Senate passes anti-scab legislation

Legislation will take effect 1 year after it receives royal assent

Senate passes anti-scab legislation

Canada’s “anti-scab workers” legislation is one step away from officially becoming a law after the Senate passed the bill.

Bill C-58 – An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations, 2012 – is now awaiting royal assent. 

The bill aims to ban the use of replacement workers if there’s a strike in a federally regulated workplace.

“This is a watershed moment for Canadian workers as after more than a century of struggle legislation will finally prevent the use of scabs in federally governed workplaces,” said Lana Payne, Unifor national president. “Now Unifor will continue the fight to enact strong and meaningful anti-scab legislation in every province and territory to ensure that the bargaining power of all workers across the country is protected.”

The bill sets a fine of up to $100,000 a day for employers who have replaced striking workers, according to the National Post.

The legislation was first introduced on Nov. 9, 2023. It passed second reading with all-party support, noted the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party (NSNDP). 

Late in May, Bill C-58 unanimously passed through the House of Commons.

Why would it take a year for the legislation to take effect?

“While we believe there was room for further improvement to Bill C-58, especially the twelve-month period until anti-scab legislation actually comes into effect, today is a victory and it’s one we are going to protect,” said Unifor’s Payne. “The anti-scab legislation received all party support and we fully expect that support to continue as it rolls out.”

The legislation will take effect one year after it receives royal assent.

Seamus O'Regan, minister of labour, explained the delay by saying that labour negotiators need time to prepare for the law to be implemented, according to a CP report published on CTV News.

“We hope that not only will we make sure this is banned at the federal level, but we can inspire provinces and territories to put in place similar legislation so that we can, once and for all, ban scab workers at every level across this country,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh previously said, according to a Global News report.

“That’s our ultimate goal.”

In March, the NSNDP tabled legislation to ban the use of scab workers in Nova Scotia during a legal workers’ strike or lockout.

Meanwhile, British Columbia and Quebec already have similar legislation that bans the use of scabs during a strike.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has expressed their opposition to the anti-scab legislation.

“This will exacerbate our productivity problem, further erode our global reputation, and keep us from simply getting things done,” Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the group, said after the legislation passed through the House of Commons.

“If this bill becomes law, the next time a strike shuts down rail or air travel, cell service or credit card payments, or port operations that keep products on shelves and fresh produce in grocery stores, the costs to all Canadians will be higher – all because of the politicians’ decision to put politics ahead of Canadians’ best interests.”

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