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Bill 124 ruling upheld by appeal’s court

By Randy Thoms Feb 12, 2024 | 4:38 PM

Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles and labour representatives comment on court Ontario Court of Appeal ruling regarding Bill 124, February 12, 2024. Queen's Park media room screenshot

Ontario’s Court of Appeal is upholding a lower court ruling that struck down Bill 124 as unconstitutional in 2022.

The bill limited wage increases for public sector workers to one per cent.

In its ruling, the Court of Appeal stated, “Ontario has not been able to explain why wage restraint could not have been achieved through good faith bargaining.”

“In the absence of evidence establishing a need to proceed with expediency, it is difficult to see how the Act’s benefits outweigh its substantial impact on the respondents’ collective bargaining rights.”

President of the Ontario Federation of Labour Laura Walton says the Premier needs to do the right thing and actually work for workers.

“To ensure that the funding is in place so that workers who have been harmed by this bill can now see remedy to their paychecks to allow them to continue to do the work and live in dignity. What we need right now is a government that makes life more affordable for Ontarians, not one that holds down the wages of workers,” says Walton.

The Ford government has not tipped its hand if it will take the issue to the Canada Supreme Court.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union president J.P. Hornick says the government has already lost twice in court.

“It’s time to accept. This legislation was wrongheaded from the beginning. Not only was it bad public policy, but it was also grossly inequitable, impacting mostly women and racialized workers,” says Hornick.

Labour blames Bill 124 for the staffing crisis in the public sector.

Opposition parties are also calling on the government to halt the court fight.

“Today’s victory should be a very clear message to the Doug Ford government and the Conservatives. Respect the court’s decision. Drop this appeal. Back off workers. Pay them fairly. Respect them and start actually addressing the crises in healthcare and other public services that Ontarians are facing today,” says NDP leader Marit Stiles.

“What we need to do right now is send a message to those nurses, those educators, those frontline healthcare workers, and all the people who support them, personal support workers, developmental services workers, that they’re valued and that they have rights and that they’re respected,” says Liberal Labour Critic, John Fraser.