PSAC legal challenge against Conservative wage rollbacks ends

The Supreme Court of Canada has decided not to hear PSAC’s legal challenge to the previous Conservative government’s budget bill that rolled back negotiated wage increases for federal public service workers.

The union argued that the legislation violated the Charter rights of PSAC members under section 2(d) “freedom of association”.

“We are surprised the Supreme Court has chosen not to hear our case as it is in direct contradiction to a recent ruling on collective bargaining rights,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “Bill C-10 significantly restricted our members’ bargaining rights. Yet, in November 2016, the Court ruled against the British Columbia government for restricting the bargaining rights of provincial teachers.” The BC government had removed negotiated clauses from the teachers’ collective agreement and passed a law prohibiting the B.C. Teachers’ Federation from negotiating them. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that the government’s legislation was unconstitutional because it violated the Charter’s “freedom of association” clause.

PSAC’s legal battle started in 2009

PSAC filed an appeal in the Ontario Superior Court in 2009 after Bill C-10, the Conservatives Expenditure Restraint Act, had been passed. The Act set a maximum for pay increases for four years between 2006 and 2011 and rolled-back any negotiated increases that exceeded the maximum. The Act affected thousands of PSAC members in several bargaining units, including the Canada Revenue Agency.

In 2014, the Ontario Superior Court ruled the legislation did not breach the Charter. In 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the Superior Court decision. PSAC then applied for leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.