Skip to main content

Bill to ban replacement workers among those held up by Manitoba Opposition delays

The Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press) The Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg. (The Canadian Press)

The Manitoba government's legislative agenda, including efforts to ban replacement workers and make it easier to join a union, was pushed back Monday by the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, who stalled proceedings in the chamber.

The NDP government tried to introduce a bill that would ban the use of replacement workers during strikes and lockouts. Another bill would end a requirement for secret-ballot voting for workers to join a union, and instead allow unionization if a majority of workers at a location sign a union card.

"This is something that workers have been asking for for decades," Labour Minister Malaya Marcelino said.

"This legislation will pass."

But one by one, members of the Tory Opposition rose Monday afternoon on matters of privilege -- complaints which allege that a politician's work is being interfered with and which put a stop to all other proceedings.

There are several other bills now stalled as well, including a bill to recognize March 31 as Two-Spirit and Transgender Day of Visibility, a bill to change the rules governing rent increases by landlords and a bill to make it easier to seize criminal assets.

Tory education critic Grant Jackson complained that Premier Wab Kinew had called him a "failed political staffer." Tory interim leader Wayne Ewasko complained that Kinew had accused him of being against transgender people.

The process continued until the legislature broke for the day after 5 p.m.

Some business groups have spoken out against the labour bills. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has said the current labour laws are balanced and some of the proposed changes would tilt the playing field unfairly.

Marcelino said a committee of labour and management representatives that advises the government did not reach a consensus on the ideas. She said employers should not worry about a ban on replacement workers

"Quebec has had this since the 1970s. B.C. has had this since 1993. The sun will continue to rise and set the day after this legislation is put through."

Ewasko later said the Tories were not simply delaying proceedings but raising legitimate concerns. He also said the NDP government could have brought forward its bills earlier.

"The NDP government had ample time to debate bills last week," Ewasko said.

Tory finance critic Obby Khan pointed out the NDP engaged in the same kind of delays when they were in Opposition in 2020. For several days, NDP members rose on matters of privilege and delayed introduction of some 20 bills and the provincial budget.

The delays this year are unlikely to prevent the bills from becoming law, because the NDP has a solid majority. But the bills could be delayed if the Tories continue to raise complaints Tuesday. Under the legislature's rules, bills not introduced by Tuesday can be pushed back until the fall instead of going to a final vote before the summer break.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024. Top Stories

Stay Connected