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

Labour Relations Act (March 2002)

The government invoked section 148 of the Act to suspend the right to strike for teachers in 22 school districts in March 2002.

Alberta Back to work - settlement imposed March 2002

Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, 2002 (Bill 29, January)

This Act eliminated much of the job security protection for health and social service workers that their unions managed to bargain as part of their collective agreements. It empowered health and social service employers to “contract out” to non-union employers not bound by the terms of the collective agreements, notwithstanding clauses to the contrary in collective agreements. Existing layoff and bumping provisions in collective agreements were rewritten by the legislation in favour of the employer. Severance pay was unilaterally reduced below even the standard applicable to non-union employees under provincial Employment Standards legislation.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining January 2002

Public Education Flexibility and Choice Act, 2002 (Bill 28, January)

The Act permitted public school board employers to override negotiated collective agreement provisions for teachers regarding class size, staffing formulae and intergration of special needs students and prevented these matters from being raised in collective bargaining.  It also allowed for contracting out.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining January 2002

Education Service Collective Agreement Act, 2002 (Bill 27, January)

The Act  imposed a three-year collective agreement on approximately 45,000 teachers employed by school boards.  The legislation went beyond the employer's last offer by eliminating 10 local agreements and nine schoool board districts where two or three local agreements previously existed.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights January 2002

Skills Development and Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2001 (Bill No. 18, August)

The Act restricted the right to strike for employees in the public school system by extending the designation of “essential services” to teaching and non-teaching personnel and prohibited strikes until essential service designations had been made by the Labour Relations Board.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining August 2001

Greater Vancouver Transit Services Settlement Act, 2001 (Bill 13, August)

The Act ended a strike by public transit workers.

British Columbia Back to work - settlement imposed August 2001

Health Care Services Collective Agreements Act, 2001 (Bill 15, August)

The Act imposed a three-year collective agreement on health care professionals based on the terms of the employer’s last offer.  The Bill was introduced after the 60-day “cooling-off” period imposed by Bill 2 (see above) failed to reach a collective agreement.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights August 2001

An Act to Amend the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Act, 2001 (Bill 15, June)

The Act narrowed the range of matters subject to collective bargaining for teachers.

Nova Scotia Restrictions on scope of bargaining June 2001

Health Care Services Continuation Act, 2001 (Bill 68, June)

This Act prevented a strike of health care workers from taking place and gave Cabinet the power to impose contract settlements that could not be challenged in court.  The legislation was withdrawn on July 5, 2001 after several days of strike action by health care workers and replaced with a form of binding arbitration known as final offer selection.

Nova Scotia Back to work - settlement imposed June 2001

Amendments to the Labour Relations Act, 2001 (Bill 18, May)

The amendments to the Act increased fines for illegal strikes by unions and illegal lockouts by employers.

Newfoundland and Labrador Restrictions on scope of bargaining May 2001