Lack of Transparency, Accountability at Labour Relations Board Creates "Crisis in Confidence"

EDMONTON-The AFL today released a study conducted by Dr. Lorne Sossin, Associate Dean of Law at the University of Toronto, examining the conduct of the Alberta Labour Relations Board in the wake of the Bill 27 controversy. Dr. Sossin's report, called The Independent Board and the Legislative Process (Read the Report here), assesses the actions of LRB officials during and since Bill 27, and compares Alberta to other jurisdictions in Canada.

Sossin's Report has three key findings:

  1. The undisclosed involvement of the Board Chair in a legislative process is "problematic and damaging".
  2. Other jurisdictions hold their LRBs to a higher standard than Alberta does.
  3. The Board failed to ensure proper transparency for its actions, which undermined the integrity of the Board among its stakeholders.

"Dr. Sossin's report articulates very clearly that the Alberta Labour Relations Board failed in a number of serious respects to uphold its obligations for transparency, impartiality and integrity," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "These findings are serious and require immediate attention by the LRB and the Alberta government to address shortcomings identified by Dr. Sossin."

Sossin's report was commissioned by the AFL in March, following the release of memos indicating that senior LRB officials participated in the drafting of Bill 27. Bill 27 was legislation forcing the amalgamation of bargaining units in health care and removing basic legal rights from many health care workers. It is generally considered inappropriate for officials who will be charged with interpreting and enforcing legislation to participate in its creation.

The report has three key recommendations. First, it suggests that if the Alberta government wants the LRB to play a role in drafting legislation, it should say so in the Labour Relations Code. Second, the LRB should develop a protocol to protect the integrity of its proceedings. This protocol should include transparency to all parties when officials participate in legislation, and such officials should recuse themselves from hearing cases related to the legislation in question. Third, no member of the LRB should have a secret role in drafting legislation.

"The recommendations would go some distance to repairing the damaged reputation of the LRB," says McGowan. "We are open to discussing with LRB officials establishing an appropriate protocol to protect the integrity and impartiality of the Board."

The AFL calls upon LRB Chair Mark Asbell to move forward with the recommendations of Dr. Sossin's report. It is also looking for an open process for establishing protocols.

"The Bill 27 scandal has created a crisis in confidence between the labour movement and the LRB. This is an opportunity to begin the work of repairing the damage. But the ball is now in Mr. Asbell's court," McGowan concludes.

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For more information call:

Gil McGowan, AFL President  @  (780) 218-9888 (cell)


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