The federal government has enacted a new tax law that
requires unions to disclose financial information (Bill C-377,
An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, passed on June 30,
2015). The bill had been slowly progressing for four years. It was
the first private member's bill to proceed to the Senate this
session, and its passing was the final legislative act of the 41st
An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act brings into effect
provisions that require unions to disclose, among other things:
details of officers or executives who earn over $100,000;
financial statements including details of spending, borrowing
and accounts receivable;
details on all contracts over $5,000, including those with
third party vendors; and
money spent on lobbying, political activities and other
non-labour relations activities.
The law will apply to fiscal periods starting on January 1,
2016. This disclosed financial information must be made available
to the public by the Minister of Revenue. The enactment carries a
fine of $1,000 for each day that a union contravenes the section,
up to a maximum of $25,000.
The stated purpose behind the bill is to increase transparency
regarding union finances, as unions receive special tax treatment
under the Income Tax Act. The public, including union
members and management personnel, will be able to view unions'
Whether this bill will remain in effect is uncertain. Both
supporters and opponents expect that the law will be challenged in
court. Most provinces oppose the bill on the grounds that it is
unconstitutional because it allegedly infringes on the provincial
regulation of labour. The federal privacy commissioner has taken
the position that the bill is overbroad and infringes on privacy
rights. Finally, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin
Trudeau, has announced that he will repeal the bill if his party
forms a government in the next election.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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