Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in Ontario (A.G.) v. Fraser (Fraser), there has, predictably, been widespread speculation as to its eventual effect on the labour relations landscape in Canada. A departure from other recent SCC case law, Fraser found that there was no constitutional guarantee for any specific form of labour relations or collective bargaining regime. Even if the decision was significant in shaping Canada’s constitutional framework for collective bargaining, any tangible effect on labour policy has yet specifically to materialize. That said, there has certainly been a shift in the discourse concerning labour relations, labour policy, and the role of unions in Canada, and certain recent policy initiatives suggest that broader change may very well be coming.
This article highlights some of those initiatives, discusses how Fraser laid the groundwork for them, and considers what they could mean for the future of labour relations in Canada. In doing so, this article first traces the jurisprudential treatment of labour relations policy since the SCC decision in Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Association v. British Columbia (BC Health) – the immediate constitutional precursor to Fraser. It then reviews a number of post-Fraser policy initiatives, the effect they have on the labour relations landscape, and their potential implications for the future.