The Skills Development and Labour Statutes Amendment Act, 2001, Bill 18, was given third reading and Royal Assent late today, bringing it into force. The Labour Relations Code has now been amended to bring educational programs within its essential service provisions. Under the amended provisions, an essential service application can be made where a labour dispute “poses a threat to the provision of educational programs” to students under the School Act. If the Minister directs, the Labour Relations Board then will be required to designate those facilities, productions and services necessary or essential to prevent “immediate and serious disruption to the provision of educational programs.” Designated facilities, productions and services must be continued by the employer and all unions during a strike, to the extent directed by the Board. This language appears to give considerable discretion to the Labour Relations Board in determining what services must be provided during a teacher or support staff strike against a school board.
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