Historically, Kahnawà:ke has had a rich tradition in the construction industry dating back to the early part of the 20th century. Over time, a lot of this experience has been gained through works in the United States, especially notable being a part of the major construction projects of New York City. In spite of this tradition, works within Quebec had become less prevalent over that same period. This separation from Quebec works also extended to the different authorities and agencies overseeing construction in Quebec and how they related to works carried out in Kahnawà:ke and the Mercier Bridge.
In 1981, an inspection attempt by Quebec’s occupational health and safety agency, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) was rejected by Mohawk workers on the Mercier Bridge. The Mohawk workers maintained that the CSST inspector did not have jurisdiction in Kahnawà:ke. In that same year, the CSST commenced an action against two (2) Mohawk Contractors and the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) seeking a provisional (temporary) injunction to permit access to CSST Inspectors on the Mercier Bridge. While the injunction was granted, a further hearing was then to be held for an interlocutory (maintaining the status quo) injunction, but by then Quebec filed a discontinuance of their suit in July of 1981. The Court accepted this discontinuance and the case was closed. Political discussion had brought this about and there was agreement between Kahnawà:ke and CSST to start discussions on the “jurisdictional aspect” of the situation. One of the outcomes from these discussions was the identification of a Mohawk Inspector.
Not having occupational safety and health regulations of their own, the Mohawk Council on April 15, 1982 signed and enacted Mohawk Council Resolution (MCR) No. 2/1982-83. This resolution set the application of the OSHA Safety and Health Standards of the Construction Industry as a rule and regulation by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke. Also, at a subsequent band meeting, the community decided that it was time for the MCK to develop a workers’ compensation program, and in 1984, Mohawk Self Insurance was born.
The political issue over the existence of the MSI Program in Kahnawà:ke resurfaced in 2003 when the CSST began assessing non-local businesses operating in Kahnawà:ke (and paying into MSI) for non-payment of premiums. This situation came to a head when the works on the Mercier Bridge began.
In 2005, the Ministry of Transport declared the MSI Program to be illegal and would no longer be included in any tender documents until an agreement with CSST was concluded.
Although an Agreement between the JCCBI, who were the Federal entity responsible for the Federal portion the Bridge (Part A), the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke and the Government of Quebec was signed in 2007 for the Mercier Bridge Deck Replacement Project, problems developed highlighted by Labor and Union issues.
As per the Agreement, the works on the Mercier Bridge began utilizing Mohawk jurisdiction with the aspects of safety and worker’s injury compensation administered by MCK through the MSI Program and the Community Protection Unit. In spite of this, efforts were made by the CCQ and Ironworkers Local 711 to establish a role for their respective functions with these works. This did not sit well with the community and tensions increased between the workers on the Mercier Bridge and the Quebec institutions governing Labor and Construction. In addition, in 2008, the CSST began assessing to Kahnawá:ke-owned businesses operating in the community. This is when the first discussions of a Labor Agreement began in 2008 and included in Framework Agreement for the Quebec-Kahnawà:ke Relations Table.
In the late summer of 2014, Kahnawà:ke and Quebec signed the current Labor Agreement establishing a framework to develop and implement a Kahnawà:ke Labor Regime which will define the rules governing construction, compensation for industrial accidents and occupational diseases, and occupational health and safety on the Territory.
Also in 2014, the Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 21, An Act respecting the implementation of agreements on Labor matters between the Government of Quebec and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke. As a result, Kahnawà:ke and Québec ( and its labor institutions) also agreed to work together to create a Kahnawà:ke Labor Office to act as the authority in the development and the implementation of the Kahnawà:ke Regime
The KLO was established through Mohawk Council Executive Directive (MCED) #24 2017-18 empowering the KLO to govern over the direction, development and effectiveness in labor matters by overseeing activities, policies, and procedures for the planning and development for all aspects of labor governance within Kahnawà:ke particularly covering construction. The mission of the KLO is to make Kahnawà:ke’s workforce the best while ensuring a fair wage, a safe work environment and the proper treatment of injured workers on the Territory.
The KLO removes and replaces the functions of the CCQ (Commission de la Construction du Quebec), RBQ (Regie du Batiment du Quebec) and Quebec Laws in Kahnawà:ke on Labor Rights, Labor Relations, Vocational Training and Manpower Management in the Construction Industry (commonly referred to as R-20). It also removes and replaces the functions of the CNESST (Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail) in Kahnawà:ke on safety standards and inspection and develop an integrated working relationship with the CNESST on work injury insurance, and rehabilitation.
