June 22, 2017
The Parliament of Canada recently passed Bill C-4, which contains two important changes of which trade unions should take note. The legislation received Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, meaning it is now law.
The first change concerns certification rules for unions seeking to represent employees under federal jurisdiction, where card-based certification is restored for unions who can demonstrate greater than 50% support in a proposed bargaining unit.
The second change removes certain financial disclosure requirements for unions under the Income Tax Act.
Bill C-4 repeals in full two pieces of legislation passed in 2015 – Bill C-525 (which required a secret-ballot vote for all certifications under federal jurisdiction), and Bill C-377 (which imposed extensive new financial disclosure requirements on unions).
New Rules Restore Card-Based Certification for Workplaces under Federal Jurisdiction
Prior to changes that took effect in 2015, unions could acquire bargaining rights for new groups of employees in workplaces under federal jurisdiction without a secret ballot vote being required where they could demonstrate majority (i.e. greater than 50%) support in a proposed bargaining unit appropriate for collective bargaining by showing signed union cards.
In 2015, Bill C-525 changed the certification rules to require a secret-ballot vote in all cases.
Bill C-4 has now restored the same rules that existed prior to the passage of Bill C-525 in 2015, meaning card-based certification is once again permitted.
Card-based certification provisions are restored to the Canada Labour Code, Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Act. These statutes apply to different types of workplaces under federal jurisdiction, but do not affect the majority of workplaces in Canada, which are governed by provincial rather than federal labour relations legislation.
Bill C-4 contains a transition provision, specifying that any certification application filed on or before June 21, 2017 will be dealt with under the old rules, meaning a secret-ballot vote will still be required. For applications filed from June 22, 2017 onwards, card-based certification will be permitted.
Certain Provisions Requiring Extensive Financial Disclosure from Unions Repealed
Under rules passed in Bill C-377 in 2015, unions operating in Canada were required to make extensive financial disclosure filings pursuant to the Income Tax Act. Bill C-4 eliminates these requirements, which were quite onerous for unions.
Any financial disclosure obligations unions had under the Income Tax Act prior to Bill C-377, and any such obligations they may have under labour relations statutes or any other piece of legislation, remain in place.
Koskie Minsky to Advise Regarding Impact of Changes
Clients should contact Koskie Minsky in the event they require advice on how the changes made in Bill C-4 impact their rights and obligations.