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Senator Scott Tannas leads successful Senate amendment to preserve secret ballot vote for union certification


Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – Senator Scott Tannas’s amendments to preserve the requirement for a secret ballot vote for workers seeking to unionize was accepted by the Senate in a vote Tuesday.

Bill C-4 is a government bill that seeks to repeal changes two bills enacted in the last Parliament: Bill C-377 – An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), and Bill C-525 – Employees’ Voting Rights Act.

“I applaud this protection of the right to a secret ballot. It is a great victory for democracy,” said Senator Scott Tannas.

Bill C-4 would replace the mandatory secret ballot vote system required under the current legislation with a card-check system. With a card-check system, a union can be certified without a vote if the bargaining unit demonstrates that it has majority employee support through signed union cards. This system is open to abuse, in which co-workers and other interested parties could pressure employees into signing union cards.

“My amendments to Bill C-4 enhances the democratic rights of Canadian employees of federally-regulated sectors by reinstating a mandatory secret ballot vote to certify a union as a bargaining agent. This is a move that 83% of Canadian unionized workers support,” remarked Senator Tannas.

The amendments passed with the support of Independent and Independent-Liberal Senators, with 43 Senators voting in favor, and 34 against. 

Quick Fact

  • Prior to Bill C-525, there was a card-check system in place to certify a union; to decertify or change unions, the method was a secret ballot vote. Senator Tannas’s amendments ensures the voting method is uniform across all scenarios.

Associated Links

  • Learn more about Bill C-4 using the following link:


For more information, please contact:

Madison Gorsche

Parliamentary Research Assistant

Office of Senator Scott Tannas

Senate of Canada