Legal News

Labour Board Reverses Approach to Certifications for Health Care Contract Service Providers
November 21, 2008

The Labour Relations Board recently changed the law regarding appropriate bargaining unit structures in the health care contract service provider industry. In this industry, the Board now favours separate certifications reflecting independent commercial contracts, over single certifications covering more than one commercial contract.

Pro Vita Care Management provides contracted services to private residential care facilities. The company enters into separate commercial contracts with each of its clients and the terms of these contracts (including conditions of employment for employees) vary. The Hospital Employees’ Union held a certification for care aides employed by the company at one facility. The union applied to vary the certification to include in the bargaining unit employees who worked at two other residential care facilities where Pro Vita provided services.

The original panel of the Board granted the Union’s application for a combined bargaining unit encompassing employees who worked at all three facilities, even though each facility was covered by a different commercial contract.

On reconsideration the Board reversed the original decision and concluded that, in the health care contract service provider industry, “the Board’s general approach will be to issue separate certifications reflecting the commercial contracts.” This is a significant development in the law as the Board’s approach to determining bargaining unit appropriateness has generally favoured multi-site certifications, even if the certification covered more than one commercial contract.

By recognizing that separate certifications are consistent with the site specific commercial contract structure that exists in the health care service provider industry, the Board’s approach should foster success and stability for employers in this industry. At the same time, the Board expressly noted that this new approach will not apply to other industries where collective bargaining structures have successfully encompassed more than one commercial contract without causing industrial instability.

(Click here for link to Decision)