News You Can Use: Bill 28/PSSA
May 18, 2022
Manitoba Government Appeals Court of Queen’s Bench $19.4M Ruling
In February, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba released its decision about the damages awarded to you and UMFA after the Pallister government interfered in our 2016 round of collective bargaining. The court found that the Government violated your charter rights and “significantly disrupted” the relationship with our employer. The Court ordered the Government to pay UMFA and its members $19.4 Million dollars, plus interest, for a portion of the costs of the 2016 strike, your lost wages during that strike, and the wage increases you would have seen between 2016 and 2020 had the government not interfered in negotiations.
Today, the provincial government has appealed this decision. Now they have 45 days to file their arguments and evidence, after which time UMFA’s lawyers will file their response on behalf of UMFA members. These legal processes will continue for many months (or years) before the process is finalized.
This is the largest damages award for a labour-related Charter case in Canadian history, so it is no surprise that the provincial government has appealed this decision. It continues to be extraordinarily disappointing that the government is not interested in making amends for interfering in your right to free and fair collective bargaining and infringing on the autonomy of the university.
February 23, 2022
Court Orders Government of Manitoba to Pay $19.3 Million to UMFA members
Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench has just released its decision about the remedies owed to you and UMFA after the Pallister government interfered in our 2016 round of collective bargaining.
The court has found that the Government violated your charter rights and “significantly disrupted” UMFA’s relationship with our employer. The Court ordered the Government to pay UMFA and its members $19.3 Million dollars, plus interest, for the costs of the strike and for your lost wages.
This is a bittersweet ruling. Though it is affirming that the Judge decided definitively in our favour, the government should never have interfered in our collective bargaining in the first place.
In her decision, Justice McKelvey clearly explains how the provincial government disrupted the 2016 round of collective bargaining. In 2017, the Manitoba Labour Board already found that the university’s administration was at fault for not disclosing its compliance with the Government’s mandate, and ordered the University of Manitoba to apologize and pay damages to you and to UMFA. Justice McKelvey has now determined that the government’s violation of your charter rights were responsible for triggering the 2016 strike and your lost wages, and therefore awarded us these damages:
- To anyone who was an UMFA member at any point between April 2016 and March 2020: one-time payments totaling $15 Million for wages lost due to government interference
- To members who were on strike in 2016: one-time payments totaling $1.6 Million for wages lost over 21 days of picketing
- To the Association, for costs associated with the strike of 2016: $2.7 Million
The government could appeal this decision. Details of how the money will be distributed will only be finalized after the appeal period has ended. If the decision is appealed, it could be many months (or years) before the process is finalized.
Despite the continued uncertainties of this process, I hope you all take a moment to celebrate this ruling. In 2016, we knew our rights were violated, and since then you have continued to defend your right to free and fair collective bargaining, and to protect the autonomy of the university from government interference. The Justice, in her ruling, affirms these actions.
The full decision is available on the UMFA website in two parts:
Oct. 13, 2021 - Decision on the Government's appeal of the PSSA ruling - available here.
Feb. 25, 2021 - The Partnership to Defend Public Services has filed a reply to the Government’s appeal of the PSSA decision, which declared the PSSA ‘draconian’. Read it here.
Jan. 4, 2021 – The Manitoba Government has filed the details of its Appeal of Justice McKelvey’s decision, available here.
Jan. 2020 - The following is a helpful resource on the background and legal context of the PSSA trial, written by a former lawyer: https://manitoba-pssa-ontrial.com/.
Nov. 2019 - This fact sheet contains information on both Bill 28 and Bill 2, which was introduced in the fall of 2019: Public Services Sustainability Act Fact Sheet - Manitoba Federation of Labour
Bill 28, the Public Services Sustainability Act was introduced by the Pallister government earlier in the Spring of 2017. This legislation will freeze the wages of 120,000 public-sector workers for two years and cap their pay for another two years. UMFA submitted a letter to the Standing Committee on Bill 28, which can be found here, and also appeared at the hearings on May 8.
The Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) is a group of unions representing over 100,000 workers in Manitoba. The group was formed to challenge the Pallister government's Public Services Sustainability Act, and to defend public services and their employees. Since entering office, the Pallister government has been unwilling to consider suggestions from Manitoba unions on ways to reduce spending and has instead chosen to move forward with legislation that inherently undermines the bargaining rights laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
July 4, 2017
The PSPD filed for an injunction against the Act. See statement of claim below (click on the image to access the entire document), as well as a press release issued by the Manitoba Federation of Labour on behalf of the Partnership.
October 20, 2017
The PDPS officially filed an injunction against the PSSA along with evidence that the Act will infringe on the bargaining rights of Manitobans. An expert’s opinion on the damage caused by the legislation was also submitted. To read the press release, click here.
STATEMENT OF CLAIM filed in the Court of Queen's Bench on July 4