As Christina Catenacci recently blogged, my home Province of Nova Scotia has taken steps to create a unified labour board.
While the establishment of the Labour Board itself has not been the subject of much debate, the Bill that introduced it did create some controversy as it also introduced changes to our Trade Union Act. In particular, it created a preamble for the Act, altered successor rights provisions for the public service with regard to contracting out, and also mandated the creation of a Labour Management Review Committee.
After a heated last minute debate, it appears that the preamble will stay. However, the successor provision was modified. While collective agreements will still be applied to any work contracted out of the public service that is an attempt to avoid obligations under a collective agreement, it was clarified that successor right provisions could not be applied to any other situation where a public service employer contracts out work.
Further, the Labour Management Review Committee provisions were amended to require that the committee does consult with non-unionized employers and employees on certification and other labour relations issues. The concern had been that the non-union sector would not be consulted at all.
However, the most lasting change will be the creation of the “Superboard”. The Superboard will replace six existing boards as follows:
- The Labour Relations Board and Construction Industry Panel
- The Civil Service Employee Relations Board
- The Highway Workers’ Employee Relations Board
- The Correctional Facilities Employee Relations Board
- The Labour Standards Tribunal
- The Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel
This amalgamation will be effected in three phases. During the first phase, Nova Scotia’s labour relations boards will be consolidated under the new Labour Relations and Employment Board. During the second phase, the Labour Standards Tribunal and Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel will be given the discretion to use sole adjudication, rather than always having a full panel adjudicate matters. Finally, during the third phase, the Labour Standards Tribunal and Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel will be consolidated under the Labour Relations and Employment Board.
One point of interest to me is that in examining other Provinces that have created Superboards, each Province appears to have made its own decisions regarding jurisdiction. So, for example, in New Brunswick, the following Acts are incorporated:
- Industrial Relations Act
- Public Service Labour Relations Act
- Employment Standards Act
- Pension Benefits Act
- Human Rights Act
- Fisheries Bargaining Act
- Essential Services and Nursing Home Act
- Public Interest Disclosure Act
- Pay Equity Act
Significantly, the Nova Scotia board does not have any authority to deal with pension or human rights issues as they do in New Brunswick. But the New Brunswick board does not have any authority to deal with workplace health and safety.
By further contrast, the consolidated board in Manitoba deals with the following Acts:
- Labour Relations Act
- Employment Standards Code
- Workplace Safety and Health Act
- Public Schools Act
- Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower) Act
- Construction Industry Wages Act
- Apprenticeship and Certification Act
- Remembrance Day Act
- Pay Equity Act
- Essential Services Act
- Elections Act
- Victims Bill of Right Worker Recruitment and Protection Act
Similarly to Nova Scotia, the Manitoba board does not appear to have the authority to deal with human rights issues, although it does have the authority to deal with Pay Equity Act. Another significant difference from both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is that the Manitoba board can deal with the Elections Act, Victims Bill of Rights Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act.
I wonder what the relative experience of HR professionals in the varying Provinces have been with the Superboards and whether these inclusions and exclusions create any significant difference between the jurisdictions.
Cox & Palmer
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