Jurisdiction over Labour Relations Matters

"Labour relations" refers to the full spectrum of the relationship between employers and their employees. In some cases, employees have formed an employee organization to represent them in their dealings with the employer. Once it has been officially recognized, an employee organization becomes the employees' bargaining agent, at which point it is the only entity able to negotiate the conditions of employment for these employees with their employer.

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board’s (FPSLREB) mandate is to resolve labour relations issues in an impartial manner, through mediations and hearings. The FPSLREB fosters harmonious labour relations in the federal public sector, which contributes to a productive and efficient workplace that ultimately benefits Canadians from coast to coast through the smooth delivery of government programs and services.

Labour relations in the federal public service are governed by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA). The FPSLREB is the administrative tribunal charged with administering the FPSLRA. It resolves disputes between federal employees and their employer on all matters pertaining to:

  • unionization;
  • collective bargaining of conditions of employment;
  • requests for interpretation of collective agreements;
  • unfair labour practice complaints;
  • grievances filed by employees.

As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision in Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (AG), 2015 SCC 1, issued on January 16, 2015, labour relations for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) members and reservists came under the governance of the FPSLRA as of May 2016. The SCC determined that the RCMP’s labour relations regime was unconstitutional as it did not allow for meaningful collective bargaining, and infringed the freedom of association protected under section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter). It also determined that the appropriate remedy was to strike down para. (d) of the definition of “employee” in s. 2(1) of the PSLRA which excluded members of the RCMP, from its application in order to prevent them from exercising their associational rights under s. 2 (d) of the Charter.

In June 2017, Bill C-7 received Royal Assent and amended the FPSLRA to provide for a labour relations regime for members of the RCMP and reservists. The FPSLRA now provides a process for an employee organization to acquire collective bargaining rights for members and reservists and includes provisions that regulate collective bargaining, arbitration, unfair labour practices and grievances. It also amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (RCMP Act) to bar grievances related to the interpretation and application of a collective agreement or arbitral award, which are to be filed in accordance with the FPSLRA.

Parliament has also determined that the Canada Labour Code (the Code), Part II applies to federal employees. Part II of the Code deals with the rules governing occupational health and safety. The FPSLREB is the administrative tribunal charged with ruling on all complaints filed by federal employees when their employer has imposed a disciplinary measure upon them for acting in accordance with Part II of the Code.

Labour relations at the Library of Parliament, the House of Commons, the Senate, the office of the Senate Ethics Officer and the office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Parliamentary Protective Service and office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer are governed by the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (PESRA). The FPSLREB is the administrative tribunal charged with administering PESRA. It resolves disputes between parliamentary employees and their employer on all matters pertaining to:

  • unionization;
  • collective bargaining of conditions of employment;
  • requests for interpretation of collective agreements;
  • unfair labour practice complaints;
  • grievances filed by parliamentary employees.

Labour relations for:

  1. Military personnel are governed by the National Defence Act; and
  2. Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers are governed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.

Neither the FPSLREB nor the Canada Industrial Relations Board is charged with administering these Acts. However, officers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service may refer their grievances relating to disciplinary actions resulting in termination, demotion, suspension or financial penalty to adjudication, in which case they will be decided ultimately by an adjudicator of the FPSLREB.

Jurisdiction over Staffing (Employment) Matters

The FPSLREB is also responsible for the impartial and timely consideration and disposition of complaints submitted under the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) with respect to internal appointment and lay-off processes within the federal public service.

The FPSLREB conducts hearings, settlement conferences and mediation sessions in order to resolve complaints. In fulfilling its mandate, the FPSLREB fosters fair and transparent staffing practices, which contribute to a public service that is formed based on merit and embodying linguistic duality and human rights.

Generally-speaking, the PSEA applies only to departments and agencies for whom the Treasury Board is the employer – that is, the departments listed in Schedule I of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) and the agencies listed in Schedule IV. Since there are a few exceptions to the rule, you should check with your employer or your union representative to determine whether or not the Act applies in your case.

The staffing provisions of the PSEA do not apply to separate agencies named in Schedule V of the FAA, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The staffing provisions of the PSEA apply to some members of the RCMP who are appointed by Treasury Board. However, the PSEA does not apply to members appointed by the RCMP Commissioner under the RCMP Act. Only employees appointed under the PSEA can file staffing complaints with the FPSLREB.