Labour relations laws restrict worker choice

Fraser Institute study says they discourage investment and job growth.

August 28, 2014   by PLANT STAFF

VANCOUVER — The Fraser Institute is calling Canada’s labour relations laws biased in a new study that compares Canada to the US.

Canada’s biased labour relations laws are failing workers, restricting their choices, and potentially stunting job growth and investment, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute.

Labour Relations Laws in Canada and the US looks at the private sector for the 10 Canadian provinces, the federal government and the 50 US states and measures the extent to which jurisdictions achieve balance in their labour relations laws.

The public policy think-tank with offices across Canada says Canada lags US states in terms of providing workers with what it describes as “choices and opportunities that come from balanced, neutral labour relations laws.”


The study’s Index of Labour Relations Laws shows Alberta, with a score of 5.3 out of 10, to have the most balanced labour relations laws in Canada. It’s also the only province to score over 5.0. Ontario and Newfoundland & Labrador tied with 3.4, while the federal government (1.1) and Manitoba (1.8) have the lowest scores. Other scores are Quebec (2.1), Nova Scotia (3.0), PEI (3.0), New Brunswick (2.8), Saskatchewan (3.2) and BC (2.3).

The study cites 24 states with Right-to-Work legislation – which allows employees to fully opt out of paying union dues – score 8.5 out of 10. The remaining 26 states each score 6.8 out of 10.

Canadian workers are compelled to join a union as a condition of their employment.

The study highlights how what it promotes as “balanced labour relations laws” allow workers to more easily change jobs in search of higher pay or better working conditions, and allows employers to better respond to market changes.

The study highlights specific problems facing individual provinces such as changes in Michigan and Indiana’s status to Right-to-Work states.

“Competitiveness is a particularly acute problem for Ontario and this is but one more example where the province seriously lags its neighbours and competitors,” said Charles Lammam, study co-author and resident scholar in economic policy at the Fraser Institute.

BC and Quebec are also singled out as the only two jurisdictions in North America that ban the use of replacement workers, which has been shown to affect business investment decisions.

Click here for a copy of the study.

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