POLITICS

Saskatchewan New Democrats criticize the revamping of province's labour laws

07/31/2012 10:53 EDT | Updated 09/30/2012 05:12 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan's official opposition is ringing the alarm bell once again ahead of the deadline for the government's comprehensive and controversial plan to revamp labour laws.

The Saskatchewan Party government will stop accepting written submissions on its review of the province's 15 separate labour laws as of midnight Wednesday.

It marks the end of a three-month window opened by the government for businesses, unions, and workers to offer their thoughts on how labour laws should change.

The government has stated that it hopes to create one over-arching labour code that will unify the 15 separate bills that currently govern different aspects of labour.

At the legislature Tuesday, the NDP held a news conference to present its plan of action moving forward.

Labour critic David Forbes says the fact that the government has only allowed written submissions borders on indecent, given some of the more extensive public consultation efforts that have happened on other topics.

"They did more work on math curriculum, they did more work on minor football than they're doing on this, which is probably one of the most significant parts of their role as government," Forbes told reporters.

The NDP cites a so-called "decency principle" mentioned by the Federal Labour Standards Commission, insisting that the federal Conservative government used it as a benchmark when reviewing federal labour standards.

Forbes says public meetings need to take place and since the government doesn't seem to be moving in that direction, the NDP will hold its own consultations this fall and submit their findings in the legislature.

Labour Minister Don Morgan insists stakeholders are getting a fair shake when it comes to the government's labour review. He noted they've received more than 2,000 written submissions.

"We indicated to people they could do it on things that weren't in the paper," said Morgan.

He added that if the NDP were really concerned, they could have acted earlier.

"I think its politics on the part of the opposition they could have done a process if they chose to. If they wanted it to be meaningful they should have done it last month or the month before, or the month before that," said Morgan.

The government is relenting in one area the NDP criticized -- instead of keeping all the submissions private, the government will be posting them on-line.

(CJME)