The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) launched a legal challenge against Bill C-59 on June 30.
Bill C-59, the omnibus 2015 Budget Implementation Act, gives the federal government power to amend certain provisions in government employee contracts without first negotiating the changes with unions.
PSAC filed its constitutional challenge to the legislation in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
According to the union, the bill denies employees’ right to good faith bargaining by giving the employer the unilateral authority to establish terms and conditions related to sick leave, including the establishment of a short-term disability program and the modification of the existing long-term disability program.
“We believe this is a violation of our rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson. “If the government can do this to the federal public service, they can do it to anyone.”
The union has requested the court declare Bill C-59 to be in direct violation of employees’ Charter rights.
Several other unions have also spoken out against the legislation, with the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) publicly condemning the bill alongside PSAC.
“The changes brought about by Bill C-59 are illegal and unconstitutional because they interfere with ‘meaningful collective bargaining’ which the Supreme Court has confirmed is protected by the Charter,” said Emmanuelle Tremblay, president of CAPE.