Media Release: Judgment finds Essential Services Legislation Unconstitutional

February 7, 2012
For Immediate Release

Saskatoon – The decision of Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Dennis Ball was well received by members of SEIU-West yesterday. Justice Ball determined that The Public Services Essential Services Act (PSES Act) is unconstitutional because it infringes on Charter rights and freedoms protected by s. 2 (d) to the extent that there is no rational justification for that infringement. Justice Ball’s decision is to be suspended for a period of 12 months to allow time for the Government of Saskatchewan to amend the legislation.

“This decision will mark a date in history that will remain relevant to all of us for a very long time. SEIU-West healthcare members struggled to achieve a fair collective agreement that was negatively impacted by this legislation; a delayed 27 month process which began in the fall of 2008. At the same time, no alternate dispute resolution strategies were available to us. The success of today was long-awaited and well-deserved. We are hopeful that this decision will result in a positive outcome for our future negotiations processes,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West.

The decision of Justice Ball acknowledged the broad application of the PSES Act and noted that there was an imbalance of power prior to the legislation, however this legislation didn’t fix the imbalance – merely shifted it to another party. He noted the absence of an independent dispute mechanism and he confirmed that the Saskatchewan legislation comes close to prohibiting the right to strike.

Cape added: “Our members desired an opportunity to talk with government about this legislation in 2008. We continue to press government to start that conversation now. We understand the importance of the work we do, whether it’s in healthcare, education, municipalities or other sectors. I think this is a historic moment where all parties come to a resolution together – for the public good and to support workers’ rights.”

SEIU-West represents over 12,000 working people in the province of Saskatchewan who work in the healthcare, education, municipal, community-based, and other sectors.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator – 306.652.1011 ext. 2250

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Media Release: Judgment finds essential services legislation unconstitutional

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