Federal government repeals controversial anti-union legislation

Canada’s unions are celebrating the June 14, 2017 adoption of Bill C-4, legislation that repeals the former federal government’s controversial anti-union Bills C-377 and C-525.

Bill C-377 would have seen unions, their suppliers, and other businesses they work with spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours producing and processing expense reports to be reviewed and filed – all at taxpayer expense.

Bill C-525 would have made it more difficult for workers in federally-regulated workplaces to join a union.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then promised that, if elected, he would repeal these bills and we are happy he has kept that promise,” said Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff. “By passing Bill C-4, the federal government has demonstrated it understands the importance of fair labour relations, and the critical role unions play advancing rights for all Canadian workers.” 

More information is available here.

General Secretary Hugh Wagner’s letter to the editor: Farm workers and Alberta Bill 17 – The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act

The government of Alberta’s efforts under Bill 17 – Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act seek to modernize labour legislation in the province and extend it to corporate farm operations. Small family farms will be exempt from coverage by Bill 17.

GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner recently wrote to the The Western Producer to comment on the efforts by the government. His letter was published and you can read it here:

General Secretary Hugh Wagner’s letter to the Editor – June 8, 2017The Western Producer

Labour movement applauds bill that supports victims of domestic violence

On March 15, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) representatives were at the Saskatchewan legislature to witness the introduction of a private member’s bill that would see necessary supports put into place for victims of domestic violence.

“The SFL has worked a long time with community organizations and the national labour movement to fight for more supports for victims of domestic violence in the workplace,” said Lori Johb, Secretary-Treasurer of the SFL and Chair of the SFL’s Women’s Committee, “we hope the provincial government will agree to pass Bill 603 – An Act to Provide Critical Supports for Victims of Domestic Violence,” she added.

If passed, the bill will allow victims of domestic violence to take paid and unpaid leave from work. Such leave can be taken to seek medical attention for the victim or their child, to obtain services from a victim services organization, to obtain counselling, to relocate, and to seek legal or law enforcement assistance.

The bill requires accommodation by employers to protect workers if an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in a workplace.

Bill 603 also allows the termination of tenancy – breaking leases – for victims of domestic violence that believe their safety, or the safety of their child, is at risk.

“These additional supports are so desperately needed for victims of domestic violence in Saskatchewan,” said Johb, “if passed, Saskatchewan will become a leader in Canada on this important topic,” she added.

Saskatchewan has the highest rates of domestic violence by intimate partners amongst all Canadian provinces, and victims of domestic violence are often forced to leave their homes quickly to escape dangerous situations. Furthermore, financial stability and a supportive work environment are vital for a victim of domestic violence.

Legislation that supports victims escaping circumstances of domestic violence has already been enacted in Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta.

Rally for Saskatchewan shows huge support for crowns, investments in public services

SFL logo 2017

March 8, 2017


People from across the province came together to Rally for Saskatchewan – and say NO to the Sask. Party government’s cuts and sell-offs of our Crown corporations.

“The Rally for Saskatchewan is a tremendous show of opposition to the Sask. Party government’s public service cuts, layoffs, and privatization agenda,” said Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL).

Saskatchewan people, community groups, and the labour movement all came together to show a unified voice in response to the Sask. Party government’s attacks on workers, services, and Crowns. People travelled to the rally by bus from: the Battlefords, Prince Albert, Melville, Melfort, Tisdale, Yorkton, Weyburn, Estevan, Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and Saskatoon.

Speakers at the rally spoke from a variety of perspectives, all of which highlighted the impact on real people that the Sask. Party government’s plans have.

Bob Bymoen, president, SGEU:

“Attacking public services, and the frontline workers who deliver them, is not the answer to our economic problems,” says SGEU President Bob Bymoen.  “We need better management at the top, and that should start with an independent review of all third party contracts with consultants, private contractors and P3 consortiums, to assess the real cost, and value of the money government has been spending.”

Barbara Cape, president, SEIU-West:

“The people of this province built the public services we enjoy today – we all know that the growing deficit of over a billion dollars is not because of public sector workers – it’s because of a resource boom that went flat,” said Barbara Cape, president of SEIU-West. “Saskatchewan people know the boom/bust cycle – we also know the true test of good government is how you manage the bad times.”  

Tom Graham, president, CUPE Saskatchewan:

“It is important that the Sask. Party government knows that people have grave concerns about their reckless spending – not to mention their blatant disregard for public services and working people,” said Tom Graham. “The people of this province deserve world class health care, education, and social services, and a government that will in invest in the people who provide these services.”

Lori Johb, secretary-treasurer, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour:

“People spoke loudly today, so I hope the Sask. Party government is listening: we reject your plans to sell SaskTel or any Crown, and we reject your cuts, waste, and mismanagement,” said SFL Secretary-Treasurer Lori Johb, “we also know cuts and privatization disproportionately impact women, a fact not lost on rally participants on International Women’s Day,” she added.

Joie Warnock, Western Director, Unifor:

“Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations are like the Goose that Laid Golden Eggs,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor’s Western Director. “Selling off the Crowns would be foolish and short-sighted.”

Kim Wilson, president, COPE Local 397:

“COPE 397 is asking the people of Saskatchewan to stand up to the current government and say NO to privatization, no to Bill 40, no to cuts, no layoffs, and no roll backs,” said Kim Wilson, president of COPE397, which represents workers at SGI, “the Crown corporations generate millions in dividends back to the province to pay for schools, roads, and hospitals. Public Sector employees did not cause the current deficit, and should not have to pay for the current government’s mismanagement,” she added.

People across the province have demonstrated a desire to keep the pressure on the Sask. Party government to withdraw Bill 40, protect our Crowns, invest in public services, and respect workers. As such, going forward the Own It! campaign, community groups, and the labour movement will be providing opportunities for Saskatchewan people to make their voices heard.

For additional information, contact:

Kent Peterson

Strategic Advisor
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour
o: 1 (306) 525-0197
m: 1 (306) 570-1855
e: k.peterson@sfl.sk.ca