Bill C-4

Proposed Amendments to Federal Labour Statutes Introduced

Recently, Bill C-4 was introduced in the House of Commons for first reading. As currently framed, the Bill proposes amendments to a number of Federal labour statutes including the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act. If passed, these amendments would restore the procedures for the certification and the revocation of certification of bargaining agents that existed prior to June 16, 2015.

Canada Labour Code

Bill C-4 amends sections of the Canada Labour Code dealing with certification and representation votes, as well as sections pertaining to the revocation of certification.

Under the current legislation, the Canada Labour Board must order a representation vote if: an application for certification has been received; the bargaining unit is determined to be appropriate for collective bargaining; and the Board is satisfied that at least 40% of the employees in the bargaining unit wish to have the union represent them. Bill C-4 proposes to add a permissive representation vote, at the discretion of the Board, in order to satisfy it that the employees of the proposed unit wish to have the union represent them. This is in addition to having the mandatory representation vote when a union applies for certification, although the proposed amendment alters the employee satisfaction necessary from “at least 40%” to between 35-50% of the employees in the bargaining unit.

Changes are also proposed to the sections that deal with the revocation of certification. The proportion of representation necessary to apply for an order revoking certification, or an order declaring that the bargaining agent is no longer entitled to represent the employees, would increase from 40% to a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit. In addition, upon receipt of an application, the Board would also have the discretion to inquire, by representation vote or otherwise, as to whether it is satisfied that the majority of employees no longer wish to be represented by the bargaining agent.

Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act

Bill C-4 proposes similar changes to the certification and revocation provisions of Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.

Presently, in order to grant a certification the Board must be satisfied that a majority of employees in the bargaining unit (as opposed to 40%) wish the employee organization to represent them as their bargaining agent. The amendments proposed would provide the Board with the discretion to order a representation vote to make this determination. The proposed amendments would also permit any person representing a majority of employees in the bargaining unit (as opposed to 40%) to apply for a declaration that the bargaining agent no longer represents the employees in the bargaining unit. There is also an increase from 40% to a majority needed to apply to the Board for (1) a declaration that the employee organization certified no longer represents the majority of the employees in the unit, and (2) to revoke the certification of an employee organization as bargaining agent for the unit.

Public Service Labour Relations Act

Similar amendments are proposed to the certification and revocation provisions contained in the Public Service Labour Relations Act. Most significantly, while presently at least 40% of employees in the unit need to wish to have the employee organization represent them as their bargaining agent, the proposed change would require majority support from the employees in the unit. The change would also give the Board the ability to order a representation vote for the purpose of satisfying itself that a majority of employees wish the organization to represent them as their bargaining agent. In terms of revocation, like certification, the proportion of the bargaining unit required to satisfy the Board that the employee organization no longer represents the employees would be increased from 40% to a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit. In addition, while under the current Act the Board must take a representation vote to be satisfied, the new legislation would make such a vote discretionary.

Income Tax Act

Bill C-4 would remove the provisions in the Income Tax Act which require labour organizations and trusts to provide the Minister of National Revenue with certain annual returns containing information that would be made available to the public.

Specifically, sections 149.01 and 239(2.31) of the Act would be repealed. Section 149.01 currently defines what entities or activities are subject to the disclosure (i.e. labour organizations, labour trusts, what constitutes labour activities) as well as the content of the disclosure. Section 239 (2.31) provides the potential penalties for the contravention of section 149.01.

Transitional Provisions

Should there be an existing application for certification made after June 16, 2015 under the Canada Labour Code, Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act or Public Service Labour Relations Act, and ending immediately before the proposed amendments come into force, those applications would be dealt with and disposed of in accordance with the respective Act as it read immediately before the amendments come into force.

Questions relating to the content of the article may be directed to Mark Colavecchia.