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Labor Law, Employment Law, Inequality, Collective Bargaining, Unions, Work Councils


Labour legislation regulating Canada’s private sector has incorporated forms of broader-based or sectoral certification and bargaining (BBB) in varying degrees for decades, particularly in British Columbia and Quebec. However, BBB had not been the subject of significant post-war labour law reform discussion until the 1990s. This decade saw a wave of interest in introducing BBB arise across several jurisdictions. Originating in Ontario in the late 1980s, it spread to British Columbia as a key part of labour law reform discussions in the early and late 1990s and became a minor issue in the federal labour law reform review process later that decade. In none of these instances were BBB proposals or recommendations adopted. Since then, and until the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR) of Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (OLRA) and Employment Standards Act (ESA) commenced in 2015, private sector BBB had not been an important reform issue. BBB gained significant attention in the CWR process but was less prominent in the subsequent labour law reform processes undertaken in Alberta and British Columbia. None of these reviews have resulted in substantial BBB amendments to the labour legislation.

This article traces the history of BBB as an issue in labour law reform exercises across jurisdictions in English Canada from the late 1980s to early 2019, examining the context in which these issues arose, identifying key BBB proposals, and challenges to these proposals. It concludes with an analysis of the failure of efforts to incorporate BBB proposals into labour legislation, and an assessment of the key challenges to adopting significant BBB reforms in the future.


Forthcoming in (2020) Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 85