Bill C-377 Is Back: Unions to Be Required to Make Financial Disclosures in Canada

A controversial Private Members Bill that will have a direct impact on unions across Canada is currently working its way through Parliament. Bill C-377, which was passed by the Senate last week, will require unions to essentially open their financial books to the public.

Included in the Bill is a requirement for unions to disclose: a yearly balance sheet indicating their assets, liabilities, income and expenditures; the details of all transactions over $5,000, including the name and address of each party, a statement regarding the purpose of the transaction, and a description of each transaction; a statement indicating the total disbursements, including salary, made to each employee, contractor, officer, director or trustee; and a statement indicating the percentage of time each employee, contractor, officer, director or trustee dedicates to political activities.

Proponents of Bill C-377 laud it as improving transparency and accountability. Opponents argue that it raises privacy concerns and bogs down unions with unnecessary expense and administrative burden.

With the Liberal Senators declaring that the passage of the bill would spark a court challenge and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau vowing to repeal the law should his party win the Federal election, the fate of this Bill is still left to be determined.

Thoughts? Is this good law or a bad idea?


  1. David Collier-Brown

    It certainly puts the unions at a disadvantage in negotiation: an employer can see how much they have to use for “strike pay”, while the union has no similar x-ray vision into the transactions and officers’ salaries of the employer.

  2. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I am mostly having trouble seeing how it comes within federal jurisdiction unless the union represents federally-regulated workers. I note it is an amendment to the Income Tax Act, so presumably the argument is that this documentation is the quid pro quo for a trade union’s tax -exempt status. However, I wonder whether the courts will not see it as a colourable attempt to manage the internal affairs of a provincially-regulated body.

  3. Seven provinces have said they have concerns about federal encroachment. But I suspect that this is symbolic legislation which will have accomplished its purpose long before the Supreme Court of Canada gets round to restating the division between section 91 and section 92 as it applies to collective bargaining and the activities of unions.