Manitoba Introduces Bill 45: The Public Schools Amendment and Manitoba Teachers’ Society Amendment Act

Authors: Kristin Gibson, Davis Hirsch, Dany Théberge

On November 2, 2020, the Manitoba government announced that it would be introducing Bill 45: The Public Schools Amendment and Manitoba Teachers’ Society Amendment Act.

Broadly speaking, the passage of Bill 45 would establish centralized collective bargaining for all school divisions/districts and public school teachers in Manitoba, with the exception of Manitoba’s francophone school division, la Division scolaire franco-manitobaine (“DSFM”).

This blog provides a summary of the proposed changes.

  1. Currently, every school division/district in Manitoba is able to collectively bargain with a unit of public school teachers consisting only of teachers in its division/district. Bill 45 would establish an employers organization with the exclusive jurisdiction to collectively bargain on behalf of every school division and school district in the province. The employers association would bargain with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, unless another teachers’ bargaining agent is certified, which would have exclusive jurisdiction to act as the bargaining agent for every public school teacher in the province. This centralized collective bargaining would result in one collective agreement binding on all school divisions/districts and public school teachers in Manitoba.
  2. In the event Bill 45 comes into force, any collective bargaining agreement between a school division/district and a unit of teachers that is already in effect at that time would remain in effect until its originally established expiry date. As such, the centralized collective agreement between the employers organization and the teachers’ bargaining agent would only take effect in respect of that school division/district and unit of teachers when their previous collective agreement expires.
  3. Bill 45 requires that the Minister of Education appoint a bargaining representative to bargain for the employers organization, though the Minister could not appoint an employer representative other than the Manitoba School Boards Association without first consulting with the Manitoba School Boards Association.
  4. Bill 45 provides that if voting by the employers organization’s bargaining representative is required in the context of collective bargaining, the vote must be decided by a majority of the members of the employers organization, with each member’s vote weighted to reasonably reflect the number of teachers in each member school division or school district.
  5. Bill 45 also requires that the Manitoba Teachers’ Society establish a negotiating committee to carry out its duties and powers under The Public Schools Act.
  6. In respect of arbitrations relating to the proper interpretation of a collective agreement, Bill 45 would require arbitrators to take into consideration: 1) the ability of the school division or school district, in light of its financial situation, to pay any award that the arbitrator might make; and 2) the economic situation in Manitoba. Arbitrators would also be required to specifically state in their reasons how they applied the above noted considerations.

The above proposed amendments are before the Manitoba Legislature. Bill 45 is not yet passed or in force, and MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor its status. Employers considering the potential impact of The Public Schools Amendment and Manitoba Teachers’ Society Amendment Act should contact a member of our labour and employment team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.