AuthorTimothy Hadwen - David Strang - Leonard Marvy - Don Eady
ProfessionDirector, Legal Services Branch, Ontario Ministry of Labour - Associate Director, Management Board Secretariat - Solicitor, Ontario Labour Relations Board - Partner, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP
Governments choose the leg islation and policies t hat regulate the relat ionship
between the government as employer and its own employees. G overnments can
choose to treat their employees the s ame way as private sector employees are
treated, by allowi ng the employment relationship between t he government and
its employees to be subject to generally appl icable labour and employment laws.
Alternat ively, governments can a ssert their “sovere ignty” by choosi ng to exempt
themselves from labour and employment laws. Additionally, governments can
tailor legislat ion to create a unique employment relationship. e last route has
been chosen by the province of Ontario. e province has enacted t wo statutes,
the Public Service Act (PSA), and the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act
(CECBA), and modied other acts, to produce a unique employment and labou r
relations regime. e goal wa s a provincial government workforce that be tter
serves t he people of Ontar io. Specically, it was thought important to have leg-
islative limits on the shor t-term wishes of al l directly concerned — the politica l
party in power, the managers re sponsible for government administration, a nd
government employees . Instead of having t he rights of a private se ctor employer,
the government of the day is held to special st andards. Similarly, instead of hav-
ing the same entitlements as pr ivate sector employees, government workers have
been given some added responsibilities .
e core justication for these pa rticular stat utory requirements is the main-
tenance of the public serv ice and “essential” public ser vices. e public service is
one of the bulwarks of Ontario soc iety, and an indispensa ble part of democratic
government. Political par ties in power, and public service managers, should not
At the federal leve l, then-Prime Minist er Lester Pearson said of publ ic service labour
legislation t hat it must “take care to preser ve the capacity of the publ ic service to func-
tion eciently i n serving the people of C anada”: House of Commons Debates, (Apri l ,
), Vol. IV at .

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