Manitoba Public Wage Freeze Legislation Struck Down as Unconstitutional

On June 11, 2020, Justice McKelvey of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that The Public Services Sustainability Act (Manitoba) (the “PSSA”) does not allow for a meaningful collective bargaining process and is therefore unconstitutional.

The PSSA was introduced as a Bill in 2017 and mandated annual wage increase limits for public sector employees. As part of that, new provincial public sector collective agreements were to have no wage increase for the first two years of operation, followed by maximum wage increases of 0.75% and 1.0% in the third and fourth years respectively.

While the PSSA was passed through the Legislature in 2017, the Manitoba government has yet to proclaim the PSSA into force and effect. Notwithstanding that, Justice McKelvey determined that the existence of the PSSA had a significant impact on public sector collective bargaining which limited the ability of unions to negotiate fair collective agreements for their members.

There is the possibility that the Manitoba government will appeal the ruling. In the interim, public sector employers seeking advice on how the Court of Queen’s Bench decision may impact collective bargaining should contact a member of our Winnipeg labour and employment group.