The BC Labour Relations Board has issued a decision dealing with an issue arising as a result of the designation of essential services in the health sector under Part 6 of the Labour Relations Code. Collective Agreements between the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (“HEABC”) and a number of health sector unions expired on March 31, 2004. In anticipation of a potential labour dispute between these parties, the Minister of Skills Development and Labour directed the Board to designate essential services.
As a result of the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, a number of HEABC members have contracted out non-clinical services such as laundry, food services, and housekeeping. The Board was asked to determine whether such contractors and their employees who provide services at health care employer sites should be included in the essential services designation process.
The Board found that it did not have the authority to designate essential services provided by third parties uninvolved in a potential labour dispute. The Board’s decision was based on its findings that:
- there was no labour dispute between the contractors and their employees or unions representing those employees; and
- there was no ministerial direction to designate essential services with respect to services provided by the contractors and their employees.
Absent the above considerations, the Board ruled that it does not have the jurisdiction to include contractors and their employees within the scope of the essential service designations.