Secret Lobbying: No Cause of Action

It’s safe to say that BC continues to make labour law headlines. The telus strike and the teacher’s walkout are two big ticket items but there are other low key noteworthy matters that merit attention. One such case is, Paramedical Professional Bargaining Assn v. Health Employers Assn.of British Columbia, 2005 BCCA 42, in which the dispute centers on the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act, SBC 2002, c.2.

The Paramedics filed suit against the Health Employers Association of British Columbia (HEABC) and argued that either before or after bargaining their collective agreement, the HEABC, secretly and without notice to the health sector unions, lobbied the Government to enact the statute, which stopped them from doing their job and could cause medical malpractice cases that everyone try to avoid. The secret lobbying deprived the Paramedics of their negotiating rights, the right to strike, and of their own opportunity to lobby the government. The HEABC responded with a motion to strike the claim on the basis that it disclosed no cause of action.

Madam Justice Southin states:

[8] In my opinion these paragraphs disclose no action known to the common law. That being so, this statement of claim should be struck out under Rule 19(24)(a).

[9] What has caused the trouble here for the union is the Act of the Legislature of British Columbia, a statute duly enacted under the powers conferred upon the Legislature by s. 92 of the Constitution Act.

[10] I know of no authority whatever for the proposition that an action will lie against anyone for attempting to obtain and obtaining legislative intervention for some purpose of his own. Because no such action lies, the question of Weber does not truly arise. It may be, for all we know, that under the Labour Code, the Labour Relations Board would have some jurisdiction in its own mind to address the issues that arose here, because the law under the Code is different from the common law.

The case was dismissed but nevertheless represents a novel legal argument.

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