Quebec Superior Court declares parts of the 2009 federal budget unconstitutional
13 juillet 2012
The Quebec Superior Court has just delivered a
major blow to the Harper government in a decision involving the
CBC’s unionized workers in Quebec and New Brunswick. The Court has
ruled that a number of key clauses were unconstitutional in the
2009 budget legislation which was passed on March 12, 2009.
It is a clear victory for CUPE Local 675 who challenged the
legislation for violating the right to collective bargaining, a
right protected under the guarantee of freedom of association in
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The bill actually
overrode wage increases that had previously been negotiated in the
collective agreement with no opportunity to renegotiate.
Basically the Court ruled that the government should have allowed
the CBC to negotiate with the union. But as usual, the Harper
government chose to take the bulldozer route. It took a Superior
Court decision to remind them of the importance of freedom of
association and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, said
Annick Desjardins, CUPE representative and lawyer assigned to the
The ruling comes as a relief to CBC workers. The Court is
reiterating that they should have a say when it comes to
determining their work conditions. It’s a good thing we have the
Charter and courts to keep the Harper government in line and ensure
that CBC workers’ rights are respected, said Isabelle Doyon,
president of the union representing Radio-Canada (CBC) office
workers and professionals (CUPE 675).
According to the judgment (par. 184), the government’s attitude is
even more surprising considering that evidence indicates that the
Treasury Board Secretariat was well aware of the principles
established in the B.C. Health Services judgment. This Supreme
Court ruling confirmed that collective bargaining in good faith is
protected under freedom of association in the Charter.
A complete copy of the ruling (in French) is available on CUPE’s
website at http://bit.ly/Nr8Htv
The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is Canadas largest
union. With around 615,000 members across Canada, CUPE represents
workers in communications, health care, education, municipalities,
libraries, universities, social services, public utilities,
transportation, emergency services and airlines.