Unions Denied Leave to Supreme Court

Authors: Leah Schatz, Q.C., Brent Matkowski

This post is further to our previous blog regarding an application by Saskatchewan health-care unions for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

On June 1, 2017 the Supreme Court of Canada denied an Application for Leave to appeal a decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal that judicially reviewed a decision of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board concerning the issue of employer communications.

The original application before the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board concerned whether the Saskatchewan Health Regions and the Saskatchewan Organization of Health Organizations (the “Employers”) violated the employer communications provisions of the Trade Union Act (the “Act”) during the 2008 round of collective bargaining.

The health-care unions alleged that, among other things, the Employers violated the Act as a result of an active communications campaign involving press releases and promotional materials directed at the public and employees.

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board had previously determined that – subject to some communications that were in violation of the employer communications provisions – the majority of the employer communications had not violated the Act. This component of the Board’s decision was found unreasonable by the Court of Queen’s Bench, but was subsequently found reasonable by the Court of Appeal upon appeal. The health-care unions then unsuccessfully sought leave to appeal the decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Had the Application for Leave been successful, the Supreme Court of Canada would have examined the reasonableness of the Board’s decision that the majority of the Employer’s communications did not violate the Act and amendments made by the Saskatchewan Legislatively Assembly in 2008 that allowed employers to communicate facts and opinions to employees.

As a result of the denied Application for Leave, the unions have exhausted their right of appeal on the Board’s interpretation and application of the employer communication provisions of the Act in the 2008 round of collective bargaining.

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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.