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Canada: Industrial relations

Original/updating authors: Nafisah Chowdhury, Jenifer Gentle, Andrea Johnson, Ashley Mitchell, Gordon Nekolaichuk, David Tsai and Zeinab Yousif, Miller Thomson

Consultant editor: Margaret Gavins, McCarthy Tétrault

Summary

  • The term "industrial relations" or "labour relations" is generally used to refer to an employment relationship in which an employee is represented by a trade union. (See General)
  • Employees in all jurisdictions have a statutory right to become a member of a trade union and to participate in its lawful activities (in the same way, employers have a right to join an employers' organisation). (See Trade unions)
  • A union that has a significant number of members among a group of employees may apply to the relevant labour board for the right to be statutorily recognised as the bargaining representative of that group, and such recognition is referred to as "certification". (See Trade union recognition)
  • When a trade union is certified, the parties are obliged by statute to bargain collectively in good faith and to make every reasonable effort to conclude a collective agreement. (See Collective bargaining and agreements)
  • In unionised workplaces covered by a collective agreement, certain information obligations in relation to trade unions and employees are placed on employers by the labour codes of the various jurisdictions, "arbitral jurisprudence" and collective agreements. (See Informing and consulting employees - general)
  • In the event of a group termination, employers must generally give the employees affected minimum notice of termination that is longer than the statutory notice that applies to individual terminations. (See Informing and consulting prior to redundancies)
  • With regard to unionised workplaces, collective agreements commonly provide for the employer to provide prior information to the trade union on any transfer of ownership that might affect the union's representation rights. (See Informing and consulting prior to transfers)
  • Industrial action is permitted only where a collective agreement has expired, or where no collective agreement previously applied. (See Industrial action and picketing)