Constitutional Challenge to Harper’s Budget Bill
Legislation enacting the latest budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 (Bill C-59) has finally 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. 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.
While Treasury Board has submitted its proposals around sick leave and short-term disability plans – its key issue this round – the Institute has not yet had the opportunity to fully explore alternatives or make its own proposals on this particular issue. Much remains to be bargained but we are now operating in a very different environment.
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 10 other federally regulated bargaining agents have joined forces to challenge this legislation before the courts. The Court documents related to this litigation can be viewed by clicking here.
Notice of Application
Notice of Motion of the Applicants
Affidavit of George C.B. Smith
Affidavit of Hélène Paris
Affidavit of Nick Giannakoulis
Affidavit of Stan Buday
Affidavit of Scott Chamberlain
Affidavit of Jamie Dunn
Affidavit of R. Scott Milne
Affidavit of Joseph B. Rose
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.