Keep hands off replacement workers, Oakville Chamber tells Ottawa


Published April 11, 2023 at 1:00 pm


The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is expressing its concern over the government’s proposed legislation on prohibiting replacement workers in federally regulated industries saying it could “potentially add” labour strife to key sectors of the economy.

In a penned piece by Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, she explains that the proposed anti-replacement worker legislation raises serious concerns for the business community.

“Legislation that could further disrupt or delay supply chain processes will only raise costs more, which in turn will be passed down to the consumer,” Lyons wrote on the Oakville Chamber website.

“Canada’s reputation as a destination of choice for doing business relies on a resilient and reliable system. We cannot afford to introduce such legislation at this time.”

Lyons said the legislation introduced by the federal government changes the balance of power within the labour relations system.

“Potentially leading to labour strife within key sectors of our economy,” she said. “Removing the use of replacement workers threatens the collective bargaining process and may result in longer strike action and significant damage to the economy, and our reputation as a reliable place to do business.”

In early February, the Canadian government announced it is committed to introducing legislation by the end of this year (2023) to prohibit the use of replacement workers in federally regulated sectors.

The aim, says the government, is to ensure that all workers in federally regulated sectors continue to benefit from a meaningful right to strike when a union employer in a federally regulated industry has locked out employees or is in a strike.

The Government says it has heard that this right is undermined when an employer brings in replacement workers to keep the business going while workers are on strike or locked out.

But Lyons maintains that with the current labour system replacement workers allow organizations in sectors such as trucking, rail, ports, telecom and air to provide critical services to Canadians.

She points to when the pandemic hit and how the disruption in the supply chain became a source of frustration for consumers across the country.

“The efficient movement of goods in supply chain sectors such as trucking, rail, ports, telecom, are critical to our country’s economic growth,” she said.

To help address these issues, Lyons said the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Chambers of Commerce in Milton, Mississauga and Brampton, founded the Halton Peel Supply Chain Council.

She noted how leading transportation and logistics companies have joined the Council to focus on the advancement of the supply chain through resources from collaboration and information sharing to technology and talent recruitment.

The Council’s 72 members meet quarterly to provide policy direction and recommendations to all levels of government on directives that will support the supply chain and economic growth.

“The Canadian Chamber encouraged the government to engage in meaningful consultations that will allow for the private sector, unions and government to create collaborative solutions to avoid disrupting the supply chain,” said Lyons.

The government, she wrote, should consider providing the authority to the Minister of Labour, or the Federal Cabinet, to compel binding arbitration for the resolution of a labour dispute — prior to a work stoppage – in sectors that are essential to Canada’s supply chains, such as railways and ports.

“This change would help Canada’s supply chains avoid costly disruptions impacting the economy,” said Lyons.

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