On June 19, House Government Bill C-4, « An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Income Tax Act », received Royal Assent after an interesting showdown between the Government and the Senate.

The objective of this Bill, which constituted an electoral promise by the Federal Liberals during the last campaign, is twofold : i) to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act to restore the procedures for the certification and the revocation of certification of bargaining agents that existed before June 16, 2015, and; ii) to amend the Income Tax Act to remove from that Act the requirement that labour organizations and labour trusts provide annually to the Minister of National Revenue certain information returns containing specific information that would be made available to the public.

Having finally received Royal Assent, this new Bill will quash the effects of two Bills which were adopted under the Harper Government era, namely C-525 and C-377. C-525, which came into force on June 16, 2015, amended the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act to provide that the certification and decertification of a bargaining agent under these Acts must be achieved by a secret ballot vote-based majority. C-377 amended the Income Tax Act to require that labour organizations provide financial information to the Minister for public disclosure.

While the Liberals had no problems in the House of Commons to pass their Bill, the Senate opted to separate it so that the recent secret ballot vote-based majority provisions remained intact. The MPs rejected this proposition and last week, the Bill was sent back to the Senate. The ensuing vote in the Upper House was 43-41 in favour of the Bill as proposed by the Liberals.

The major takeaway with regards to Bill C-4 is this : effective on June 22, 2017, union certification and revocation of certification under the Canada Labour Code will no longer be subjected to a secret ballot vote-based majority. In addition, unions will no longer have to provide financial information to the Minister for public disclosure.

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