Minister O’Regan releases the What We Heard report on banning replacement workers and improving the maintenance of activities process
September 19, 2023 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
The Government of Canada believes in free and fair collective bargaining. That is where the best agreements – ones that meet the needs of unions, employers and Canadians – are made.
The Government will introduce legislation by the end of 2023 to prohibit the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces during a strike or lockout. The use of replacement workers can distract from the bargaining table, prolong disputes, and jeopardize labour relations for years after. Collective bargaining can be hard work, but Canada’s economy depends on employers and workers working together to reach collective agreements.
Today, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan Jr. released the What We Heard report on prohibiting replacement workers and improving the maintenance of activities process, which summarizes feedback from consultations with employers, labour organizations and Indigenous partners, that concluded earlier this year.
In these consultations, the Minister sought information on the use of replacement workers and the current maintenance of activities process under the Canada Labour Code. By improving this process, the Government will seek to limit interruptions to collective bargaining while continuing to protect Canadians during a work stoppage.
The report highlights disagreements between employers and unions on the topic of replacement workers and whether they should be prohibited. On one hand, union stakeholders all supported a ban on replacement workers, with many urging the Government to introduce legislation as soon as possible. On the other hand, employer stakeholders opposed the idea and argued the Government should not proceed.
When it comes to issues related to the maintenance of activities, specific feedback was focused on three issues:
- the processing time of maintenance of activities requests;
- the need for review of maintenance of activities agreements; and
- the involvement of the Minister of Labour in the process.
Those who participated had a broad range of views, and their varied feedback and experiences reflect the complex nature of collective bargaining in federally regulated industries. The Government will carefully consider the results of the consultations, which will inform the development of legislation.
“We’re banning the use of replacement workers because we believe in collective bargaining. Our economy depends on employers and workers staying at the table and reaching a deal. The use of replacement workers can distract from negotiations, it can prolong disputes, and it can poison labour relations for years after.”
– Minister of Labour and Seniors Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Part I of the Canada Labour Code (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.
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.
- What We Heard: Prohibiting Replacement Workers in Federally Regulated Industries and Improving the Maintenance of Activities Process under the Canada Labour Code
- News Release: Minister O’Regan launches consultations to improve the collective bargaining process
- Consultation: Prohibiting replacement workers in federally regulated sectors
- Consultation: Improving the maintenance of activities process under the Canada Labour Code
- Overview of the parts of the Canada Labour Code
For media enquiries, please contact:
Office of the Minister of Labour and Seniors, Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter
- Date modified: