Stephen McNeil and the Nova Scotia Liberals are at it again, passing the latest Bill in what has been a year-long legislative campaign against the rights of workers in the province. On the heels of Bill 1, which removed the effective right to strike in the homecare sector, and bill 37, which sought to remove the right of healthcare workers to choose the union they belong to, the government has just passed Bill 100.
Bill 100 Suspends Collective Bargaining and Removes the Right to Strike
This Bill allows universities to engage in a “revitalization process” during which time the right to strike is removed and there is a ban on signing collective agreements. Amazingly, the Minister has claimed that the government is confident Bill 100 doesn’t violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Welcome to Nova Scotia, Canada’s “ocean playground” where the right to strike and to enter into a collective agreement are not contained in the Charter.
Perhaps it would be more reflective of reality if we changed the license plates to read “Canada’s ocean playground for the wealthy and their political cronies in the legislature.”
Selling out Higher Education to Corporate Interests
According to the Dalhousie University Faculty Association (DFA), the “revitalization plan” would give the Minister the power to attach conditions to university grants that will override job security protections and impose government priorities for teaching and research, including “turning research into business opportunities.” The DFA goes on to say that legislation could also prevent faculty from exercising their academic freedom, especially if they oppose or criticize administration or government action.
What About the Students?
When taken in context with the other austerity measures in the recent Liberal Budget, the Bill also sets the table for significant tuition increases, removes control of academic matters out of the hands of educators and places it into the hands of government and administrators, and tilts research towards corporate interests as opposed to academic interests. Needless to say, student groups are up in arms.
The Liberal Austerity Agenda
It is clear that the Nova Scotia Liberals have adopted the austerity approach of the Harper conservatives. An approach that favours attacks on workers’ rights, cuts to vital programs that benefit all society, attacks on the poor, and corporate giveaways, as opposed to a wage-led economic growth that would foster equality and benefit the majority of society.