Quebec labour group eyes court
Ottawa Sun Friday 20 12 2002
By DEREK ABMA,
An Outaouais-based group representing Quebec construction workers who work in Ontario is looking to the courts to provide interprovincial worker mobility rights.
Jocelyn Dumais, president for Association for the Right to Work, said he is challenging Quebec labour laws based on Charter provisions guaranteeing the right to work in the province of one’s choice.
He said Quebec workers are hurt by Ontario’s Bill 17, which makes it difficult for them to work in Ontario. The law is seen as retaliation for Quebec’s restrictive policies on Ontarians working in Quebec.
Dumais said if he can force the Quebec government to change its labour laws, the Ontario government would probably ease restrictions on Quebec workers. « The Quebec government should abolish its labour law so we can have open borders, » Dumais said.
While he is starting at the Quebec provincial court level, Dumais said he expects the legal battle to last a decade and end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. He said the legal costs for his group will be about $250,000.
The organization represents 3,000-4,000 Quebec construction workers. In March, Ontario enacted Bill 17, requiring Quebec-based contractors to register at the Ontario Jobs Protection Office and pay more than $10,000 in fees. Quebec workers are required to register, provide proof of qualifications and pay $100.