Digital Brain
digital brain
digital brain

Union Financial Disclosure Bill Passed by Canada’s Senate Just Before Summer Recess

July 2015 Employment and Labour Bulletin 2 minutes read

Immediately prior to their summer break, Canada’s Senate voted 35-22 to pass Bill C-377, a private member’s bill which is causing much consternation for trade unions.

This move comes as something of a surprise since it was the Senate who broke ranks with the federal government back in June 2013 to block passage of the same legislation. For further details on the legislative history and events in 2013, please see our earlier bulletin here.

The new legislation passed on June 30, 2015 will require labour organizations to publicly disclose all payments made to outside groups or individuals worth $5,000 or more. There will also be salary disclosure for workers earning more than $100,000.

The controversial new rules are set out in legislation sponsored by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert and are effected through changes to the Income Tax Act. The regime will require disclosure of relevant financial information to the Canada Revenue Agency. These statements would then be available on a public website. Similar regimes are already in place in certain other jurisdictions.

The ostensible justification for the new requirements is the fact that unions are exempt from taxation. Those who support C-377 argue that unions should be treated with the same public disclosure requirements that charities follow. Some have also claimed that the move to greater transparency is justifiable since unionized Canadian workplaces impose mandatory dues on employees whether or not they are union members, and union dues are tax deductible.

A number of unions have also been vocal about the excessive compliance costs. Critics of C-377 have also questioned the bill’s impact on privacy rights and its constitutionality. Indeed, a number of unions and the Canadian Labour Congress have already spoken out publicly about their intent to challenge the legal validity of the new regime. Among their complaints, the specific requirements on disclosing political activity allegedly infringe on freedoms of association and expression protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further public debate and legal wrangling on the issues appear to be almost inevitable.

by George Waggott

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2015

Related Publications (5 Posts)

Featured Insight

Major Canadian Banks Join Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) — Unpacking the Initiative and Net-Zero Commitments

On the eve of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, six of Canada’s largest banks announced they had signed on to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.

Read More
Oct 21, 2021
Featured Insight

Antitrust Reform: Canada Too!

James Musgrove and Sarah Stirling-Moffet talk Competition law reform in Canada after the Commissioner’s CBA speech - more money, more power!

Read More
Oct 21, 2021
Featured Insight

Addressing Unique Challenges Faced by Federally Regulated Employers

Federally regulated employers have had to adapt to a number of legal changes and challenges in recent years. In addition to continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, federally regulated employers have had to implement workplace changes to adhere to the new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations and begin preparing to meet their obligations under recently adopted Pay Equity Act.
This virtual workshop will focus on how to address some of the unique challenges faced by federally regulated employers.

Details
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Featured Insight

Practical Considerations for Structuring Private REITs

Despite volatility, the market for Canadian REITs continues to rally creating opportunity for new players in a number of asset classes. This webinar focuses on the practical considerations for structuring private REITs.

Details
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Featured Insight

Bill 64 Enacted: Québec’s Modern Privacy Regime

An in-depth analysis of Quebec's 2021 modernization of its private-sector privacy legislation.

Read More
Oct 15, 2021