Proposed Amendment to the Canada Labour Code by the NDP
The New Democratic Party presented Bill C-302 on October 27, 2022, to suggest an amendment to Article 94 of the Canada Labour Code that aims to prohibit federally regulated employers from using replacement workers during a strike or lockout, which could be a significant change from the current situation.
During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Human Resources on February 3, 2023, the Minister of Labour, Seamus O'Regan, stated that the government intends to introduce a joint bill with the NDP to amend the Canada Labour Code.
In March 2023, this amendment to the Canada Labour Code was formally announced during the federal budget of 2023. Unfortunately, due to the forum that was chosen, very few people became aware of this important change to the Canada Labour Code .
Provisions of Bill C-302:
- During a strike or a lock out, employers are prohibited from using replacement workers hired after the collective bargaining notice is sent, any of their employees as well as the services of any other employees by other employer, to perform all or part of the tasks of the bargaining unit affected by a strike or lockout, except in exceptional cases.
- The Minister may appoint an investigator to verify compliance with the prohibitions established by the law.
- Investigators may enter any workplace. However, they must be accompanied by a person designated by the accredited union, a person designated by the employer, and any other person deemed necessary.
- The workplace manager and all employees are required to provide all necessary assistance to investigators.
- The investigator is required to present their nomination certificate and a piece of identification.
- After an investigation, the investigator must write a report that will be sent to the Minister and to the parties concerned.
- The investigator has the same powers as a commissioner appointed under the Inquiries Act, except for the power to issue a prison sentence .
- The employer may only hire a replacement worker for conservation reasons and not to maintain the production of goods or services.
- The employer may hire a replacement worker to prevent a threat to life, health, safety, destruction or damage to machinery, equipment, premises, or land, or serious environmental damage.
- The prohibitions do not apply to senior managers, directors, or officers of companies, unless they act on behalf of their employer after being designated by employees or an accredited union.
Evidently, this is only an overview of the proposed amendments to Article 94 of the Canada Labour Code. As of publication, the House of Commons has only carried out the first reading of the bill. However, the Minister of Labour has indicated that a bill could be passed by the end of 2023. It also remains to be seen whether it will be adopted in its current form or in another form that could, for instance, bestow certain powers to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, in addition to the powers conferred to the investigator.