73:3 (2018) Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations 603-616.
Freedom of Association; Constitutional Labour Rights; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Collective Bargaining; Supreme Court of Canada
Constitutional labour rights in Canada now protect workers’ freedom to organize and bargain collectively and to strike. These associational freedoms are especially important for public sector workers, the most frequent targets of legislation limiting their freedoms. However, the Supreme Court of Canada judgments recognizing these rights and freedoms have also introduced important ambiguities about their foundation, scope and level of protection. This brief comment locates these ambiguities in the context of Canada’s political economy and industrial relations regime, which are beset by contradiction and conflict. It then explores the origins and development of the jurisprudential ambiguities in constitutional labour rights through a survey of recent Supreme Court of Canada’s labour rights judgments, including most recently British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and British Columbia (2016).
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