Today, four unions representing Ontario teachers across the province filed court challenges against Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act.
Bill 124, which came into law this past November, stipulates that public sector employees’ annual salary increases will be capped at one per cent per year for three years.
The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) all claim Bill 124 violates their right to collective bargaining.
“Bill 124 violates the democratic rights of all workers in Ontario’s public sector,” ETFO President Sam Hammond said in a news release from the ETFO.
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“No employer should be permitted to undermine employees’ fundamental rights without facing the strongest possible challenge. The Ford government should recognize these rights and repeal Bill 124 immediately,” Hammond continued.
However, in a statement released by the Ontario government, the Province claims this is not the case.
However, the Province disputes this; According to a release from the government, the Bill does not “impede the collective bargaining process.”
“This legislation protects the vital, front-line public services that the people of Ontario depend on every day. We are taking a reasonable, fair and time-limited approach to managing public sector compensation to ensure that we can continue to invest in the key programs that all Ontarians expect and deserve,” Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the Treasury Board, said in a news release from the Province.
The Province has defended the Bill, claiming annual salary increases for public sector employees represent half of all government spending, and cost the taxpayers approximately $72 billion every year.
AEFO President Rémi Sabourin, OECTA President Liz Stuart, and OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof all echo Hammond’s sentiments that the Bill is unconstitutional.
Cover photo courtesy of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association’s Twitter