CFLR to host forum on Supreme Court of Canada decisions on labour rights

Sessions at CFLR Forum will examine particular aspects of the three Supreme Court of Canada decisions released in January 2015, discuss their implications for the Canadian labour movement and consider the impact the decisions will have on future Charter litigation by unions in Canada.

Toronto (08 April 2015) – The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) will be hosting a forum this week to examine three recent Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decisions that impact on labour rights in Canada. The decisions, all of which were released in January 2015, involve the three following cases:

  • SFL v. Saskatchewan, regarding the right to strike
  • Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada, regarding the right of Canadian workers to join an independent bargaining agent of their own choosing
  • Meredith v. Canada (Attorney General), regarding the constitutionality of legislative wage-restraint programs

Forum will bring together legal professionals and labour experts to discuss the direction of labour rights in Canada

The forum, taking place in Toronto on April 9, 2015, will be attended by some 50 participants, including the CFLR Board of Directors, members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Legal Challenges Committee and members of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers (CALL), representing union-side labour lawyers from across Canada.

It will consist of six sessions. Each of the sessions will be led by either a labour law academic or a labour lawyer who represented a union in one of the three SCC cases. The first session will provide a general overview of the three SCC decisions. The next five will examine particular aspects of each of these decisions, discuss their implications for the Canadian labour movement and consider the impact the decisions will have on future Charter litigation by unions in Canada.

Cooperation and coordination of legal cases important for the future of labour rights legislation

CFLR board member, and President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), James Clancy, noted that he hopes the forum will help build on the cooperation and coordination by unions that was evident in the lead up to and during the hearings of the three cases before the SCC in 2014.

“It’s obvious from these positive decisions that increased coordination amongst unions paid off for the labour movement. We need to learn from those decisions, and build on our success. We must ensure the labour movement continues to present strong and coordinated arguments before the courts in any future challenges to the constitutional rights of Canadian workers.”

Some of the questions that will be considered during the Forum are:

  • What are the implications for future litigation against back-to-work laws, which terminate or suspend employees' right to strike?
  • What are the implications for the right of workers to organize, to be represented by independent trade unions of their own choosing and to engage in meaningful bargaining?  
  • What are the broader implications for workers beyond collective bargaining and for other civil society associations outside of the workplace context?
  • What role did international law and Canada’s international commitments play in the Court’s interpretation of the Charter’s Section 2 (d) rights in each of the three decisions?
  • What would likely be the features of any future legislated wage-restraint program that the Court would find unconstitutional? 
  • How does the Court define the right to a meaningful process of collective bargaining and what circumstances would result in a breach of that right?
  • How does the SCC define essential services and on what basis does the Court decide that essential services legislation infringes on section 2 (d) of the Charter?
  • With regard to current cases before the Courts involving essential services legislation, what is the likely impact this decision will have on these cases?
  • What will be the impact on essential services legislation in other provinces where unions have the right to engage in a negotiation process to determine essential services?

CFLR

The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) is a national voice devoted to promoting labour rights as an important means to strengthening democracy, equality and economic justice here in Canada and internationally. CFLR was established and is sponsored by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

More information:

Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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