Skip to content

Nova Scotia Government Introduces Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act

By Brian G. Johnston, QC

On the same day that the Nova Scotia government announced its projected deficit had ballooned to $241 million, it also introduced Bill 148, the Public Services Sustainability (2015) Act (“Act”).

The stated purposes of the Act are to create a framework for public sector employee compensation plans by placing fiscal limits on increases to compensation, to authorize a portion of cost savings identified through collective bargaining, and to fund increases in compensation – all while encouraging meaningful collective bargaining processes.

In addition, the Act establishes a collective bargaining pattern for four-year public sector deals which impose wage increases at the following rates:

Year 1: 0%;
Year 2: 0%;
Year 3: 1%; and
Year 4: 2%.

This pattern mirrors the one that the Province had been hoping to set through tentative deals established with Nova Scotia’s teachers and the Province’s largest union, the NSGEU. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia’s 10,000 teachers rejected the tentative deal and the NSGEU refused to present it to their 7,600 civil service members.

Naturally, there is talk of constitutional challenges, but s. 28 of the Act says that neither an arbitrator nor the Nova Scotia Labour Board has jurisdiction to determine Bill 148’s constitutional validity. Notably, the Act addresses requirements found in the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Meredith v. Canada, 2015 SCC 2, which ruled that the federal government’s right to limit wage increases in the 2009 Expenditure Restraint Act passed constitutional muster and did not offend the s. 2(d) Charter right to associate. The wage increases in the Act are consistent with the increases the Nova Scotia government was able to negotiate with both teachers and the civil service and may, therefore, be reflective of “an outcome consistent with actual bargaining processes”.

Nonetheless, we know that there are ongoing court challenges to restraint legislation, including the federal government’s 2011 Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act and the Ontario government’s Bill 115 – Putting Students First Act (even though it was repealed in 2013).

Assuming the majority Liberal government actually passes the Act, its enactment will be delayed, giving all 75,000 public sector employees the opportunity to negotiate. However, any such negotiations will need to be within the boundaries established through the legislated framework. Undoubtedly, collective bargaining – in some manner or another – will continue in Nova Scotia, but court challenges may yet be commenced. Stay tuned! Life is interesting when the cupboard is bare.

SHARE

Archive

Search Archive


Generic filters

 
 

Nova Scotia unveils changes to financial hardship unlocking – financial institutions to receive applications starting July 1, 2021

June 11, 2021

Dante Manna with the assistance of Kali Robertson (summer student) The Nova Scotia Government recently released regulations reassigning the authority for administering financial hardship unlocking in the province. Effective July 1, 2021, individuals will apply directly…

Read More

Reuniting with family: who can come to Canada despite COVID-19 restrictions?

June 10, 2021

Brittany Trafford The Canadian borders have been restricted for over a year now and many families have struggled with being separated. Throughout 2020 and early 2021 restrictions have fluctuated as the federal government tried to…

Read More

Unifor Local 64 v Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited: citing statutory duty to provide safe workplace as justification to demand drug test

June 7, 2021

Harold Smith, QC with the assistance of Matthew Raske (summer student) A recent labour arbitration decision, Unifor Local 64 and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited, shows how the permissibility of drug and alcohol testing continues…

Read More

Planning for re-opening: what might an international border opening look like in Canada?

June 2, 2021

Brittany Trafford Last week the Maritime provinces announced various re-opening plans based on vaccine trajectories, with Newfoundland and Labrador making an announcement today¹. These plans address, among other things, who will be able to enter…

Read More

COVID-19 immigration update

May 31, 2021

*Last updated: May 31, 2021 (Originally published April 1, 2020) Kathleen Leighton Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are various implications for the immigration world, including for those already in Canada, as well as those…

Read More

Nova Scotia unveils reopening plan

May 28, 2021

Katharine Mack Premier Ian Rankin and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang provided details on Nova Scotia’s reopening plan this afternoon. The Province’s plan has a total of 5 phases. Phase 1, which focuses…

Read More

Khan v. CBC – the expanding role of privacy law in labour arbitrations

May 27, 2021

Chad Sullivan A recent labour arbitration decision (Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Canadian Media Guild (Khan), Re, 2021 CanLII 761) provides another example of how privacy law continues to evolve and can directly impact the outcome…

Read More

The Retail Payment Activities Act: the federal government’s proposed regulation of retail payments for FinTech

May 27, 2021

Kevin Landry and Annelise Harnanan (summer student) In April 2021, the federal government introduced the draft Retail Payments Activities Act (“RPAA”) as part of Bill C-30, the Act to implement the 2021 federal budget. Under…

Read More

New Brunswick regulator seeks input on revised proposed rule under Unclaimed Property Act

May 25, 2021

Christopher Marr, TEP and Level Chan with the assistance of Annelise Harnanan (summer student) On May 20, 2021, the New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission (“FCNB”) released a revised version of one of its…

Read More

Nova Scotia Court of Appeal unwilling to affirm Charter right to testamentary freedom

May 21, 2021

Jennifer Taylor and Bhreagh Ross   The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has overturned a decision that found a Charter right to testamentary freedom. Nova Scotia (Attorney General) v Lawen Estate¹ involved an appeal by…

Read More

Search Archive


Generic filters

Scroll To Top