CRARR ASKS QUEBEC GOVERNMENT TO END DISCRIMINATION IN PROFESSIONAL SYNDICATES ACT
Montreal, October 22, 2015 — CRARR has formally asked the Quebec Government to amend the Professional Syndicates Act in order to eliminate provisions in the law that discriminate against non-citizens.
CRARR recently discovered explicitly discriminatory sections of this law, which was originally adopted in 1924. The law states, “only Canadian citizens may be members of the administrative council of a syndicate or form part of its personnel”. It also states that the enterprise registrar can order the termination of a union or association in which “the number of their members who are Canadian citizens and in good standing is reduced to less than 15 in the case of a syndicate and to less than three in the case of a union, federation or confederation.”
The Professional Syndicates Act enables many labor unions and nonprofits to incorporate.
In a letter addressed to the Hon. Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and the Hon. Kathleen Weil, Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion, CRARR asks the Quebec Government to act as rapidly as possible to end obstacles in employment and participation in associations for Quebec’s permanent residents.
“We are very surprised to discover that in 2015, such discriminatory legislative processions still exist despite numerous amendments to the law through the years,” noted CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi. “These statutory restrictions constitute an affront to Quebec democratic life, a violation of Charters of Rights and Freedoms and a deplorable contradiction to Quebec laws and policies on integration and employment equity”.
CRARR made this surprising discovery while assisting an immigrant woman of Haitian background. As a permanent resident with more than 10 years of life and studies in Quebec, this woman was fired from a position in finance with a major provincial association on the grounds that she did not possess Canadian citizenship. CRARR has filed, on her behalf, a complaint of discrimination with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
In 1989, the Supreme Court, in the Andrews case, struck down the requirement that lawyers admitted to the B.C. Bar be Canadian citizens on the basis that it violated s. 15 (the “Equal Protection” Clause) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The citizenship requirement was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter (known as the “reasonable limit” clause).
“These provisions in the Professional Syndicates Act legalize discrimination, with state support. A permanent resident can work for the Quebec Government or a municipal administration but ironically, he or she cannot work for a labor union. Labor unions and other associations have a duty to fight these provisions and have them declared unconstitutional,” suggests Mr. Niemi.
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