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

An Act ensuring continuity of electrical service by Hydro-Québec, 1990 (Bill 58, May)

The Act ended a strike of 15,700 electrical workers and imposed an 18-month collective agreement on them.

Quebec Back to work - settlement imposed May 1990

Public Service (Collective Bargaining) Act (Regulation 165/90, June 1990)

The government passed a back-to-work order allowing for suspension of the right to strike under sections 30, 32 and 51(1) ending a 13-day strike of hospital support staff.

Newfoundland and Labrador Back to work - settlement imposed June 1990

Public Sector Bargaining Disclosure Act, 1990 (Bill 79, July)

The Act required public sector bargaining parties to file their positions with a Public Sector Bargaining Registrar, allowing employers to influence the timing of strikes.

British Columbia Restrictions on scope of bargaining July 1990

Livestock Industry Diversification Act, 1990 (Bill 31, July)

The Act amended the Labour Relations Code to exclude persons engaged in the raising of “game production animals” from organizing.

Alberta Denial of right to join a union July 1990

Labour Relations Amendment Act, 1990 (Bill 12, December)

The Act repealed Final Offer Selection, a procedure included in the Labour Relations Act in 1987, that allowed union and management representatives to present a final proposal to an arbitrator-selector to be chosen as the new collective agreement.

Manitoba Restrictions on scope of bargaining December 1990

Compensation Fairness Act, 1991 (Bill 82, March)

The Act allowed for the determination of wages for public sector employees by the employer and a government-appointed Commissioner, on the basis of “ability to pay”, with reference to “any fiscal or financial policies adopted by the government”.  The Commissioner was given broad powers to override existing collective agreements, impose wage settlements, dictate the manner of calculation of compensation and impose enforcement orders not subject to appeal.

British Columbia Suspension of bargaining rights March 1991

Restraint of Compensation in the Public Sector Act, 1991 (Bill 16, April)

The Act suspended collective bargaining for approximately 25,000 public sector employees, imposed a one-year wage freeze and prohibited retroactive pay equity adjustments.

Newfoundland and Labrador Suspension of bargaining rights April 1991

Compensation Restraint in the Public Sector Act, 1991 (Bill 160, May)

The Act extended existing collective agreements of public sector employees for two years and imposed a two-year wage freeze.

Nova Scotia Suspension of bargaining rights May 1991

Expenditure Management Act, 1991 (Bill 73, May)

The Act provided for a one-year wage freeze for public sector employees and imposed restrictions on collective bargaining for the same period.

New Brunswick Suspension of bargaining rights May 1991

British Columbia Grain Handling Operations Act, 1991 (Bill C-25, June)

The Act ended a strike by grain handlers, extended the term of the collective agreement and provided for the appointment of a mediator-arbitrator for the purposes of concluding a new collective agreement.

Federal Government Back to work - dispute sent to arbitration June 1991