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Liberal candidate backs review of replacement worker rules

By: Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | May 23, 2014 - 4:58 PM |
Andrew Olivier, who's running for the Liberals in Sudbury, is calling for a review of labour laws in Ontario allowing companies to use replacement workers during labour disputes. File photo.

Andrew Olivier, who's running for the Liberals in Sudbury, is calling for a review of labour laws in Ontario allowing companies to use replacement workers during labour disputes. File photo.

Andrew Olivier says it's time to take another look at 20-year-old law

If elected, Sudbury Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier says he will push his party to review legislation allowing companies to hire replacement workers during a strike or lockout.

Former Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris passed the Labour Relations Act soon after he was elected in 1995. The act repealed the ban on replacement workers imposed by former NDP Premier Bob Rae a couple of years earlier.


In his news release, Olivier says the strike at Vale in 2009-2010 – “the longest strike in the city’s history” – hurt not only members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, but “the entire community, including local managers, workers, local businesses and families.”

After 20 years, it is time to review the legislation, the release from Olivier says. However, he stops short of calling for the legislation to be repealed.

“I just want to know if it’s working or not, according to business and labour experts,” he's quoted as saying in the release. “My family runs a business and I know we, like many families in the community, felt it financially back in 2009.

“I believe it is time to review how well it’s been working for everyone. I think doing a review is a healthy and positive approach to any issue.”

Olivier says a review may find “a middle ground" that works for both companies and workers.

“I don’t have all the answers,” he says. “But I have questions ... What is being done in other jurisdictions and how is it working? The system has to be fair to companies and fair to the workers, ensuring we don’t go months and months without any tangible negotiations during a labour dispute. That is my end goal.”

While the Tories oppose the ban, New Democrat France Gélinas, the MPP for Nickel Belt, introduced a private member's bill in 2011 that would have banned replacement workers. It failed to pass in the Ontario Legislature.

The provincial election is June 12.

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