Government to Broaden Review of Public Services Sustainability Act

Government is referring more sections of the Public Services Sustainability Act to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal for review, including sections that deal with the Public Service Award.

“The initial referral would answer our fundamental question about who has the authority to set public fiscal policy,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Labour Relations.

“We want to resolve this matter quickly and having several different groups challenge the same act would simply drag this process out,” said Mr. Furey. “We believe democratically elected governments should decide what taxpayers can and cannot afford.” 

The Public Services Sustainability Act ensures that third-party arbitrators cannot make decisions about public sector contracts with unions that determine the province’s future. The act was proclaimed on Aug. 22. At the same time, government said it would refer the legislation to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal under the Constitutional Questions Act for an opinion. 

The initial reference question involved sections seven to 19 of act. Government consulted with the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour and, based on its input, has agreed to amend the question to include sections 20 to 23. The remaining sections of the act, sections one to six, are definitions.

“Our position on this legislation has not changed – we still believe this act, in its entirety, will stand up in the courts”, said Mr. Furey.

Legal counsel for the province participated in a conference call with the court at noon today, Oct. 4, to discuss procedural matters. The amended question will be filed in the court immediately.