The Alberta government recently introduced Bill 4,
An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing
Essential Services, which proposes to extend the
right to strike to certain public-sector workers.
Alberta has traditionally banned strikes and lockouts involving
most public-sector employees. However, in the 2015 decision
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC
4, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the right to strike is
constitutionally protected, and thus struck down Saskatchewan's
essential services legislation on the basis that it infringed on
the protected right in a variety of ways. The purpose of Bill 4 is
to bring Alberta into compliance with the Supreme Court's
Bill 4 proposes to amend Alberta's Public Services
Employee Relations Act and the Labour Relations Code.
It extends the right to strike (and the corresponding employer
right of lockout) to health care workers employed by Alberta Health
Services and other approved hospitals, employees of the provincial
government and agencies, boards and commissions and non-academic
staff at post-secondary institutions. The right to strike does
not extend to Firefighters, non-Alberta Health
Services ambulance operators and their attendants, police officers,
academic staff and graduate students at post-secondary
institutions. Those workers remain subject to compulsory interest
arbitration to resolve impasses in collective bargaining. Under
Bill 4, those who can strike must first negotiate an agreement with
the government so that essential services could be maintained in
the event of a strike or lockout.
Bill 4 passed its first reading on March 15, 2016. The second
reading has been adjourned to April 4.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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