How Did We Get Here?

A timeline on the Bill 5 Supreme Court challenge

2007: Despite denying during the campaign it intended to pass essential services legislation (it was courting SUN at the time, remember?), the Saskatchewan Party introduces The Public Services Essential Services Act shortly after its November victory. By May 2008, Bill 5 and Bill 6 — the latter changing some requirements for union certification and communication in the workplace — are law.

2008: The SFL and affiliated unions file a complaint with the U.N.’s International Labour Organization. Later that year, they launch a court challenge arguing Bills 5 and 6 violate s.2(d) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms related to freedom of association.

2010: The ILO finds both bills in violation of Convention 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) that Canada and all provinces are signatories to. Then- labour minister Rob Norris dismisses the findings as “not some of the ILO’s best work.”

2012: Queen’s Bench Justice Dennis Ball rules Bill 6 constitutional, but declares Bill 5 unconstitutional. He gives the government one year to pass replacement legislation.

2013: On appeal, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upholds the constitutionality of Bill 5, citing as precedent the Supreme Court’s 1987 Labour Trilogy.

2014: After being granted leave to appeal, the litigants, along with multiple interveners on both sides, present their case to the Supreme Court on May 15.

2015: On Friday, Jan. 30, the court rules 5-2 that Bill 5 is unconstitutional, asserting that the ability to strike is “indispensable” to collective bargaining and therefore a constitutional right. /Gregory Beatty

2015-02-05