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Mail Delivery for Canadians Act and the Ontario government’s Bill 115 – Putting Students First Act (even though it was repealed in 2013).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


 
 

Appeal Courts uphold substantial costs awards for regulators

May 22, 2024

By Sean Kelly & Michiko Gartshore Professional regulators can incur substantial costs through discipline processes. These costs are often associated with investigations, hearings as well as committee member expenses and are an unfortunate by-product of…

Read More

Less than two weeks to go … Canada Supply Chain Transparency Reports are due May 31st

May 21, 2024

By Christine Pound, ICD.D., Twila Reid, ICD.D., Sarah Dever Letson, CIPP/C, Sheila Mecking, Hilary Newman, and Daniel Roth Introduction The first reports under the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act (the…

Read More

Court upheld municipality’s refusal to disclose investigation report

May 1, 2024

By Sheila Mecking and Sarah Dever Letson A recent decision out of the Court of King’s Bench of New Brunswick,[1] upheld the Municipality of Tantramar’s decision to withhold a Workplace Assessment Report under section 20(1)…

Read More

Occupational Health and Safety sentencing decision – Nova Scotia

April 29, 2024

By Sean Kelly & Tiegan Scott Earlier this month, the Provincial Court of Nova Scotia issued its sentencing decision in R v The Brick Warehouse LP, 2024 NSPC 26, imposing a monetary penalty of $143,750 (i.e.,…

Read More

Canada 2024 Federal Budget paves the way for Open Banking

April 22, 2024

By Kevin Landry On April 15, 2024, the Canadian federal budget was released. Connected to the budget was an explanation of the framework for Canada’s proposed implementation of Open Banking (sometimes called consumer-driven banking). This follows…

Read More

Reset for renewables: Nova Scotia overhauls energy regulation and governance in advance of influx of renewable energy

April 5, 2024

By Nancy Rubin and James Gamblin The Government of Nova Scotia has embarked on a path to dramatically reshape the regulation and governance of the energy sector with the passage of Bill 404, the Energy…

Read More

An employer’s guide to human rights law in Atlantic Canada

April 2, 2024

By Kathleen Starke and Annie Gray Human rights landscape Human rights legislation prohibits discrimination in specific contexts, including employment and the provision of services. In all Atlantic Provinces, Human Rights Commissions are responsible for enforcing…

Read More

Recognizing subtle discrimination in the workplace: insights from recent legal cases

March 4, 2024

By Sheila Mecking and Michiko Gartshore Subtle discrimination can have a much stronger and longer effect on employees when not properly addressed. It can also result in costly consequences for an employer who does not…

Read More

Immediate changes to travel eligibility for citizens of Mexico

February 29, 2024

By Brittany Trafford and Brendan Sheridan Today Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has announced significant changes to the travel requirements for Mexican citizens. As of February 29, 2024 at 11:30p.m. Eastern Time, all electronic…

Read More

Updated guidance on business reporting obligations under Canada’s supply chain transparency legislation

February 23, 2024

By Christine Pound, ICD.D., Twila Reid, ICD.D., Sarah Dever Letson, CIPP/C, Hilary Newman and Daniel Roth Introduction As we reported on November 30, 2023, the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains…

Read More

Search Archive


Scroll To Top