In a 228-page judgment, a Manitoba judge found that the province`s Sustainability of Public Services Act (Bill 28) violates workers` rights to freedom of association, in accordance with the jurisprudence of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The 2017 legislation applied to more than 110,000 public sector employees over a four-year period that resulted in the expiry of collective agreements and froze wages for two years and allowed only limited increases (0.75 and 1 percent) for the third and fourth years. Although the legislation was not declared in force, it had a significant impact on collective bargaining, effectively removing monetary issues from the bargaining framework and reducing the leverage of trade unions. In these circumstances, the Tribunal found that the law was in a broad mouth, in violation of Law s.2 (d). Moreover, the legislation was not spared as an appropriate restriction on freedom of association, in accordance with Part 1 of the Charter. In this context, the judge rejected the government`s argument that the stated objective of the legislation, namely deficit reduction, was urgent and meaningful. The government had exaggerated the level of the deficit and had also adopted measures such as tax cuts contrary to this objective. In addition, the legislation was also a disproportionate means of pursuing this objective, since collective bargaining could have resulted in savings. As McKelvey noted in his decision, the trial ended in February 2020 and, as a result, his judgment did not take into account the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, which occurred in March 2020 on public finances.
Shortly before their decision, the Manitoba government and the Manitoba Government and the General Employees Union (GSO) agreed that most Manitoba public servants will be required to take five days of unpaid leave in fiscal year 2020-21, in exchange for a guarantee that no regular or non-seasonal employees will be laid off during this period. Prior to the agreement with the MGEU, the government had warned that without unpaid leave, redundancies would be necessary. That is why I am not prepared to find a crime in paragraph 2 (d) because it has not been possible to hold prior consultations between the unions and the government. I`m glad… in Canada, there is no obligation to consult at the pre-judicial level. … Another maintenance can contribute to dysfunctions in the functioning of the legislative procedure. In the result, McKelvey stated that the Ss.9 to 15 of the PSSA were unconstitutional and had no effect or effect. She also explained that the government`s instruction at the University of Manitoba regarding a salary increase violated the faculty`s right to freedom of association. Manitoba`s fiscal position must be examined in this case to determine whether there is an urgent and essential objective.
It would be an unusual situation where economic and fiscal circumstances would not be a problem with any province or with the government of that country. In Manitoba, 55 per cent of the budget comes from public sector costs, which increase by $200 million each year, without greater compensation. The court heard expert evidence from two labour relations specialists. Dr Robert Hebdon, for trade unions, said that freely negotiated collective agreements are the best outcome because they foster a sense of ownership between the parties.