Supreme Court of Canada Extends Protection to Collective Bargaining & Strikes - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-10-13
Supreme Court of Canada Extends Protection to Collective Bargaining & Strikes - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Political science Court system World
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1351 words
12 min read

To what degree has the Supreme Court of Canada extended Charter protection to collective bargaining and strikes?

The historic judgment released on January 30, 2015, by the Canadian Supreme Court asserted that an individual's right to strike is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights also grants individuals the freedom of association that aligns well with the power to strike. According to the court resolution, the right to strike is an equally vital collective negotiating apparatus within the labor department and relations. According to Fudge and Jensen (2016), Canadians' right to strike is not entirely a derivative of mass joint brokering but somewhat an essential constituent of the constitutional right.

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The decision is vital not only for the sake of the 2015 case but also for explaining what freedom of association as inscribed in section 2 (d) of the Canadian Charter means (Spiro, 2014). It tells the magnitude to which the supreme court has stretched charter protection towards strikes and collective bargaining. Through the decision, the supreme court helped indicate the steady extension of the legal scope for individual and labor rights (Spiro, 2014). It has also helped ensure that workplace justice is upheld and the rights of workers sheltered from their employers by their respective labor unions and the Canadian constitution. Other factors that have helped modify the Charter protection jurisprudence relating to strikes and labor rights were the expansive interpretation of the freedom of association (Fudge & Jensen, 2016).

Additionally, some of the Canadian local governments had eliminated collective bargaining while repealing various labor laws without incorporating the trade unions' voices during the process (Spiro, 2014). Regarding the 2015 case, the supreme court extended the charter protection towards collective bargaining and strikes aiming to protect the workers from oppressive work environments fully. It also extended the Charter protection to define the rules employers must adhere to in protecting their employees from exploitation.

How has the Supreme Court of Canada opened the door to minority unionism? And how might minority unionism operate alongside the Wagner model?

Over the past years, the Canadian Supreme Court has opened the door to minority unionism enabling workers from various races and nationalities to form unions protected by the Canadian protective labor laws. The rights were fashioned in a legal decision referred to as the Health service decision and later revised under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Godard, 2012). The decisions extended and helped protect workers' rights and freedom of association. One significant outcome of the famous Fraser v. Ontario (2011) Case was that the Canadian government constructed a useful labor relations model where employees/ workers apply their rights and sovereignty of association other than by exclusive/ majority representation (The Wagner Act Model). According to the decisions, minority representation is more consistent and relates to the Canadian Charter of Freedoms and Rights.

The Canadian government has also ensured that there are much-upgraded labor laws and protection polities minus much constitutional fortification for minority unionism. It is presumed that when a majority union breeds from a minority union, the movement will grow stronger compared to the old-fashioned majority unions (Godard, 2012). Through the supreme court legal decision, the Canadian government decided that all workers in the country have the freedom to exercise their constitutional freedom and rights to association and not conform to the Wagner Act Unionism. However, most of the restrictions and particulars of minority unionism are not exclusively clearer. Citing the recent supreme court cases shows that minority unionism has been constitutionally permissible (Godard, 2012; Chaykowski, 2011). The proponent of minority unionism has secured the aspect in two significant ways. The first is the formulation of new acts and laws that have helped embrace minority unionism. The second is the role the Canadian Supreme court has taken to strike down the current labor laws and relations that make minority unionism be made an existing alternative. The two models are constant with the other court decisions which have unlocked doors for minority unionism. The Canadian labor and trade unions are often affected, according to Chaykowski (2011), and structured labor needs to tread prudently.

The Wagner Act Model was introduced to Canada around 1944, along with the execution of the PC1003 (an executive order that was approved by the Canadian federal government during the second world war). The model is entirely legislated and does not reference labor relation classifications that have to be in position. According to Chaykowski (2011), the Wagner model characterized a vital progression that welcomed a newer labor relation act period that defined the conduct of labor-management and associations (Chaykowski, 2011, p. 291). The model also welcomed the inclusion of minority populations in the larger Canada since they formed a formidable portion of the country's working class. Additionally, the Supreme Court justices during the Fraser v. Ontario does not oppose the Wagner Act Model. It mostly contests the model's position as the sole model of labor relations and unionism.

More space has been unlocked for the majority or nonexclusive unionism representations. Embracing minority unionism is significant at the same time, problematic according to the Wagner Act Model. Minority unionism, today makes a substantial model in western industrial societies. All the most significant foundations making up the Wagner Act Model (generally the legislative structure that guides Canadas private workers) might outspread its reach to the minority unions/ workers presently not protected (Godard, 2012). Similarly, in case the Canadian Supreme Court majors on the global labor doctrines, most scholars and labor relation specialists believe that the Fraser judgment could help transfigure the Canadian labor laws.

How might minority unionism negatively affect Canadian workers and unions?

Minority unionism is also referred to as members-only unionism. It possesses a representation for unions of trade whereby local unions provide representation and organization of workers voluntarily. As a model, minority unionism is more than the workforce's organization in an employment premise. Most of the focus is on those workers that pay their dues (volunteers). Minority unions differ from majority unions in various ways. Members-only unions do not possess and dictate bragging rights of bargaining as the majority unions do. Instead, their organization is done privately by the management based on the filed grievances by members.

Members-only unionism has several effects on Canadian workers and unions, both positive and negative. Even though minority unionism provides some privileges to members and organizers during operation, the model may affect businesses by hindering the recognition of minority union (a collective agent that provides bargain for workers with membership). Another adverse effect of the minority unionism is the unlikeliness of strikes and pickets. The lack of strikes and pickets for the members-only unions mean that members-filed grievances to be answered fully depend on the management's discretion and timing. Evident in the minority unionism is advanced labor law in the absence of constitutional protection. Braley-Rattai (2013, p. 329) affirms that all tasks to result in majority unions all lie in the followers of minority unionism. The main reason is that volunteer workers will recognize the underlying values.

According to Walchuk (2016), lack of exclusivity and majoritarianism is considered a significant pitfall of minority unionism in Canada. Many business organizations suffer as a result of this, though, in some organizations, workers are well represented with management. The management itself suffers from a lack of legal obligation to recognize such dealings. Minority unionism works for some organizations, but it is fair to say that it cannot be applied in all business organizations.


Braley-Rattai, A. (2013). Harnessing the possibilities of minority unionism in canada. Labor Studies Journal, 38(4), 321–340.

Chaykowski, R. P. (2011). Canadian labor policy in the aftermath of Fraser. Canadian Lab. & Emp. LJ, 16, 291.

Fudge, J., & Jensen, H. (2016). The right to strike: The Supreme Court of Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Arc of Workplace Justice. King's Law Journal, 27(1), 89–109.

Godard, J. (2012). Labour law and union recognition in Canada: A historical-institutionalist perspective. Queen's LJ, 38, 391.

Spiro, P. (2014, February 25). Is the right to strike protected by the charter? A Review of R v Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. TheCourt.Ca. Retrieved from

Walchuk, B. (2016). The pitfalls of embracing minority unionism. SAGE Open, 6(3), 215824401666731.

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