The unfinished business of labour law reform in Ontario: A strategy for implementing sectoral bargaining


by Ethan Phillips January 12, 2018

On November 23, the Ontario legislature passed Bill 148, a sweeping revision of Ontario’s employment standards and labour relations legislation. While there was substantial media coverage of employer opposition to the bill’s provisions to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr., there was far less coverage of other aspects of the bill, particularly the labour relations portion.


Most of the changes in Bill 148 were rooted in recommendations contained in the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review, a two-year effort led by co-commissioners, Michael Mitchell and John Murray. Mitchell was a long time union-side labour lawyer while Murray represented the management side on the review.

The purpose of this post is to highlight a sub-set of labour relations options the Changing Workplaces Review labelled “broader-based bargaining”. While the Review’s discussion of these options was largely ignored by the media, behind the scenes unions, employer associations, academics, and lawyers representing both management and labour, engaged in an intense debate over the pros and cons of broader-based bargaining options with unions (to varying degrees) endorsing the concept and employer groups unanimously opposing it.

For many observers, sectoral bargaining is the only practical approach to reversing the 40 year decline of unions in the private sector. This article is essential reading for those interested in the future of the labour movement in North America.

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