TORONTO - Legislation that recognizes the unique characteristics of agriculture and the family farm while protecting the right of agricultural employees to associate has received legislative approval, Minister of Agriculture and Food Helen Johns announced November 18.
"This is a good day both for farmers and their employees," Johns said. "With passage of the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002, we have the means to protect Ontario’s harvests and food supply from disruptions caused by strikes and lockouts while respecting the individual and constitutional rights of employees."
"This legislation is a great example of how industry and government can partner for the benefit of all society. It prevents potentially devastating labour disruptions caused by collective bargaining while enshrining in law the right of employees to associate." Labour Issues Coordinating Committee (LICC) chairman Hector Delanghe said. LICC represents almost all major Ontario associations.
The Act addresses the December 20, 2001, Supreme Court of Canada Dunmore v. Ontario decision.
In 1995, the Ontario legislature repealed the Agricultural Labour Relations Act, 1994 (ALRA), which had extended collective bargaining to farm workers and was brought in by a previous government. The repeal of the statute was challenged by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union in the Dunmore case. The Supreme Court decision did not reinstate the ALRA.
The Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 is based upon opinions received during a series of public and private consultations held by the ministry. The Act will come into force upon proclamation.