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New year brings changes to Sask. essential services legislation

Saskatchewan has fixed a law that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional because it prevented some public-sector employees from striking. File / Global News

REGINA – Changes to the government’s essential service legislation will take effect in the New Year.

Amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act have been a long time coming after being ruled by Canada’s Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 2015.  The legislation originally denied public employees like firefighters and nurses the ability to strike.

Beginning January 1st the legislation will remove the definition of “essential services” and both parties will determine what services are essential to their respective organization.

In a dispute, an independent third-party body will be brought in to help make a decision.

“The amendments to the essential services legislation ensure alternative methods are available to settle workplace disputes,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said.

Other key changes to the legislation include:

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  • Providing for binding mediation-arbitration when an essential services agreement is found to interfere with a strike or lockout.
  • Changing the cooling-off period from 14 days to seven days
  • Establishing a maximum of 60 days for binding mandatory mediation, unless both parties agree to longer

The new legislation received Royal Assent on November 19th.

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