Introduced by the new federal government mere months after its
election, Bill C-4, aims to return the advantages conferred on
unions under the former provisions of the Canada Labour
Code, almost before they were ever missed.
You may recall that only 18 months ago the then-Conservative
government passed Bill C-525 which, among other things, introduced
several changes to the Canada Labour Code. At the
time, we wrote that the changes would "level the playing field" in matters
of union certification and decertification, requiring both types of
representation application to be decided by secret-ballot vote and
setting appropriate thresholds for support to trigger that
vote. This was heralded as a positive change since the old
system required only card-based support for certification whereas
the decertification process was much more difficult and
The other significant change under Bill C-525 that was viewed
(at least in these circles) as an effort to restore fairness to the
system was the removal of strict limitations on the availability to
employees of the decertification process itself.
Unfortunately, it appears as though the Liberal government is
poised to essentially repeal both of these aspects of change,
despite the fact that they have so far been in place for only a
year (Bill C-525 came into force June 16, 2015). Noted
Arbitrator/Mediator and former Vice-Chair of the Canada Industrial
Relations Board ("CIRB") Mr. Graham Clarke recently
delivered a paper to the Law Society of Upper Canada entitled "Federal Labour Law 2016: Back to the
Future". In it he notes that the proposed
changes under Bill C-4 will "reinstated the card-based
certification regime the CIRB had applied for decades" and
that "changes to the revocation process [decertification] will
protect bargaining agents [unions] during two specific vulnerable
periods." The "vulnerable periods" refer
When no collective agreement is in place; and
When the union has acquired the right to strike.
In addition, Bill C-4 will raise the threshold of support
necessary for the CIRB to even entertain a decertification
application from 40% to the majority support level of 50% plus
As always, we will continue to monitor the progress of this
proposed legislation. However, having just passed Second
Reading without any amendment – not to mention that these
issues were raised during the election as part of the Liberals'
successful campaign platform – it seems inevitable that Bill
C-4 will come to pass. In the interim, the lawyers at
CCPartners have the expertise to assist you with any
Code-related issues, as well as to prepare you to
deal with this transition. Click
here for a list of lawyers at CCPartners who can
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).