Victory: International student workers allowed to participate in union life

In an unprecedented ruling, the Superior Court has decided in favour of PSAC in our challenge of the Professional Syndicates Act (PSA) provisions that excluded non-Canadian citizens. 

The provisions in question prevented non-Canadian citizens from working for, or sitting on the boards of, PSA-registered unions. This exclusion affected our university members in particular, since a large number of them are international students. 

“This is another key victory in our efforts to represent our members justly and fairly,” said Yvon Barrière, PSAC-Quebec’s Executive Vice-President. “Members who don’t yet have their citizenship can now participate fully in union life and enjoy its advantages.”

The Court ruled that the challenged provisions were unconstitutional, invalid and inoperative because they infringed on the right of equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It confirmed that lack of citizenship is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Charter. 

Importantly, the Court also noted that [TRANSLATION] “union membership is an inherent part of the job and an essential component of Canadian society.” Workers who don’t yet have citizenship must be allowed to participate fully in Canadian society without feeling excluded in their jobs. 

The Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for 12 months so that the legislator would have time to react. If no legislative amendment is introduced, the PSA provisions excluding non-Canadian citizens will simply be struck out.