Supreme Court Orders New Labour Relations Model for RCMP

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the current labour relations model used by the RCMP is unconstitutional, as it does not give the members the right to engage in a meaningful collective bargaining process. The high court has given the Federal government 12 months to change the laws that govern the RCMP.

The Supreme Court on January 16, 2015 ruled that section 2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms “protects a meaningful process of collective bargaining that provides employees with a degree of choice and independence sufficient to enable them to determine and pursue their collective interests.”  The court determined that “the current labour relations regime denies RCMP members that choice and imposes on them a scheme that does not permit them to identify and advance their workplace concerns free from management’s influence.”

Currently the Public Service Labour Relations Act excludes RCMP staff from the definition of “employee” and the regulations under the RCMP Act create its own labour relations model, the Staff Relations Representative Program.  Under the federal regulation, the RCMP’s 21,000 regular and civilian members are represented in the workplace by 34 staff relations representatives, who are elected and work with RCMP senior executives to resolve workplace issues.  But they do not sit directly across from Treasury Board to negotiate pay, benefits or other labour relations issues.

The Court in making its decision did not indicate the type of labour relations model that should implemented, as it noted that “freedom of association does not guarantee a particular model of labour relations”, but suggested that whatever system was put in place should provide for “meaningful collective bargaining.”  The Court stated “while the RCMP’s mandate differs from that of other police forces, there is no evidence that providing the RCMP a labour relations scheme similar to that enjoyed by other police forces would prevent it from fulfilling its mandate.”

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