Ontario court strikes down Bill 124

An Ontario court has struck down a controversial bill that limited the wages of public sector workers.

Several unions and workers affected by Bill 124 have opposed legislation that took effect in 2019 and limits wage increases to 1% per year for three years.

The government had said the bill was a time-limited approach to help eliminate the province’s deficit.

Judge Markus Koehnen said in his ruling on Tuesday that the law infringes the plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, according to The Canadian Press.

Last September, groups representing thousands of public sector employees went to court to challenge the constitutionality of the bill.

The groups argued that the bill violates a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining.

The province, however, argued that the bill does not impede the groups’ ability to negotiate job security, benefits and seniority.

In reaction to the court’s decision today, Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, tweeted that it will ‘seek remedies for affected members’.


The court’s decision comes after frontline healthcare workers staged a rally outside Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon to continue their fight for better wages and more staff to deal with the hospital crisis in courses in the province.

“It’s been three long years… We’ve been overworked and it’s been consistent. We were short. You know, it’s been tough,” operating room assistant Sherica Washington said.

Dozens of workers attended the rally outside the hospital, including licensed practical nurses, personal support workers, dietetics, housekeeping, sterilization staff, porters and the office staff.

An Ontario court has struck down a Ford government bill that limited wages for public sector workers. (The Canadian Press)

Workers could be heard chanting “kill this bill” and waving flags and signs saying “Respect us. Protect us. Pay us.

The union that represents them, SEIU Healthcare, organized the protest to reiterate their calls for action against Bill 124.

“I just think we need respect. Like a 24 cent an hour increase after what we’ve been through with COVID, the last three years have been horrible. And they say they’ll give us 24 cents. Come on,” Paul Johnson, a personal support worker, told CP24.

Union leaders spoke at the rally and urged the government to drop the bill so the union could negotiate fair pay for its members.

seiu healthcare 1 6173676 1669755200703Members of the SEIU Healthcare union demonstrate outside Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on November 29, 2022.

“Remember when Ford called you heroes? What is he doing? His government introduces and passes Bill 124, which now prevents you from getting this hero’s pay and crushes your ability to bargain fairly,” said SEIU Executive Vice President Mina Amrith.

Additionally, the SEIU and other concerned unions have said the bill should be repealed now because it contributes to a severe shortage of nurses.

“Everyone has been reduced. People are leaving in droves. Patients aren’t getting the care they’re supposed to get with fewer of us there,” said licensed practical nurse Tanya Rahim-Juttlah.

“You can’t take a lot. Everyone has a breaking point. Every healthcare worker here is at a breaking point and people are deciding if I should stay? Should I go there? she added.

The SEIU is also calling on the government to increase frontline staff to deal with rising waiting times, invest new funds in public hospitals and restrict the use of private health care.

According to the SEIU, recent reports indicate that Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center had the second longest wait times, followed by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“We are not failing here. It’s Doug Ford and his plan that fail. Each of us, we are not being treated with the respect, protection and pay that we deserve and so today we are saying enough is enough,” said Sanjay Thapa, SEIU Chief Shop Steward.

doug ford 1 6122569 1666636113888Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones answer questions after touring the COVID-19 testing center in Toronto’s Pearson Terminal 3 on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Over the past month, several hospitals across the province have warned patients of rising wait times and some have canceled or reduced non-emergency surgeries due to increased demand linked to an increase in flu cases, RSV and COVID-19.

The rally comes nearly a week after leaders of five of Ontario’s largest health care unions, including the SEIU, appealed to Doug Ford’s government saying their plan is « failing miserably. »

The Ontario government said it would add up to 6,000 additional health care workers and free up 2,500 hospital beds as part of its health system stabilization plan released in August.

The plan also included investment in private clinics that can offer OHIP-covered surgeries and legislation that would free up acute care beds by moving seniors to long-term care homes, which will not be theirs. choice.

With files from The Canadian Press


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