Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the effectiveness of section 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code regarding replacement workers has been continually reviewed by the government.
In addition, the replacement worker issue was recently considered in Peter Annis’ 2008 independent report to the Minister of Labour, entitled “Work Stoppages in the Federal Private Sector: Innovative Solutions”. Mr. Annis found that there is no conclusive evidence that banning replacement workers or modifying section 94(2.1) would lead to a decrease in the incidence or duration of work stoppages.
Finally, the government tracks the number of complaints filed with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, CIRB, alleging a violation of section 94(2.1). Since the provision was enacted in 1999, only 23 complaints have been filed alleging unfair use of replacement workers. Of these, 18 were eventually withdrawn by the union, four were dismissed and one is pending. These statistics suggest that the use of replacement workers to undermine a union’ bargaining ability is not a pressing problem in the federal jurisdiction.
In response to (b), to date, the use of replacement workers has not been prohibited under section 94(2.1). It only prohibits the use of replacement workers where their presence in the workplace is intended to undermine a union’s representational capacity.
In response to (c), only two provinces have labour legislation which restricts the right of employers to use the services of replacement workers during work stoppages. Such restrictions have been in force in Quebec since 1977 and in British Columbia since 1993. While Ontario enacted similar provisions in 1993, they were repealed in 1995.
Despite this kind of legislation, a number of complaints concerning the use of replacement workers during work stoppages are filed each year in both Quebec and British Columbia. In 2007-08, 25 complaints were filed in each province respectively. Of the 25 complaints filed in Quebec, 10 were upheld by the provincial labour board. In British Columbia, 5 of the 25 complaints were upheld.
Peter Annis’ 2008 independent report to the Minister of Labour, “Work Stoppages in the Federal Private Sector: Innovative Solutions”, found that there is no conclusive evidence that banning replacement workers would lead to a decrease in the incidence and duration of work stoppages.
In response to (d), the code does not deal with “essential services”; rather, it includes a requirement, under section 87.4, that, in the event of a work stoppage, goods and services continue to be supplied to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious threat to public safety or health. Currently, if the parties cannot reach an agreement on maintenance of activities, the Canada Industrial Relations Board, CIRB, will decide what services must be maintained.
There have been no consultations on what services would need to be maintained in the event of a labour dispute specifically in the context of a replacement worker ban.
In response to (e), the government does not intend to make any changes to the labour relations provisions of the Canada Labour Code without broad agreement among stakeholders.
In response to (f), no. Data suggests that there is no significant difference in the number or duration of work stoppages whether or not there is a replacement worker ban in place. For the period 2006 to 2008, data indicates that the average duration of a work stoppage in Quebec was 52 days and in British Columbia 55.4 days, while in the federal jurisdiction, the average duration of a work stoppage was 49.2 days.