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The Conservative government’s attack on unions an affront to fairness

The Canadian Media Guild is disappointed but not surprised at the passage of Bill C-377, the anti-union legislation that will force unions to provide information not required of any other organization in the country. Conservative MPs voted the bill into law by a vote of 147 to 135.

As a result, the government will pay people to collect, process and audit financial reports from the 25,000 labour organizations in Canada; unions will have to hire people to prepare the reports; and employers will get extremely detailed information about unions, including what resources are devoted to defending collective agreements and organizing new members.

“For months now, the Canadian Media Guild, CWA Canada Director Martin O’Hanlon, as well as other union leaders across the country have pointed to the hypocrisy and unfairness of the private member’s bill, encouraging our members as well as all Canadians to challenge this attack on workers’ right to organize ourselves,” said CMG president Carmel Smyth

And it’s not just unions that are troubled by the flawed bill. The Privacy Commissioner indicated that the bill goes too far, while the Canadian Bar Association, in a letter to the Commons Committee on Finance, said “The bill contains a significant number of privacy concerns and lacks the appropriate balance between legitimate public goals and respect for privacy interests protected by law.”

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has questioned the government’s cost estimates for the bill. Similar but less onerous legislation in the U.S. cost $41.3 million in 2012.

“The bill makes no sense, whether you’re looking at its intent, what it costs to implement, or frankly the numerous issues it raises in terms of the ability of this Conservative government to lead on behalf of all Canadians,” says O’Hanlon.

Merit Shop Contractors, an organization representing non-union construction companies has applauded the private member’s bill, but oppositions parties and five conservative MPs voted against it.

“Unions are already accountable to our members on all financial matters. This is why we plan to challenge this in court,” O’Hanlon said.


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