Canada’s unions celebrate repeal of controversial anti-union legislation

June 14, 2017

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

“Our affiliates and labour activists across the country have organized and campaigned against these bills from the beginning, and this is their victory to celebrate,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. 

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then promised that, if elected, he would repeal these bills and we are happy he has kept that promise,” he added.

The former Conservative government argued Bill C-377 was about union transparency, but experts from across the spectrum agreed it was really about red tape that would have forced unions, their suppliers, and other businesses they work with to 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. It was opposed by labour relations experts, but was nonetheless passed into law by the Conservatives in December 2014.

Bill C-377 was opposed by everyone from the NHL Players’ Association to Conservative and Liberal senators, constitutional experts, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, the Canadian Bar Association, the insurance and mutual fund industry, seven provinces, and a long and diverse list of others in the business, financial, professional, legal, labour, and academic communities, private and public, federal and provincial. Despite that opposition, the Conservatives used their Senate majority to pass the bill on June 30, 2015.

“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,” said Yussuff. 

“I want to thank everyone who opposed these bills over the years, in addition to both former minister MaryAnn Mihychuk for introducing Bill C-4 in January last year, and current labour minister Patty Hajdu for her Senate testimony in support of the bill. We are also grateful to Senator Diane Bellemare for shepherding it through the Red Chamber,” he added.

Legislative timeline

December 5, 2011: Bill C-377 is introduced in the House of Commons

March 26, 2011: Order papers are prorogued because federal election is called

May 2, 2011: Conservatives win false majority government

March 14, 2012: The reintroduced Bill C-377 is referred to the House of Commons finance committee.

October 25, 2012: CLC testifies on Bill C-377 at House finance committee

December 12, 2012: Bill C-377 passes in the House and referred to the Senate

June 5, 2013: Bill C-525 is introduced in the House

June 26, 2013: Senate passes Bill C-377 with amendment. The amended bill is sent back to the House for consideration

October 16, 2013: Bill C-525 is reintroduced in the House

October 17, 2013: Conservatives ignore Senate amendment to Bill C-377 and refer it back to the Senate 

January 29, 2014: Bill C-525 is referred to HRSDC committee in the House. CLC and PSAC testify in February 2014.

April 9, 2014: Bill C-525 passes in the House and is referred to the Senate

December 16, 2014: Bill C-525 passes in the Senate and receives Royal Assent

June 30, 2015: Despite opposition by a minority of senators, Bill C-377 passes in the Senate and receives Royal Assent in the House. Reporting requirements would apply to labour organizations as early as December 31, 2015.

October 19, 2015: Liberals win a false majority in the federal election

December 21, 2015: The Minister of National Revenue announces she is waiving the Conservatives’ anti-union Bill C-377’s reporting requirements for unions and labour trusts.

January 28, 2016: Bill C-4 is introduced in the House.

March 7, 2016: Bill C-4 is referred to the House HUMA committee. The CLC testifies before the committee in May 2016.

October 19, 2016: Bill C-4 passes in the House and is referred to the Senate the next day.

December 15, 2016: Bill C-4 is referred to Senate committee. CLC testifies before the committee on February 1, 2017.

April 18, 2017: Senate passes amendments to Bill C-4, effectively negating important aspects of the Bill, and refers the amended Bill back to the House for consideration. 

May 17, 2017: The House overwhelmingly rejects the Senate’s amendments to Bill C-4, sending the original back to the Senate. 

June 14, 2017: Bill C-4 is passed by the Senate.