “health region” and for each “province-wide health employer”, by selecting from the unions that represent employees in the unit on the date this Act comes into effect. If there are multiple bargaining agents, the Commissioner must conduct a secret ballot vote and determine rules and eligibility for employees to vote

 An employer’s organization will be created for each health region and for each province-wide health employer for the sole purpose of collective bargaining.  In addition, the Minister will appoint one or more representatives to bargain on behalf of the employer organizations, and on behalf of the province-wide health employers.

Manitoba Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2017

An Act to ensure the resumption of work in the construction industry and the settlement of disputes for the renewal of the collective agreements (Bill 142, May)

The legislation outlawed a six-day old strike by 175,000 construction workers. It stipulated that the collective agreements covering all three sectors of the construction industry—residential construction; civil engineering and roads; and institutional, commercial and industrial—last for four years, ending April 30, 2021.  The legislation granted construction workers a wage increase of 1.8 percent pending the finalization of their new contracts.  It also triggered an immediate five-month mediation period to allow unions and construction companies to hammer out a new collective agreement, after which they will be required to enter into arbitration.

Quebec Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration May 2017

Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvement Act (Bill 75, February)

After, the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union rejected three tentative agreements, the government enacted Bill 75, which legislates teachers' salaries in accordance with the guidelines which the government had established for the public service under its Bill 148: a two year wage freeze, followed by a 1% increase in year three, a 1.5% increase at the start of year four and an extra 0.5% increase on the last day of the contract. The Bill also retroactively ended the accrual of long service awards for those members who have them effective July 1, 2015, and these awards will be paid at 2015 wage rates.

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights February 2017

Labour Relations Amendment Act (Bill 7, November)

Bill 7 eliminated the card check system of allowing automatic union certification when a super-majority - 65 percent - of employees sign union cards. Instead of a card check system, Bill 7 requires a 'secret ballot' vote for all certification applications, even those where 100 percent of employees signed cards. The impact of the legislation gives employers more time and opportunity to intimidate workers and threaten their job security when organizing to form a union.

Manitoba Restrictions on certification November 2016