In Canada, labour is under Provincial jurisdiction. The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development governs relationships between employees, employers, and unions. Labour organizing has been central to many of the rights and freedoms most workers are now entitled to, including a 5-day work week, an 8-hour day, employment insurance, health and safety regulations, and parental benefits. Every worker in Canada is entitled to join or form a union or professional association to protect themselves from exploitative employers or improve work conditions, though many workplaces misclassify their workers as “contractors” to avoid their legal obligations to offer fair pay and safe working conditions.
What is the difference between a Union and a Professional Association?
There are many scholarly debates about the nature of labour relationships, and what is precisely meant by the terms Professional Association, Regulatory Body, Bargaining Unit, Trade Union, or Collective in each situation. In Ontario, Union and Trade Union are terms that have a specific legal definitions.
A union is a legal entity that is registered with the Provincial Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development, to act as the Bargaining Unit of a specific group of Employees. Every worker in Canada is entitled to join or form a union, to protect themselves from exploitative employers or improve work conditions.
A professional association can be a legal entity and can have many roles and responsibilities. Many professional associations are primarily concerned with professional development and internal standards, but some also act as a bargaining unit.
A Bargaining Unit refers to a group of Employees and/or their legal representation, such as their Union, who engages in negotiations with the Employer, especially in regards to contracting.
For example, IATSE is a union, whose actions are governed by the provincial labour board, and whose Locals have exclusive right to act as the sole Bargaining Unit for Employees, once Certified by the Labour Board in regards to that Employer.
PACT is a Professional Association, representing Canadian Theatre companies, collectives, and other organizations, whose Labour Relations department negotiates collective agreements with other Professional Associations, including the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC-IATSE), L'association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec(APASQ), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA), and Playwrights’ Guild of Canada (PGC), on behalf of their membership.
In Canada, in regards to performing arts, the significant organizations producers will work with include IATSE, PACT, ADC, CAEA, and PGC, as well as the Canadian Federation of Musicians.
For Performance Artists
- Canadian Actor's Equity Association
- Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists
- American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
- Toronto Musicians Association
For Performance Rights
- Playwrights Guild of Canada
- Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN)
- Canadian League of Composers
For Designers, Technicians & Craftspeople
- Associated Designers of Canada. As of January 2021, ADC will join IATSE to form its own IATSE Local Union, called IATSE Local ADC 659.
- L'association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec]
- More clarity on "What Unions Do" (by Canadian Labour)
- A History of Labour in Canada
- The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development Website - this ministry governs relationships between employees, employers, and unions.
- Information on How to Form a Union by CUPW, or How to start a Union article by Vox]
- Reference Employee Standards Act or check out Employee vs Contractor to help determine your employee status