Jacob Finkelman, O.C., Q.C., LL.D
1907 – 2003
Jacob Finkelman was born in Russia in 1907 and arrived in Canada the same year. He grew up in Hamilton and attended the University of Toronto where he received a B.A., a M.A. and a LL.B. He later received a LL.D. (hon. causa) from York University in 1977.
Mr. Finkelman began his career as a law professor at his alma mater in 1930, as the first Jewish professor to be hired by that institution. He remained there until 1967, when he left to pursue a full-time career in labour law and mediation.
In 1944, Mr. Finkelman became the first chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. His tenure as chair spanned the years 1944 to 1947, and 1953 to 1967. He then took the position as first chair of the Public Service Staff Relations Board, from 1967-1976.
Author of numerous publications, perhaps Mr. Finkelman's two most important were his Employer-employee relations in the Public Service of Canada, published in 1975, and Collective Bargaining in the Public Service: The Federal Experience in Canada, which he co-authored with Shirley B. Goldenberg in 1983.
Although he had left his full-time teaching career, he dedicated his life to the teaching of Canadian labour law, continuing to lecture part-time at various universities. He was also a leading arbitrator under collective agreements between various industries and was well known for his genuine desire to resolve conflicts.
Jacob Finkelman won several awards in his life, notably becoming an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976.
He passed away at the age of 96.
As ongoing tributes, the University of Toronto Law School has established the Jacob Finkelman prize in labour law, and the library at the Public Service Labour Relations Board was named in his honour.