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

Savings and Restructuring Act, 1996 (Bill 26, January)

The Act gave the government broad powers to restructure municipalities and hospitals and imposed requirements on arbitrators to consider government concerns in adjudicating disputes with certain public sector workers who lacked the right to strike.

Ontario Restrictions on scope of bargaining October 1996

Public Schools Amendment Act, 1996 (Bill 72, October)

The Act excluded certain working conditions for teachers in the public school system from collective bargaining and directed arbitrators to consider the school division or district’s ability to pay in making awards.

Manitoba Restrictions on scope of bargaining October 1996

Education and Health Collective Bargaining Assistance Act, 1996 (Bill 21, April)

The Act imposed collective agreements on employees of public school boards, post secondary educational institutions and workers in the health sector in accordance with the recommendations of an Industrial Inquiry Commission or mediator appointed under the Labour Relations Code.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights April 1996

Labour Relations and Employment Statute Law Amendments Act, 1995 (Bill 7, October)

The Act denied access to collective bargaining and the right to strike to agricultural and domestic workers and specified professionals, removed a prohibition on the use of replacement workers during strikes and  removed successor rights for Crown employees.

Ontario Denial of right to join a union October 1995

An Act respecting the negotiation process for collective agreements in the public service, 1995 (Bill 37, June)

The Act increased the number of   public sector employees designated “essential” and altered the collective bargaining process to bring an end to province-wide bargaining.

Quebec Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 1995

Budget Implementation Act, 1995 (Bill C-76, June)

The Act amended the Public Sector Compensation Act, 1991 affecting federal public service employees.  It rescinded the bargaining agent’s right to negotiate job security and workforce provisions in collective agreements for a period of three years and extended the wage freeze for the fifth consecutive year.

Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 1995

Maintenance of Railway Operations Act, 1995 (Bill C-77, March)

The Act ordered an end to a strike by railway employees of CN, CP and VIA, extended the expired collective agreement and appointed a Mediation-Arbitration Commission for each bargaining unit to be “guided by consideration of the economic viability of a coast-to-coast railway system”.

Federal Government Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration March 1995

West Coast Ports Operations Act, 1995 (Bill C-74, March)

The Act ended a strike of 500 ship and dock foremen of the Port of Vancouver, extended the collective agreement and provided for the appointment of a mediator-arbitrator.

Federal Government Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration March 1995

Public Education Labour Relations Act, 1994 (Bill 52, June)

The Act imposed a single province-wide collective bargaining system for teachers employed by public school boards.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 1994

Compensation in the Public Sector Act, 1994 (Bill 52, June)

The Act imposed an immediate freeze on the wages and benefits of approximately 60,000 public sector employees; those employees making more than $25,000 a year were forced to take a permanent three percent wage rollback.  It also extended collective agreements for three years, suspending the right to bargain, strike or arbitrate over changes to the agreement for the same period

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights June 1994