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 descending

Trade Union Amendment Act, 1983 (Bill 104, June)

The Act broadened the time frame for providing advance notice of union meetings and the conduct of strike votes, allowed non-union members to vote in strike and ratification votes and restricted the ability of unions to discipline members for crossing picket lines or violating the union’s constitution.  It also imposed more stringent certification requirements on unions and allowed campaigning by employers against unions during organizing drives and negotiations.

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 1983

Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 1983 (Bill 44, June)

The Act eliminated the right to strike for firefighters and hospital employees, imposed compulsory arbitration and required arbitrators to consider government policy, the employer’s ability to pay and non-union wages.  It also allowed the suspension of the collection of dues if employees participated in illegal strike action.

Alberta Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 1983

Compensation Stabilization Amendment Act, 1983 (Bill 11, July)

The Act changed the wage increase guideline under Bill 28 (see above) for approximately 220,000 public sector workers to a range for total compensation and established a Compensation Commissioner with power to decide wage increases based solely on considerations of the employer’s “ability to pay”.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights July 1983

Public Sector Restraint Act, 1983 (Bill 3, October)

The Act broadened the definition of senior management in the government service.  This excluded employees from unionization, enabled employers to dismiss employees for economic reasons and stipulated the salaries and working conditions of supervisory personnel in schools would be fixed by the government and not subject to collective bargaining.

British Columbia Denial of right to join a union October 1983

Employment Standards Amendment Act, 1983 (Bill 26, October)

The Act allowed employers and unions to agree to contract language that provided workers with less than minimum employment standards and provided that no collective agreement could alter the powers and obligations of the Commission of Public Service.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining October 1983

Public Sector Prices and Compensation Review Act, 1983 (Bill 111, December)

The Act continued the wage controls of Bill 179 (see above) on approximately 500,000 public sector workers for another year,  required arbitrators to consider the employer’s “ability to pay” in the arbitration process and made all collective agreements subject to review by a legislated Restraint Board.

Ontario Suspension of bargaining rights December 1983

An Act to Repeal the Construction Industry Labour Relations Act, 1983 (Bill 24, December)

The Act allowed employers to avoid using unionized workers in the construction sector.

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining December 1983

Pulp and Paper Collective Bargaining Assistance Act, 1984 (April)

This legislation ended a strike by employees in the pulp and paper industry, extended their expired collective agreement and provided for the appointment of a special mediator to resolve the dispute

British Columbia Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration April 1984

Dairy Workers (Maintenance of Operations) Act, 1984 (April)

The Act ended a strike by dairy workers and imposed binding arbitration on the parties.

Saskatchewan Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration April 1984

Labour Code Amendment Act, 1984 (Bill 28, May)

The Act widened the scope of permissible employer action during union organizing drives, broadened the criteria for decertification, restricted secondary picketing and broadened criteria for strike-free economic development zones.

British Columbia Restrictions on certification May 1984