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The tortuous legislative trajectory of the anti-union financial disclosure measure, C-377, took a highly atypical turn on June 30th when Conservative Senators, in defiance of their own speaker, forced the bill to a vote just before the upper house recessed. The controversial bill passed 35-22.
BAC, in solidarity with Canada’s Building Trade Unions (CBTU) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has consistently opposed the measure that would force unions – and no other similar organizations – to disclose all their financial information to employers and the general public. Says BAC Canadian Director Craig Strudwick, “The true intent of C-377 is to weaken unions by imposing a series of expensive and onerous reporting requirements. Plus, a lot of people don’t realize how much it will cost taxpayers.”
C-377 amends the Income Tax Act to require that all labour organizations provide financial information to the Canadian Revenue Agency for public disclosure. Unions, associations, and even district labour councils, will have to give detailed reports of their assets and liabilities as well as recording all expenses of $5,000 or more, including who received the payment and why. The salaries of union employees making $100,000 or more will also become public information.
Many legal experts agree with labour leaders that the measure, which strains the boundaries of federal tax law, is open to a constitutional challenge. Besides a potential legal challenge, the bill could become a part of a potent political currency, along with other anti-union policies, that will play out during the run up to Canada’s general election on October 19th.