B.C.'s labour laws are failing workers, says Fraser Institute

All Canadian provinces lag behind American states in terms of labour relations laws, and British Columbia is particularly bad, according to a Fraser Institute study released August 28.

All Canadian provinces lag behind American states in terms of labour relations laws, and British Columbia is particularly bad, according to a Fraser Institute study released August 28.

The laws in Canada restrict worker choices, leading to suppression of job growth and investment, argues the study, while laws in every U.S. state are less biased and more conducive to growth.

“Overall, Canadian provinces as well as the federal government dramatically lag behind U.S. states in terms of providing workers with the choices and opportunities that come from balanced, neutral labour relations laws,” said study co-author Charles Lammam, resident scholar in economic policy at the Fraser Institute.

The study looked at the ways in which the laws addressed how unions can be organized, union security and regulation of unionized firms in all 10 provinces and 50 states. In terms of how balanced the laws are, it said, British Columbia scored a 2.3 out of 10.

B.C. scored particularly badly in terms of its laws that ban the use of replacement workers. The only other province with similar legislation in Quebec.

Alberta received the highest score in Canada, with 5.3, making it the only Canadian province to score over 5 on the index.

“Despite having the best rating among provinces, Alberta still trails all U.S. states and has the same basic failing as all other Canadian jurisdictions in areas such as mandatory union membership and dues payment,” Lammam said.

On the other hand, all U.S. states scored well over 5. In the 24 states with right-to-work legislation, which allow employees to opt out of paying union dues, the score was 8.5 out of 10. The 26 states without right-to-work laws scored 6.8.

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In a release, the Fraser Institute said that while U.S. workers can’t be compelled to join a union as a condition of their employment, the same does not hold true in Canada.

“The evidence shows that more balanced labour relations laws benefit workers and the overall economic performance of a jurisdiction,” Lammam said.

“Giving workers increased choice regarding union membership and dues payment, and making the labour relations laws less prescriptive would improve the functioning of Canada’s labour market.”

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaHampelBIV