Freedom of association: What’s next for unions?

Court finds RCMP officers have right to form associations, but just not necessarily unions
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 06/25/2012

Two recent labour relations cases involving freedom of association underscore the lack of clarity still existing around this right and the need for the Supreme Court of Canada to ultimately define it more clearly, according to Sara Slinn, a labour expert with Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University.

Earlier this month, the federal government won its appeal of a 2009 court decision that would have allowed RCMP members to form a union.

Ontario’s Court of Appeal rejected the lower court’s finding that it was unconstitutional for the RCMP to prevent members from forming a labour association. The court pointed to the existence of a legal fund for private legal representation as well as a staff relations representative program, and noted RCMP members have also been allowed to form their own voluntary associations.