An Act to amend the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act and other Acts

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

This enactment amends the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act to restore the procedures for the choice of process of dispute resolution including those involving essential services, arbitration, conciliation and alternative dispute resolution that existed before December 13, 2013.

It also amends the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act to restore the procedures applicable to arbitration and conciliation that existed before December 13, 2013.

It repeals provisions of the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 that are not in force that amend the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Public Service Employment Act and it repeals not in force provisions of the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 that amend those provisions.

It repeals Division 20 of Part 3 of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1, which authorizes the Treasury Board to establish and modify, despite the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, terms and conditions of employment related to the sick leave of employees who are employed in the core public administration.

Excerpt from Treasury Board President Scott Brison address to Parliament:
Bill C-62 affirms the Canadian values of fairness and justice. It combines the government’s previous bills C-5 and C-34. It makes no substantive changes to the earlier bills; it simply incorporates the adjustments necessary to combine proposals regarding sick leave, collective bargaining, and essential services for the federal public service into one piece of legislation. Merging these two bills into one is an efficient way to restore the equity and balance in our public service labour relations regime that existed before the legislative changes were introduced by the Harper Conservatives in 2013.

In part, Bill C-62 would repeal contentious sections of Bill C-59, which was a piece of legislation introduced, without consultation, through an omnibus budget bill by the previous government. Bill C-59 had given the government the authority to essentially ignore the public service labour relations act of the day and unilaterally modify the labour relations law that applies to and protects public servants. It would have allowed the government to unilaterally impose a new sick leave regime on public servants without negotiation or consultation.

On taking office, our government committed to not exercise the powers given to the government in Bill C-59, and now we are following through on our commitment by repealing the legislation itself.

Public servants and their representatives have made their position on the law very clear. They are upset and believe that the law violates their right to participate in a meaningful collective bargaining process.
We agree with the public service that this law brought in changes that were neither fair nor balanced. That is why we are acting to repeal them. Bill C-62 also repeals the most contentious changes made to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act in 2013.

These include changes that allowed the employer to designate essential services unilaterally, to make conciliation with the right to strike the default process for resolving conflicts, and to impose new factors that arbitrators must consider when making a recommendation or award.

The amendments immediately created an antagonistic labour relations regime and made employer-bargaining agent relations worse. A number of unions even brought charter challenges related to these provisions. We have every reason to believe that such challenges would have been allowed by the courts.

In addition, under the new legislation, bargaining agents will have the choice once again to determine which dispute resolution process they wish to use in the event of an impasse in bargaining. They will be able to select either arbitration or conciliation with the right to strike.

As well, public interest commissions and arbitration boards will be able to determine for themselves how much weight to give the many factors that come into play when making their decisions, factors like compensation that influence the terms and conditions of today’s modern workforce.

This is how the system worked before the amendments of 2013. I look forward to getting back to a collaborative and fair approach once Bill C-62 receives royal assent.