Ontario Bill 124 will be repealed. This is what happened

The Ontario government has said it will repeal Bill 124, a law that capped pay increases for public sector workers for three years, after a provincial court upheld a ruling that found it unconstitutional.

Here’s a look at how we got here:

What is Bill 124?

He Law to Protect a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations it received royal assent on 7 November 2019. The aim of the bill was to cap public sector wages in an effort to help eliminate the deficit.

Officials argued that the legislation should be “exceptional and limited in duration.”

Who was impacted by this?

Bill 124 affected all public sector workers, such as teachers, nurses, and other public employees.

When did you go to court?

The legislation received a lot of criticism, especially from unions representing public sector workers.

Ten applicants took the case to court, arguing that the bill violated a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining. The province argued that the Charter does not guarantee “unlimited annual raises for public sector workers.”

What happened?

In November 2022, Judge Markus Koehnen released an 80-page decision arguing that House Bill 124 infringes on applicants’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

“The Charter protects not only the right to associate, but also the right to a meaningful process in which unions can bring to the table those issues that concern workers and discuss them in good faith,” Koehnen wrote.

The government immediately said it would appeal the decision in court, arguing that it “erred in holding that the financial impact of the law’s limits on compensation increases substantially interferes with the defendant’s rights to a meaningful collective bargaining process.”

What happened to the appeal?

On Monday, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the workers, finding it violated the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.

ontario court of appeal

“Due to the law, organized public sector workers, many of whom are women, racialized and/or low-income, have lost the ability to negotiate for better compensation or even better working conditions that have no monetary value “, he claimed. the court wrote in its decision.

The court said that while governments can try to maintain compensation increases on a given issue, they cannot override the collective bargaining process.

However, the court said the law is only unconstitutional for workers represented by unions.

Whats Next?

The Ford government said Monday night that it will not file another court appeal. The government said it will take steps to repeal Bill 124 in the coming weeks. He also said he would introduce regulations to exempt non-union and non-union workers from Bill 124 until it is repealed “to resolve worker inequality.”

David Ford

While the case was being heard in court, the government had gradually paid compensation to these workers, who included nurses and teachers, to make up for lost wages.

How much is this?

Premier Doug Ford told reporters that the government has “spent billions” on Bill 124. While the Progressive Conservatives have not assigned a dollar figure to the legislation, a report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario suggests the cost between 2022 and 2028 will amount to about $13.7. billion.

“FAO’s current spending forecast now assumes that all public sector employees, union and non-union, who were subject to Bill 124 will receive salary increases to adjust for the impact of the legislation,” the report says.

“The Province has also recorded a contingent liability of $2.5 billion in the 2022-23 Ontario Public Accounts to recognize the potential impact of retroactive payments.”

In 2022, the FAO predicted the government would have to pay around $8 billion if the court challenge was successful.

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