“Bill C-377 has nothing to do with taxation or tax policy, and everything to do with imposing costly burdens on unions and disclosing sensitive information to employers for strategic advantage.”
Ottawa (30 Oct. 2012) – In a submission to the House of Commons Finance Committee, the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR) maintains that “Bill C-377 is a thinly disguised anti-union measure, designed to upset the balance of power in collective bargaining relationships across Canada.”
The draft legislation, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (labour organizations), if passed, would force unions to provide an incredibly onerous level of detailed financial disclosure about their work on behalf of their members.
The private member's bill, sponsored by Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Russ Hiebert, would require all unions and each of their locals to disclose detailed financial information such as salaries, supplier contracts, loans, accounts receivables, investments and spending on organizing, collective bargaining, education, lobbying and all political activities. All this information would be made public on a federal government website. Failure to comply would result in a $1,000/day fine for every day not in compliance.
According to the CFLR submission, “Bill C-377 has nothing to do with taxation or tax policy, and everything to do with imposing costly burdens on unions and disclosing sensitive information to employers for strategic advantage. The draft legislation does little or nothing to promote transparency or accountability to union members. Instead, it imposes significant and unnecessary costs on trade unions, making it more difficult to organize and engage in collective bargaining on behalf of their membership.”
The CFLR contends that “it would be inappropriate for the Finance Committee to approve a private members bill that shamelessly encroaches on provincial jurisdiction under the Constitution Act, 1867. Regulation of internal union affairs is a matter of provincial responsibility, and has no place in federal tax legislation.”
Quoting from the 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision that held, “Government measures that substantially interfere with the ability of individuals to associate with a view to promoting work-related interests violate the guarantee of freedom of association under section 2(d) of the Charter” the CFLR noted that Bill C-377 would not pass a constitutional challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Bill C-377 has been roundly criticized by opponents, including law professors and the Canadian Bar Association. It is supported by such anti-union groups as the Fraser Institute, the Merit Shop Contractors and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Today, the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates are participating in a lobby of Conservative MPs against Bill C-377.
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. The key objectives the Foundation has established for itself are to create greater public awareness and understanding of labour rights as a key critical component of human rights and to build effective political momentum and public support for progressive labour law reform. CFLR