Legislation will remove a longstanding RCMP Act prohibition against unionization after being declared unconstitutional in a 2009 court ruling.
Ottawa (18 June 2010) - The Harper government has finally introduced legislation that will allow the RCMP to form a legal union and bargain collectively.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act was introduced grudgingly in Parliament on Thursday by Treasury Board President Stockwell Day to bring the RCMP Act into line with an April 2009 court ruling declaring that its longstanding ban against unionization within the force was unconstitutional.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has advocated collective bargaining rights for RCMP officers for many years as part of its ongoing labour rights campaign.
The new bill will remove sections within the RCMP Act preventing officers from bargaining collectively on issues such as pay, grievances, working conditions and workplace safety. It will not give them the right to strike or to work to rule.
A background document posted on the RCMP website says officers will now have the choice to decide – like any other group of employees – whether they want a legal union to represent them. They now have only a relatively toothless staff association.
"Supported by a new labour relations regime, RCMP members will be able to choose whether they want to continue to work in a non-unionized environment … or to work in a unionized environment, represented by a certified bargaining agent," the document reads.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews made clear that the generally anti-labour Harper government was acting only because it was forced to do so by the courts. " ... there is a charter right for the RCMP to decide whether or not they wish to unionize," he noted.
The RCMP has 22,000 members nationwide and accounts for about 20% of the country's police officers. It is the only major force that does not have collective bargaining rights.
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
• Ontario court says RCMP officers entitled to a union
• NUPGE's labour rights page