Kahnawà:ke and Quebec signed a Statement of Understanding and Mutual Respect (June 10, 2009) and a Framework Agreement (July 16, 2009) providing for the negotiation of special agreements in a certain number of fields, including labor.
Negotiations began to define the rules governing construction, compensation for industrial accidents and occupational diseases, and occupational safety and health on the Territory and culminated as Agreement on Employment Injuries and Occupational Health and Safety signed in 2011. Although, the agreement was approved by the Quebec National Assembly, it was never decreed by the Government of Quebec as other issues were identified that needed to be addressed in a revised agreement.
As stated previously, the current Labor Agreement (2014) established a framework to develop and implement a Kahnawà:ke Labor Regime to replace the 2011 Agreement. This Agreement covers the rules governing construction, compensation for industrial accidents and occupational diseases, and occupational health and safety on the Territory. The Kahnawà:ke Labor Regime will define the rules governing construction, compensation for industrial accidents and occupational diseases, and occupational health and safety on the Territory. The Agreement on Labour between the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke and Québec was accepted by Quebec through decree on July 24th, 2014. This Agreement also provided additional rules governing certain aspects of the construction and renovation work on the Kateri Memorial Hospital.
It was expected that after the signing of the 2014 Labor Agreement, there would be administrative agreements between the Kahnawà:ke Labor Office (KLO) and the Commission des normes, de l’équité et de la santé et la sécurité du travail (CNESST). Yet, it became clear that there was a need to develop another complementary “Government to Government Agreement” with Quebec.
It is a requirement in Quebec that all “Government to Government Agreement” must be passed by the Government of Quebec’s Cabinet and any administrative agreements between CNESST and KLO would be considered as such. The present agreement did not include a specific provision to preclude the need to go to Cabinet and stipulate the authority for subsequent administrative agreements between CNESST and KLO without Cabinet approval. In addition, Council indicated that there should be a part of the agreement that ensures the financial security of the MSI Program where Quebec replaces the MSI practice of utilizing a private company to re-insure the claims made to the operation.
As such, the Complementary Agreement for the implementation of the Kahnawà:ke Regime with regard to compensation for victims of industrial accidents and occupational diseases and the protective reassignment for pregnant or nursing worker was negotiated and agreed to by Kahnawá:ke and Quebec in the summer of 2017. This Agreement will continue to implement the Labor Agreement (including the “Re-insurance” concept) without the bureaucratic necessity of going to either the National Assembly or Cabinet.
Listing of Agreements associated with the KLO:
- Agreement on Employment Injuries and Occupational Health and Safety (signed in 2011)
- Agreement on Labour between Kahnawà:ke and Québec. (July 2014)
- Complementary Agreement for the Implementation of the Kahnawà:ke Regime with regard to compensation for victims of industrial accidents and occupational diseases and the protective reassignment for pregnant or nursing workers (agreed to by Kahnawà:ke and Quebec in the summer of 2017). (MCED for Agreement)
For more detail, please refer to the specific Agreements attached to this web-site.
The KLO has initially been established as a component of Operations within the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK). While it does provide services to the community it has regulatory responsibilities and is mandated with the authority and duty to govern over strategy, scope, and standards in labor matters particular to the construction industry. This includes the development and maintenance of Laws and Regulations, Administrative Policy, Procedures and Guidelines.
As the office is still in development, MCED’s will be requested from Chief and Council to provide direction in the key functional areas of operation. These include:
- MCED #24 2017-18 empowering the KLO to govern over the direction, development and effectiveness in labor matters by overseeing activities, policies, and procedures for the planning and development for all aspects of labor governance within Kahnawà:ke particularly covering construction,
- MCR #131 1991-92 empowering the MSI Plan as the community authority for work injury insurance, and rehabilitation,
- MCED #34 2017-18 establishing an MSI Appeals process,
- MCD #60 2017-2018 establishing the Kahnawà:ke Trades Certification Program (KTCP) as the comprehensive process for the certification and qualification of workers and contractors in the Construction Industry on the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke which includes the assessment of workers’ and contractors’ qualifications and issuing certificates of competency. This MCED also rescinded and replaced the two (2) previously established processes for the certification and qualification of workers regarding construction works on the Kateri Memorial Hospital and the Mercier Bridge, namely the Kahnawà:ke Labor Competency Program – KLCP (MCED #72/2014-2015) and the Kahnawà:ke Trades Qualifications Program – KTQP (MCED #51/2015-2016);
The KLO is also in the process of developing a proposed Law that will be introduced to the community in accordance with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke Community Decision Making Process. The timeframe for the introduction of this law has yet to be established.
Please refer to the Contact page for more information: Michael O’Brien, Director.