The deadline for Saskatchewan labor groups to submit input toward the province’s labor review process has passed but this hasn’t stopped the Opposition from launching a consultation tour as part of its submission.
In early May, the government launched a public consultation process as it tries to amalgamate 15 pieces of legislation into one act. As part of the consultation, a number of questions were asked to the public about possible changes to labor laws.
“You could call our written submission to the Minister of Labor a down payment,” says NDP labor critic David Forbes, who called the labor process both faulty and inadequate.
“The process by which the SaskParty plans to rewrite 100 years of work laws is abysmally incomplete. To provide real feedback on what employers and working women and men need, we’re going to hold the open and thorough consultations that the Sask. Party refused to hold.”
Some examples of the topics under consideration for the new legislation are: essential services legislation, union financial disclosure, notice requirements, collection of employees’ wages after business closure, variable hours of work to meet needs of both employers and employees, and indexation of the minimum wage.
Nine round-table open consultations, including one in Yorkton Sept. 17, will be held throughout the province after which Forbes will provide a full report to the SaskParty government.
The SaskParty’s consultation has only been 90 days long. However, the Ministry of Labor has received more than 900 submissions province-wide.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) recently released a statement urging the government to show moderation and increase opportunities for public participation before overhauling the province’s labor laws which are expected this fall.
“All Saskatchewan workers, whether they belong to a union or not, will be impacted by changes to labor laws and they deserve much more input before the government makes any changes,” says CUPE Saskatchewan president Tom Graham.
“The government’s consultation paper asks if there are rights and protections we want to give up. Instead, we should be talking about how to make life better for Saskatchewan workers with improvements, not takeaways. Now is no time to make rushed decisions.”
The Saskatchewan Federation of Labor (SFL) made its official submission to the Ministry of Labor Relations and Workplace Safety on deadline day. Flaws with the current process for consultation and the relationship between Charter rights and the rights of working people headlined the submission.
“Though we have a number of objections to the way the government has decided to proceed with the current review of laws for working people in our province we have made a submission to the government that vigorously defends the Charter rights of Saskatchewan people,” explains SFL president Larry Hubich.
“The Canadian constitution is the highest law in the land and the government must be prepared to put fundamental rights before ideology and before its own distrust of working people’s organizations.”
The SFL submission also included a detailed criticism of the review process noting 90 days is possibly the shortest time period consultations on major legislative changes have been conducted in Canada.
“Above all, what working people hope for from their government is fairness,” says Hubich.
“Though we certainly have reservations about how the government has structured its consultation, we hope that the final result will be fair to the working people of Saskatchewan.”