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

Putting Students First Act, 2012 (Bill 115, September)

The Act amends the Education Act requiring collective agreements between School Boards and employees to freeze all forms of compensation for a two year period reeze beginning September 1 and eliminate the accumulation of sick leave credits after August 31, 2012.  The legislation is a pre-emptive piece of ‘back to work’ law before there is any  real threat of strike or lockout and without providing for independent binding arbitration.  It gives the Minister of Education unprecedented powers, including the right to restrict strikes and lockouts and impose terms into collective agreements at any time.  Bill 115 was repealed January 23, 2013, but the effects of the legislation still remain in effect. 

Ontario Suspension of bargaining rights September 2012

An Act to Amend the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, 2012 (Bill 38, June)

The Act permits the government to have the Labour Relations Board submit the final offer of government, as the employer, to a vote of bargaining unit members.  The amendment can create a situation where the union has spent weeks going through a democratic process to get a strike vote from the membership, only to find the government forcing members to vote again, bargaining unit by bargaining unit. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2012

An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of rail service operations, 2012 (Bill C-39, May)

The Act ended a six-day strike between CP Rail and its 4,800 employers represented by the Teamsters. It also imposed high fines for non-compliance, and conferred on the Minister of Labour the unilateral right to select the arbitrator to settle remaining issues in dispute while prohibiting the right of the parties to challenge the selection.

Federal Government May 2012

An Act to provide for the continuation and resumption of air service operations, 2012 (Bill C-33, March)

This legislation substantially interfered in the collective bargaining process between Air Canada and its 8,200 technical, maintenance and operational support employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and the airline’s 3,000 pilots represented by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA). The legislation prevented both unions from taking strike action and sent both disputes to a bias arbitration process.

Federal Government Back to work - settlement imposed March 2012

Education Improvement Act, 2012 (Bill 22, March)

The legislation took away the right to strike from BC’s 41,000 public school teachers, imposed a wage freeze and sent remaining unresolved issues to a government-appointed “mediator” who was mandated to operate under a narrow government mandate focused on employer concessions. The legislation also re-introduced parts of Bills 27 and 28 passed by the Liberal government in 2001, which prohibited bargaining on class size, class composition and the ratios of teachers to students. In April 2011, the BC Supreme Court ruled that those sections of Bills 27 and 28 were unconstitutional and in breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining March 2012

An Act to Eliminate Union Placement and Improve the Operation of the Construction Industry (Bill 33, December)

The legislation introduced undemocratic and anti-union provisions such as abolishing union hiring halls, eliminating the long-standing practice of majority rule for ratification of collective agreements, and increasing state-interference in the affairs of trade unions.

Quebec Restrictions on certification December 2011

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act, 2011 (Bill C-6, June)

This legislation force locked-out postal workers back to work, is bias against CUPW and its members. It imposed wage increases that are less than the employer’s last offer and referred all other outstanding issues to final offer arbitration and restricted the impariality of the arbitrator in deciding on a settlement.

Federal Government Back to work - settlement imposed June 2011

TTC Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2011 (Bill 150, March)

This Act eliminates the right to strike by the transit workers and provides for binding arbitration, should negotiations fail to reach agreement.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration March 2011

An Act to ensure the continuity of the provision of legal services within the Government and certain public bodies, 2011 (Bill 135, February)

This Act ended a two week strike by the provinces 1,500 government lawyers crown prosecutors. It also imposed a five-year agreement on the lawyers with a six percent salary raise, far short of the 40 percent wage hike the Quebec Crown Prosecutors Association had been asking for during negotiations.

Quebec Back to work - settlement imposed February 2011

An Act to Amend the Labour Act of Prince Edward Island, 2011 (Bill 35, January)

This Act amends the provincial Labour Act to add employees of ambulance service providers as well as dispatchers for police, fire and ambulance services to the list of essential workers who cannot strike but must instead go to binding arbitration if contract negotiations break down.

Prince Edward Island Restrictions on scope of bargaining January 2011