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

Ambulance Services Collective Agreement Act, 2009 (Bill 21, November)

This legislation imposed a contract on B.C.’s ambulance paramedics after a seven-month strike in which workers had continued to work at essential service levels

British Columbia Back to work - settlement imposed November 2009

Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act, 2009 (Bill 41, May)

The legislation enacted a process for negotiating essential service designation levels for home care and support workers in 49 of the province’s private nursing homes in the event of a strike. Any disputes over designation levels will be referred to the Labour and Employment Board.

New Brunswick Restrictions on scope of bargaining May 2009

Construction Industry Labour Relations Amendment Act, 2009 (Bill 80, April 2010)

This legislation has three objectives: to eliminate sectoral bargaining in the construction industry, to allow the establishment of employer-dominated company unions and to greatly reduce the power of unions in the construction industry.

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining April 2009

Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)

This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, removed the right of public sector workers to collectively file complaints for pay equity with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, forcing women to file complaints as individuals. It imposes a $50,000 fine on any union that encourages or assists their own members in filing a pay equity complaint.

Federal Government Restrictions on scope of bargaining March 2009

Expenditure Restraint Act, 2009 (Bill C-10, March)

This Act, as part of the federal government’s 2009 Budget Implementation Act, imposed caps on salary increases for federal government employees, prohibited any additional remuneration such as allowance, bonus, differential or premium and prohibited any changes to the classification system that resulted in increased pay rates. In several cases, the legislation override previously negotiated collective agreements containing wage increases above the imposed salary caps. 

Federal Government Suspension of bargaining rights March 2009

York University Labour Disputes Resolution Act, 2009 (Bill 145, January)

The legislation ended an 11-week strike by teaching assistants and contract professors at York University and forced the dispute to be settled through mediation/arbitration.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration January 2009

Labour Relations Amendment Act (Bill 26, June 2008)

This Act does three things to attack worker rights: it restricts the rights of construction workers to choose union representation; it outlaws employer-paid wage-subsidy funds negotiated between employers and building trade unions; and it strips the right to strike from ambulance workers. Ambulance workers will now be forced to use binding arbitration rather than be allowed to engage in a legal strike.

Alberta Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

An Act to amend the Trade Union Act (Bill 6, June 2008)

This Act limits the rights of Saskatchewan’s workers. It reduces the ability of working people to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining. It also leaves workers with less protection against unfair practices from employers.

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

An Act respecting Essential Public Services (Bill 5, June 2008)

This Act provided for a definition of essential services so broad that practically any public service employee could be designated as an essential worker and therefore not eligible to exercise the right to strike. It is the most sweeping and heavy-handed essential services legislation in Canada. 

Saskatchewan Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2008

An Act to resolve labour disputes between the Toronto Transit Commission and Local 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, Lodge 235, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2 (Bill 66, April 20

This Bill ended a one-day strike by workers employed with the Toronto Transit Commission and imposed binding arbitration to settle all contract issues which were in dispute prior to the strike.

Ontario Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration April 2008