Constitutional Challenge to Conservative Government’s 2015 Budget Bill
On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, legislation enacting the latest budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 (Bill C-59) received royal assent. One part of this omnibus legislation gives Treasury Board instantaneous power to impose whatever sick leave and short-term disability terms and conditions of employment it chooses on our members, including cutting sick days and erasing banked sick days, along with the power to override existing provisions in collective agreements. Measures that would normally be prohibited by the Public Service Labour Relations Act will now be allowed under a legislation that sanctions bad faith bargaining and does away with statutory freeze protection related to sick leave.
In our view, the portion of this legislation dealing with sick leave bargaining is unconstitutional. It fundamentally undermines the constitutionally protected process of collective bargaining and the right to strike. This violation of s. 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms cannot be justified on any basis, and amounts to unfairly stacking the deck in Treasury Board’s favour at the bargaining table.
Worse still, the President of Treasury Board has publicly stated that the time period for any sick leave discussions is extremely limited and that Treasury Board will not negotiate sick leave beyond the federal election date of October 19, 2015.
The Institute, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees as well as 10 other federally regulated bargaining agents have joined forces to challenge this legislation before the courts. The notice of application setting out the grounds for this constitutional challenge can be viewed by clicking here.
Given the above, the Institute has asked the Treasury Board to confirm that it will not use its powers under the legislation until such time as a court has determined its constitutionality