Minister O’Regan launches consultations to improve the collective bargaining process 

News release

October 19, 2022          Gatineau, Quebec            Employment and Social Development Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to free and fair collective bargaining. This includes maintaining a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada.

To this effect, the Government is committed to introducing legislation by the end of 2023 to prohibit the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces during a strike or lockout. This will make sure that all workers in federally regulated sectors continue to benefit from a meaningful right to strike.

Today, the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr., launched consultations to hear from Canadians and stakeholders on this commitment. The Government is also taking advantage of this opportunity to hear from stakeholders and Canadians on improving the maintenance of activities process, about which stakeholders have raised concerns. By improving this process, the Government will seek to limit interruptions to and protect collective bargaining while continuing to protect Canadians during a work stoppage. However, the Government is not looking to expand the types of services that need to be maintained during a strike or lockout. 

As a part of the consultation, the Government is looking for input on various elements, such as:

  • first-hand experiences with replacement workers and the maintenance of activities process;
  • potential impacts of the changes on stakeholders and their operations;
  • suggestions for change; and
  • key policy-design questions.

Employers, employer representatives, unions, workers, national Indigenous organizations and other key stakeholders and interested parties are invited to share their feedback on prohibiting the use of replacement workers and improving the maintenance of activities process by December 16, 2022. Following the consultation period, the feedback received will inform the development of legislation.  

Quotes

“This government will always protect free and fair collective bargaining, and we’re going to keep working with unions and employers to make the process better.”

Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.

Quick facts

  • Part I of the Canada Labour Code governs workplace relations and collective bargaining between unions and employers. This part contains provisions related to replacement workers and maintenance of activities, as well as dispute resolution, strikes and lockouts. It outlines the labour relations rights and responsibilities of employers, trade unions and employees.

  • Part I of the Code applies to 985,000 employees and 22,100 employers in interprovincial and international transportation, banking, postal and courier services, telecommunications, grain shipping, Indigenous government on First Nations territories, and Crown corporations, among others.

  • Prior to 1999, employers were not prohibited in any way from using replacement workers during a strike or lockout. In 1999, Part I of the Code was amended to provide a limited prohibition on the use of replacement workers during a work stoppage, with the intention of undermining a union’s representational capacity. This limited prohibition was the result of recommendations made in the Sims Task Force’s 1995 report Seeking a Balance, based on extensive consultations with employers and unions at the time.

Associated links

Contacts

Damien O’Brien
Director of Parliamentary Affairs
Office of the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
343-543-7653
damien.obrien@labour-travail.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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