MEDIA RELEASE: Landmark Court Decision Shows Bill 1 Is Unconstitutional

NSGEU President Joan Jessome says today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision on the RCMP’s right to unionize makes it clear that the provincial government’s Bill 1 breaches the constitutional rights of 24,000 health care workers.

“This is a landmark decision for unions across the country,” says Jessome.

“Here in Nova Scotia, this ruling makes clear that the Liberal government has trampled on the rights of workers.”

Paragraph 98 of the decision reads:

Freedom of association requires, among other things, that no government process can substantially interfere with the autonomy of employees in creating or joining associations of their own choosing, even if in so doing they displace an existing association.”

“This ruling means that our government’s Bill 1 will not withstand a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court level,” Jessome adds. “The Liberals’ decision to take away workers’ chosen bargaining agents and dismissing out of hand the agreement of the four unions to form bargaining associations – with the support of their members – breaches the constitution.”

“In light of this ruling, we respectfully call on the Minister of Health & Wellness to meet with the four unions and the new CEO of the Provincial Health Authority to discuss the implications of this decision and create a path to positive labour relations, in the interest of all Nova Scotians.”

Today’s decision goes on to say:

“The function of collective bargaining is not served by a process which undermines employees’ rights to choose what is in their interest and how they should pursue those interests. The degree of choice required by the Charter is one that enables employees to have effective input into the selection of their collective goals. This right to participate in the collective is crucial to preserve employees’ ability to advance their own interests, particularly in schemes which involve trade-offs of individual rights to gain collective strength.”

Additionally: “Employee choice may lead to a diversity of associational structures and to competition between associations, but it is a form of exercise of freedom of association that is essential to the existence of employee organizations and to the maintenance of the confidence of members in them.”

To read the full decision, visit



The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotian’s count on every day.

For more information, please contact:

Holly Fraughton, NSGEU Communications Officer
424.4063 (office)
471.1781 (cell)


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