Education International
Education International

Canada: Senate puts anti-trade union Bill C-377 on hold

published 28 June 2013 updated 8 July 2013

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), one of EI’s national affiliates, has welcomed the fact that the Conservative-dominated Senate has blocked Bill C-377. This Bill aimed to force unions to disclose all payments worth C$5,000 or more being made to outside groups or individuals. It also sought to force unions to disclose the names and salaries of all employees who are paid more than C$100,000.

“Many thanks to all our member organisations that have lobbied Senators and contacted their elected officials,” said CTF Secretary General and EI Executive Board member Calvin Fraser. “Your voices were heard. However the battle is far from over. The amended Bill C-377 will return to the House of Commons for continuing debate in the fall.  Please keep the pressure up this summer on Conservative MPs.”

Reporting thresholds raised

On 26 June, the Conservative-dominated Senate broke ranks with the government to block a union-disclosure bill from becoming law. It also voted to send the amended bill back to the House of Commons.

The adopted Segal amendment raised the threshold for disclosing union salaries in the bill from C$100,000 to C$444,661. It also raises the reporting threshold for payments to C$150,000 from C$5,000 and exempts union locals and unions with fewer than 50,000 members.

After the vote, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said it continues to support the principles of the bill.

Supporters of the bill argue that because union dues are tax deductible, unions should have to disclose their spending to the public, while unions stress that they already disclose spending to their own members and that additional reporting would amount to expensive and needless red tape.

Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti also indicated that he would have preferred to see the bill defeated outright, saying he hopes that Conservative MPs will take the summer to reconsider their support for the bill.

EI: No scapegoating of unions

“EI believes this Senate’s move is a step in the right direction,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “We could never tolerate unions being used as scapegoats in times of economic and financial crisis, and unjustified, needless financial reporting being imposed on them. We urge our Canadian colleagues to exert relentless pressure on policymakers over the period prior to the examination of the Bill by the House of Commons.”