The federal Conservative government continues to attack the rights of Canadians with its latest budget implementation Bill C-59.
Division 20 of Bill C-59 proposes to give the federal government the authority to unilaterally change the sick leave provisions of PSAC’s Treasury Board collective agreements, and impose a short term and long term disability plan, at any time the government chooses.
This is a violation of our Charter right to collective bargaining—a right that has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. Bill C-59 would also override the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
The Parliamentary Budget Office and Statistics Canada have disproven all claims by the Conservative government that sick leave is abused or is too costly. The only reason the Conservative government has introduced Division 20 of Bill C-59 is that it has not been able to get its way through the bargaining process. It is a bully tactic that is profoundly undemocratic.
Our PSAC bargaining teams made the decision to postpone bargaining with Treasury Board scheduled for this week, while we evaluate the full implications of Bill C-59 and plan our next steps.
It is important that all members of the PSAC understand that Bill C-59 goes well beyond an attack on the sick leave provisions of federal public service employees. It is an attack on the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
But it is also important to understand that it is not a done deal. Bill C-59 is not yet law and we can work to ensure that it does not become law. Even if it is passed, we can pressure the President of Treasury Board not to use the authority that the Bill gives him to undermine our rights.
I urge all members to contact their Member of Parliament (who will be back in their constituency offices the week of May 18-22), and insist that the Government of Canada respects our constitutional rights and the collective bargaining process.
Also, please sign up for the PSAC e-newsletter (www.psacunion.ca) to stay informed of all developments and actions related to this attack on our Charter rights.
PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President – Ontario