The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is actively reviewing all options at their disposal, including legal action, against the PC’s Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which allows the government to impose salary and compensation caps, including for pension and health care improvements, on a variety of unionized and non-unionized public sector workplaces.
“Bill 124 is a direct attack on the collective bargaining rights of every worker in the province,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “The OFL is committed to fight this Bill at every step, and we are reviewing all of our options – both political and legal – including the launch of a Charter challenge.”
“Now that the Bill has passed, I cannot imagine a scenario that does not result in a charter challenge,” said Buckley. “The agreements unions bargain on behalf of their members must be negotiated at the bargaining table, not in the legislature.”
The OFL argues that Bill 124 strips public sector workers of their constitutional rights to free and fair collective bargaining. It also forces front-line workers to accept compensation increases that fall far below the rate of inflation.
Among the workers affected by Bill 124 are those employed by crown agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, non-profit long-term care homes, and children’s aid societies.
“Once again, the government has passed ill-conceived legislation that fails to reflect the realities of life for workers and in communities in Ontario. This Bill will leave workers, their families and communities without the services they depend on.”
The Ontario government spends the lowest amount per person on public services of any province in this country. In 2017, Ontario spent more than $2,000 less on programs per person than the rest of Canada on average. Public sector and private sector wage settlements in Ontario have been below inflation every year for the past ten years.
“Ontario does not have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem,” said Buckley. “Hard-working public sector workers, and the communities in which they live and work are being forced to make sacrifices so that the government can give away benefits to the wealthy. At the same time, the PCs ignore obvious sources of revenue. For instance, this government is giving $3.8 billion in tax breaks to corporations, has lost $3 billion by cancelling cap-and-trade, and has forfeited $275 million in taxes from high-income earners.”
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