Are Mediation and Conciliation the Same?

In Ontario mediation and conciliation are at times interchangeable but are not the same. Conciliation, under the labour relations act, is a process by which a government appointed neutral listens to both sides trying to negotiate a collective agreement to see if a deal can be reached. The conciliator generally tries to mediate the dispute. If they are unable to come to a resolution then they recommend to the Minister of Labour the a no board report be issued. This type of government intervention to prevent strikes and lock outs by mistake (i.e. when the parties positions allow for settlement but they are failing to communicate properly) dates back to William Lyon Mackenzie King when he was the deputy Minister of Labour.

Under section 19(1) of the Labour Relations Act, the parties may request the Minister of Labour appoint a mediator instead of a conciliator. In this case the mediator has a similar function to a conciliator. However in the vast majority of cases, mediators are selected by the parties without the involvement of the Minister of Labour or their ministry.

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