Thursday October 27th, 2022 Media Statement on behalf of the Manitoba Federation of Labour
Partnership to Defend Public Services disappointed by Supreme Court of Canada decision, but will continue to stand up for the right to collective bargaining
Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision not to hear the Partnership to Defend Public Services constitutional challenge to the Public Services Sustainability Act (Bill 28):
The Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS) is disappointed with today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to refuse to hear our constitutional appeal of the Pallister/Stefanson wage freeze law. In refusing to hear our case, the SCC is leaving unresolved the contradictory decisions issued by Manitoba’s two lower courts.
While this is not the outcome we were hoping for, we will continue to fight for the rights of workers to free and fair collective bargaining. It is unfortunate that the Stefanson government opposed our application for the SCC to hear our case, as the 120,000 working families who have been impacted by Bill 28 deserved to know if the law was constitutional or not.
However, we did force the Stefanson government to repeal Bill 28 this spring through the strength and solidarity of workers and their unions. While it was repealed five years too late, it is rare to force a government to back down from one of its signature pieces of legislation. And tens of thousands of workers have been able to punch through the government’s wage freeze wall and get fair deals through a combination of strikes, negotiations and arbitrations.
The Pallister/Stefanson wage freeze law unfairly impacted 120,000 public sector workers, and there are still thousands of dedicated Manitobans who are without a contract today because of the mess this government made. These are workers who provide the services we all rely on every day.
The Stefanson government cannot claim to want to reset government’s relationship with workers on one hand and stand in the way of their constitutional rights with the other. It’s time for this government to start working for working families, and we urge Heather Stefanson to get out of the way of free and fair collective bargaining in the public sector.