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Union leaders celebrate Ontario court decision

labor protest ontario
Canadian Union of Public Employees
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An Ontario judge has ruled that an Ontario law that caps wagers in the public sector infringes on the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining

Bill 124 came into effect in 2019 and effectively held wage increases for public sector workers to one per cent a year for three years. Groups representing tens of thousands of public employees went to court arguing that the law violates sections of Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining.

Within the past week, an Ontario court judge handed down an 80 page decision striking down Bill 124 saying it does infringe on the applicants rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Unions for health care workers say the bill should be repealed immediately because it is contributing to the nursing shortage in Ontario with workers in the sector leaving in droves as many have reached the breaking the point.

 “It’s time this government pays attention to what the courts are saying, to what labour is saying, to what workers are saying and to what Ontarians are saying which is just leave our charter of rights and freedoms alone and govern without stripping workers of these rights, " said Noureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director for Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union.

The government of premier Doug Ford says it will appeal the ruling.

In the court proceedings, Ontario countered union claims by insisting the bill does not interfere with the ability to bargain for job security, benefits and seniority. At the time it was first enacted, the Ontario government claimed Bill 124 was being put in place to help eliminate the province’s deficit.

Opposition lawmakers have urged the government not to appeal and instead to work with the unions to come to an agreement.