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Proposed labour law will comply with Supreme Court ruling

The Government of Alberta is amending legislation to ensure it protects Albertans’ access to public services while respecting public sector workers’ bargaining rights.

If passed, Bill 4, An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services, will modernize two key Alberta labour laws to reflect rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Both courts found Alberta’s public sector strike prohibitions interfere with collective bargaining.

“This legislation is a made-in-Alberta solution that addresses our province’s unique needs. It’s fair to unionized employees, employers and the general public, and will ensure the public continues to have access to vital public services in the event of a labour dispute.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

The proposed legislation supports the collective bargaining process, places more responsibility for resolving labour disputes in the hands of employers and unions, and ensures Albertans have access to essential services in the event of a public sector strike.

The government held extensive consultations with Alberta’s public sector employers and unions on this model throughout the fall of 2015, led by well-respected labour lawyer Andy Sims, Q.C. Albertans were also invited to express their views in an online survey.

“I would like to thank all parties for their insightful submissions. Their collective wisdom has helped the government design legislation balancing the charter protected right to free collective bargaining with the need to protect the public at large by maintaining essential services during a labour dispute.”

Andy Sims Q.C.

The proposed new essential services legislation would apply to:

  • All Government of Alberta employees
  • Employees of agencies, boards and commissions
  • Non-academic staff at post-secondary institutes
  • Employees of Alberta Health Services
  • Employees of other approved hospitals (can include continuing senior care facilities, health centres and religious-based hospitals)

This proposed legislation amends the Public Service Employee Relations Act and the Labour Relations Code.

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