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Feb. 1, 2024
VICTORIA – An independent panel has been appointed to review and provide recommendations for potential amendments to the Labour Relations Code (LRC).
This review will help ensure B.C.’s labour laws keep up with the needs of today’s workplaces, provide stable labour relations and support people’s collective bargaining rights.
Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, appointed the three-member review panel chaired by Michael Fleming, a mediator/arbitrator and former associate chair of the BC Labour Relations Board. Two labour and employment lawyers round out the panel, with Sandra Banister representing worker and union interests, and Lindsie Thomson, sitting on behalf of employer interests.
The panel is tasked with consulting interest groups and Indigenous parties across the province, and reporting back to the minister by May 31, 2024, with a report and recommendations for potential amendments to the LRC. The panel will also consider relevant developments in other Canadian jurisdictions to ensure B.C.’s labour laws are consistent with labour rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians.
The LRC establishes the relationships between provincially regulated employers, their workers and trade unions, and the rules for issues related to collective bargaining, such as how workers join unions, how employers and unions interact, and how labour disputes are resolved.
The provincial minister of labour is required to appoint a committee of special advisers every five years to undertake an independent review of the LRC and make recommendations. The last comprehensive review took place in 2018, which resulted in several substantive amendments to the LRC made in 2019 and 2022.
Two backgrounders follow.
Ministry of Labour
Michael Fleming, chair:
Fleming was called to the bar in 1989. He has more than 25 years of experience as an impartial third party, adjudicating and resolving disputes in a wide range of sectors in B.C. and the Yukon, including the public service, Crown corporations, education, transportation, construction, television and film, forestry, pulp and paper, and manufacturing. He has extensive experience in designing and implementing dispute resolution processes involving multiple parties. Fleming has held a number of positions with the Labour Relations Board, including vice-chair from 1997 until 2002 and associate chair of both adjudication and mediation between 2002 and 2012. Since then, he has been an arbitrator and mediator.
Sandra Banister, K.C., panel member and representative of worker and union interests:
Banister has practised labour law and civil litigation for more than 40 years. She has represented clients from both the public and private sectors and has appeared at all levels of court in British Columbia, labour arbitrations, the British Columbia Labour Board and the Human Rights Tribunal. Her ability and achievements in the legal profession were acknowledged when she was designated Queen’s Counsel in 2011 and she is recognized in the Best Lawyers peer review. Banister regularly volunteers with organizations providing ongoing legal education. She is a speaker at many seminars and conferences. She designed the British Columbia labour law course at the Canadian Labour Congress winter school, where she has taught since 1985.
Lindsie Thomson, panel member and representative of employer interests:
Thomson is managing partner for the law firm Harris & Company, where she has practised labour and employment law for more than 25 years. Thomson’s practice is a mix of day-to-day advice to employers on labour, employment, and human rights issues, as well as representation of employers in labour arbitrations, labour relations board hearings, human rights tribunal proceedings, employment standards proceedings, and in appeals to the B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Thomson is recognized for labour and employment, and education in Best Lawyers in Canada. She is a recommended lawyer for labour relations (management), employment law and workplace human rights in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. She regularly speaks on labour, employment and human rights law to employer audiences.
Ministry of Labour
Informed by the review in 2018, the Province made substantial amendments to the Labour Relations Code in 2019 and 2022. Highlights include:
Protection from contract flipping:
Extended successorship protection to re-tendering of service contracts in specific areas such as:
Education as an “essential service:”
Contact:Ministry of Labour