In a historic decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the right to strike is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ruling came from a case brought by unions in Saskatchewan, who challenged a 2008 provincial law which limited the right to strike by public sector workers.
“This decision confirms what we have always believed: The right to strike is a basic, Charter right that is vital to a system of fair collective bargaining,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “When the Liberals brought in Bill 115 to strip school board workers of their right to strike, we told them it was unconstitutional. We filed a legal challenge. This ruling sends a clear message – you can’t legislate away workers’ fundamental rights and when unions fight these laws, we can win.”
In a 5-2 ruling, the Supreme Court found Saskatchewan’s 2008 “Public Service Essential Services Act,” put unjust limits on which public-sector workers could strike in that province, violating workers’ Charter right to freedom of association. It is an important and far-reaching victory for workers in Canada.
The ruling closely follows on another decision by the Supreme Court just a few weeks earlier, that reaffirmed workers’ right to organize unions. Together, with these decisions, the Court has once again recognized that workers’ collective rights are basic human rights that must be respected by government.