Doug Ford’s controversial salary cap law ruled unconstitutional

A court has struck down Premier Doug Ford’s controversial Bill 124, which limited most Ontario public sector workers to 1% annual wage increases and has been blamed for the exodus of workers from the health during the pandemic.

A decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Tuesday found that wage restraint legislation passed in 2019 — before COVID-19 emerged — violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“I declare the act null and void,” Judge Markus Koehnen wrote in an 80-page decision.

« In my view of the evidence, Ontario was not faced with a situation in 2019 that warranted a violation of Charter rights, » he added.

« Furthermore, unlike other cases that have upheld wage moderation legislation, Bill 124 sets the wage cap at a rate below which employees would get in free collective bargaining. »

The decision was quickly applauded by unions who launched legal action against the bill, which did not apply to male-dominated fields such as police and firefighting.

“It’s exactly the right decision,” said Karen Littlewood, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. « This was yet another attack on working women in the province, and we have proven it to be unconstitutional. »

She said the decision, which follows the government’s recent repeal of a law that forced CUPE school support staff into contract and preemptively tried to ban them from striking, shows that the government « has was wrong « .

« I think we just have to keep going every time the government introduces this type of legislation that takes away our Charter rights – we have to step up and fight them. »

It has now been a few « bad weeks » for the government, she added.

The Prime Minister’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The lawsuit was launched when dozens of unions went to court earlier this fall. Unions said the law violated a section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees freedom of association.

“The courts told us what we already knew, that Bill 124 was bad,” said interim Liberal Leader John Fraser.

Collective bargaining is protected by the Charter following a 2007 Supreme Court of Canada decision. Lawyers for the Ontario government have challenged the unions’ position that the legislation significantly interferes with collective bargaining.


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