In my new role as in-house counsel for a business with operations across Canada (and as a Quebecker), I’ve been doing a lot of explaining about la belle Province. My American colleagues are used to dealing with a Federal version of our provincial labour codes that applies (generally) in a uniform manner across all of the United States. In Canada, as we know, labour relations are provincially regulated and accordingly, differ from one province to another (save for federally regulated employees). However, the laws of Quebec are different from other provinces and allow for easier access to unionization and stronger protections for striking workers. The differences have been discussed in a previous post.
What is the impact of these differences? Is it time for this model to change? Do Quebec’s stricter labour laws serve as disincentive for employers to open and operate businesses in Quebec? In researching the subject, I came across this article written in 2005 by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI). While it’s a little dated, the laws are the same. The article concludes as follows:
The available data show that a strong union presence is not necessarily an asset for workers as a whole nor for the economy in general since it is accompanied by lower levels of employment and investment. […]
It is not unionization as such – nor the right of association – that causes these effects, but rather union privileges and the resulting constraints. To the extent that unions have privileges and use them either to set wages higher than would be the case without them, or to impose constraints that threaten the profitability and viability of businesses, they diminish employment and general prosperity.
What are your thoughts? Does Quebec’s stronger Labour Code promote unions and unionization at the expense of employers (and employment)? Should Quebec be a model for the rest of Canada or vice versa?