Executive Summary – NPF Position paper on Bill C-7. The entire position paper is available on our web page here
The National Police Federation, the largest organization seeking to become the certified bargaining agent for members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), has many concerns regarding Bill C-7. We appreciate and support the amendments suggested by the Senate, nonetheless there remains at issue serious flaws and omissions in Bill C-7. Many of these issues involve failing to respect RCMP members’ Constitutional – Charter rights. They include:
- Police officer, as “office holders” are distinct from civil servants and the labour relations scheme adopted for them should recognize this;
Police officers are not simply civil servants who are subordinate as required by the nature of the traditional employment relationship. They exercise broad discretion due to their “office holder” functions. These duties require independent decision-making with respect to investigating, arresting and prosecuting. Consequently, they are not subordinate when undertaking these duties and require supplementary protection from anyone who would attempt to usurp their discretion. See: Supreme Court of Canada cases: Roncarelli v. Duplessis with respect to the Rule of Law and the Court unanimously in R. v Campbell as regards police status compared to civil servants. The Supreme Court stated….“this conclusion does not mandate a particular labour relations regime or bar the federal government from pursuing an avenue other than the PSLRA to govern labour relations within the RCMP……..”
- The RCMP itself must be included as one of the employers with whom RCMP members have the right to negotiate terms and conditions of employment;
Bill C-7 states Treasury Board is the employer. However all officers of the RCMP are to be excluded from the bargaining unit presumably as representatives of the RCMP, the employer? Accordingly, the representatives of the RCMP members would negotiate with the Treasury Board. However the Treasury Board in relation to the RCMP members only has statutory authority, essentially, to fix compensation and categories of employment.
The whole economy of numerous paragraphs of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision interpreting “freedom of association” leads to the conclusion that RCMP is at a minimum a common employer.
How could negotiations be “meaningful” as required by the Supreme Court if RCMP members’ representatives could not negotiate with RCMP Management “with whom their interests interact and, perhaps, conflict, namely, their employers.” The implicit purpose of collective bargaining is to give voice to be able to speak truth to authority. It is the management of the RCMP with the statutory authority over work harassment , transfers, discipline, promotions, and many other work conditions.
- The exclusions of certain conditions of work from collective bargaining under Bill C-7 interfere with the representatives of the members’ right to negotiate” their workplace goals”;
Bill C-7, after third reading by House of Commons provided numerous specific and important conditions of work under the jurisdiction of the RCMP Commissioner that could not be bargained or included in a collective agreement. This conflicts with the Supreme Court interpretation of 2(d) of the Charter, in Health Services and Support – Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia, .
The Senate agreed and has recommended the removal of these exclusions. We would expect that the House of Commons will also follow the current jurisprudence from the Supreme Court.
- The obligation of negotiation in Good Faith encompasses important characteristics which are not provided for in Bill C-7;
Good Faith would have required the only named employer, the Treasury Board and the future Association to modify their respective behaviours for Collective Bargaining, including” meeting and engaging in meaningful dialogue.”
As stated in para.2 above, how can members of the RCMP have meaningful consultation in good faith if the RCMP itself is not required to be at the bargaining table for the majority of terms and conditions of employment?
- The provision for independent arbitration of grievances under an inclusive collective agreement.
In order to provide for independent unbiased arbitration of grievances under the collective agreement, arbitrators must be mutually agreed upon between the parties. Presently the Commissioner of the RCMP has the final word on grievances. The Commissioner‘s officer representatives are assigned to act as arbitrators. Yet if the decisions of the courts are examined, the Commissioners officers may be the perpetrator or the accused of harassment!
Our members work at some 730 locations in and outside of Canada. Sometimes alone. Why not include their statutory rights in the collective agreement or provide the arbitrator with the jurisdiction over the statutory rights, pursuant to a grievance for comprehensible, Bill C-7 prefers for members to have the hurdles of discovering the appropriate legislation and unique procedure for each statutory recourse. One only has to see the numerous press reports on the plight of members who wish to seek justice, the delays they endured and the numerous studies that speak to this issue.
This essentially downloads the responsibility on each member of the RCMP to be aware of all guiding legislation versus allowing them one outlet – an all-inclusive one, a collective agreement, to be able to file grievances under.
The NPF and its members visualize relationships that are built on mutual respect and understanding, capable of solving issues that arise preferably without turning to grievances or litigation. The basis of providing the public with the best police service, depends on the internal capacity of the organization to exchange views respectively together. Bill C-7 remains fundamentally flawed and its present contents are not conducive to building a workplace of mutual respect and understanding.
We make ourselves available for further discussion on the above.
Co-Chairs of the National Police Federation