Plowing ahead based on ideology is a bad idea

Supreme Court of Canada rules the government’s Essential Services Act unconstitutional

NDP Labour critic David Forbes said Friday’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling against the Government of Saskatchewan’s labour laws is historic – and should send a loud message to Brad Wall that recklessly plowing ahead with plans based on ideology, instead of fairness and common sense, is a bad idea.

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the right to strike is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, as a result, declared Saskatchewan's essential services labour law passed in 2008 to be unconstitutional

The country's top court ordered the provincial government to pay the unions' considerable legal fees for the Charter challenge, adding to the significant amount of money the government has already spent trying to save a law which the court says it never should have introduced in the first place.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision, but it never should have had to come to this,” said Forbes. “A good government works in the interest of all people and brings forward balanced legislation that takes everyone's rights into consideration. But Mr. Wall just plowed ahead based on ideology, rather than in the interests of fairness and common sense, and he recklessly ignored the fundamental rights of working people.

“The result has cost Saskatchewan a whole lot of money, and a whole lot of time.”

Forbes said the NDP Opposition wants the government to move swiftly to fix this flawed legislation.

“We expect a fair and balanced law, that fully respects people's constitutionally protected rights, and is written with meaningful consultation with all stakeholders,” said Forbes. “The Supreme Court is clear: that law cannot designate large swaths of workers for no reason. It must include a good appeals process. And, it must provide another fair method – like third-party binding arbitration – in the rare cases when a worker is considered too essential to strike.”

Labour peace should always be the goal, and that is best brought about by good faith bargaining, according to the NDP.

“The Supreme Court said the right to strike is there because it’s necessary to achieve a balanced bargaining table,” said Forbes. “We couldn’t agree more. We believe that labour laws should aim to create an environment that delivers labour peace through fairness. The fact is that the vast, vast majority of public sector contracts in Saskatchewan have been settled without job action. That’s in the best interests of Saskatchewan families, and unfair labour laws only serve to disrupt that.”

- 30 -

For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus