In January 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan (SFL decision). In this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the right to strike is fundamental to the collective bargaining process and is constitutionally protected under section 2(d) (Freedom of Association) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter).
In response to the SFL decision, the Government of Alberta passed two pieces of legislation:
- Bill 4, An Act to Implement a Supreme Court Ruling Governing Essential Services (2016)
- Bill 7: An Act to Enhance Post-secondary Academic Bargaining (2017)
Prior to the amendments, public sector employees governed by Public Service Employee Relations Act (PSERA) and the Labour Relations Code (LRC) could not strike. The new legislation allows for strikes and lockouts of public sector employees subject to the maintenance of essential services. These changes affect health care workers employed by Alberta Health Services and other approved hospitals, employees of the provincial government and agencies, boards and commissions and non-academic staff at post-secondary institutions.