Sask. government passes new laws for essential services

The Sask. government has passed a number of legislation changes to the Saskatchewan Employment Act after the Supreme Court ruled the previous law for essential services was unconstitutional.

Previous law deemed unconstitutional by Supreme Court

Don Morgan discussed changes to essential services laws at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Tuesday. (Rob Kruk/CBC )

The Saskatchewan government has passed a number of legislation changes to the Saskatchewan Employment Act after the Supreme Court ruled the previous law for essential services was unconstitutional earlier this year.

These changes take place as amendments to the Saskatchewan Employment Act. The definition for essential services has been removed. Instead each party will decide what services are essential. 

When there is a disagreement over it, a third-party tribunal will be called in to help decide.

An arbitration panel will also be called in when the essential services agreement gets in the way of a strike or lockout.

Supreme Court ruling

Saskatchewan's Labour Minister Don Morgan admitted that the province hasn't had a very good record in getting settlements over the last few years. 

"I'm hoping that this is a tool that's not used very much, but I hope that the fact that it's there will be an incentive for people to get to the bargaining table and negotiate," he said. 

In January, the Supreme Court struck down the the controversial essential services law that restricted who can strike.

But Morgan said he believes the Supreme Court will be satisfied with the changes made. 
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in January 2015 that Saskatchewan's essential services law was unconstitutional because it violated Canadians' right to freedom of association. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"I know the government side went back and consulted as much as they could internally. And we believe that it does satisfy with the supreme court requirements," he said.

Morgan said the government had three people from the labour-side involved in the development of the new rules, so he thinks they should be happy with the changes as well. 

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