On February 12, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld an earlier decision which struck down the Ontario government’s Bill 124. Bill 124 was enacted by the Ontario Government to cap public sector wage increases at just 1% per year. The Court of Appeal has agreed with the earlier decision, finding the law unconstitutional because it infringed collective bargaining rights.
This means the wage restraint legislation remains invalid for unionized workers, an important win for public-sector workers who were affected by the legislation, including thousands of Society members. Even more importantly, it confirms once again the constitutionally protected right to free collective bargaining.
Since the legislation was struck down, the Society has bargained re-openers with public-sector employers, and achieved new wages increases as a result. However, the fight to ensure the legislation is not reinstated remains critically important.
The Society told members that we would vigorously challenge this assault on the right to free collective bargaining. With our labour partners, we have done so, and have won another victory. It is possible the Ontario Government will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. If so, the Society will continue to fight Bill 124 in court to protect your rights.
The Court of Appeal did find that the Superior Court erred in striking down Bill 124 as it applies to non-union employees, given that they do not bargain collectively, and therefore do not receive the same protection under section of the Charter which guarantees the right to freedom of association. This has no impact on members of the Society or other unionized workers. We regret, of course, the impact on non-unionized workers.
UPDATE Feb 13, 2024:
The Ontario government has announced that it will not seek to appeal the Court's decision to the Supreme Court and will move to repeal Bill 124 in its entirety. The Society is glad to see the government choose to stop unnecessarily wasting public money fighting with workers.
Collective bargaining works. The place to resolve our contract issues is at the bargaining table.