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New law to restore public service labour relations regime

Bill C-62 was adopted in the Senate and has received Royal Assent.

Legislation that gives federal public service unions back the ability to negotiate sick leave and takes away the Government’s power to unilaterally impose any regime it sees fit has been adopted in the Senate.

Bill C-62 will restore a previous public service labour relations regime, including matters related to essential services, the resolution of collective bargaining disputes, and the right of bargaining agents to negotiate terms and conditions of employment related to disability matters.

“Under Bill C-62, employers will no longer have the exclusive right to determine what is considered an essential service necessary to the safety and security of the public or to designate the positions necessary to provide these services,” said Sen. Diane Bellemare, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

“Employers will work with bargaining agents to determine which positions are necessary to provide essential services and will sign essential services agreements with them, as was the case before the passage of the bills inserted into the budget implementation bills.”

Bill C-62 also:

  • Restores the notice-to-bargain period from 12 months to 4 months;
  • Allows bargaining agents to choose their preferred dispute resolution process in the event of an impasse during bargaining; and
  • Restores flexibility for arbitration boards and Public Interest Commissions, removing the requirement that more weight be given to the factors of recruitment, retention and Canada’s fiscal circumstances than to other factors.

Debate in the Senate Chamber, and in committee, acknowledged that more work needs to be done to bring the sick leave system for the public service into the 21st century. A modern regime will focus on wellness and take into greater account problems like mental health issues and other potentially chronic illnesses. With the passage of C-62, however, such a regime will be determined by collaboration and negotiation between employees, their unions, and the federal public service.

The bill received Royal Assent on November 26.

New law to restore public service labour relations regime