Saskatchewan stands at the precipice of labour instability with the introduction of a sweeping and rushed overhaul of the province’s labour laws in Bill 85 – the new Saskatchewan Employment Act.
Bill 85 combines 12 previous workplace-related laws. The Act repeals nearly 1,000 pages of current provincial legislation, and consolidates it into 184. In total, 33 pieces of legislation have been repealed or amended. Work on the act is not yet complete, leaving many unknowns and much to be done to get Bill 85 to a place where it works for everyone.
An advisory committee, comprising both business and organized labour representatives, was established by Minister Don Morgan to provide input on the changes being contemplated. This committee reached relative consensus on most issues relating to the changes. This consensus is not reflected in Bill 85.
Modernization of laws requires thoughtful and inclusive review. That takes time. There is no harm in taking the time needed for review and reflection, but there is a worrying potential for real damage if passage of this new legislation is rushed.
We are part of the “Saskatchewan advantage,” the biggest economic boom in our province’s history. Saskatchewan has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and more people are moving to our province than ever before. All of this has been achieved under our current labour legislation. Clearly, there is no crisis requiring a hasty fix so let’s take the time to get it right and not rush to pass Bill 85 in the spring 2013 sitting of the Legislature.
I urge you to contact the Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, to ask for time to review and address the concerns you have with the legislation as it stands today. After all, if we take the time we need now to get this right, we will save time and cost in the future.
For more information, check out www.fairwork.ca.
General Secretary, Grain and General Services Union (ILWU Canada)
Member of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Saskatchewan Employment Act