In a previous update, we reported on the main provisions of Bill C 58,1 which aims to prohibit federally regulated companies from using replacement workers (also known as “scabs”) during a labour dispute. 

On May 27, this bill was unanimously passed on third reading in the House of Commons, and is now being reviewed by the Senate.

This update presents the main amendments made following its review by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Additional prohibitions

In its initial version presented last November, the bill allowed the employer to continue to have striking employees’ work performed by other employees excluded from the unit, or by those who perform management functions or who are employed in a confidential capacity involving access to confidential labour relations information ("employed in a confidential capacity") insofar as they were already employed before or on the date on which notice to bargain collectively has been given.

The adopted amendments would reduce the scope of the above with respect to excluded employees of the striking unit whose services could not be used if (a) these employees usually work in a workplace other than the one where the strike or lockout is taking place or (b) if they were transferred to the workplace where the strike or lockout is taking place after the date on which notice to bargain collectively was given. 

However, this new prohibition would not apply to those employed in a confidential capacity and to those who perform management functions, which are not included in the definition of “employee” under Part I of the Canada Labour Code.

The amendments would also prohibit employers from using volunteers, students or members of the public to perform the work of employees on strike or locked out.

Exception in cases of threat to life, destruction of property or environmental damage

One important exception in the bill allows employers to use the services of replacement workers under certain conditions to prevent imminent or serious:

  • threat to the life, health or safety of any person;
  • threat of destruction of, or serious damage to, the employer’s property or premises; or 
  • threat of serious environmental damage affecting the employer’s property or premises.

However, according to an adopted amendment, before taking advantage of this exception and using the services of subcontractors, managers or other employees, the employer should have given employees on strike or locked out the opportunity to perform this urgent work.

Earlier coming into force

The amendments adopted by the House of Commons would also bring the new provisions into force 12 months after the date of royal assent. Once in force, they would apply to strikes and lockouts in progress at that time.

Key takeaways

Bill C 58 must still be reviewed and passed by the Senate before receiving royal assent. Changes may therefore still be made.

In their current form, the bill and its amendments considerably extend the prohibitions imposed on federal employers regarding the use of replacement workers in the event of labour disputes. In view of the significant impacts this bill would have on collective labour relations in federal undertakings, we will continue to monitor its progress. 


Senior Partner
Senior Partner

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