Ontario unions win Bill 124 legal challenge

TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In an important victory for Ontario workers, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has struck down Bill 124 in its entirety. The court struck down the bill on the basis that it violates the fundamental constitutional rights to collectively bargain and to strike - constitutional rights recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Today’s decision affirms what we have known all along - Bill 124 is a blatant attack on fundamental trade union rights,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. “That is why the Ontario Federation of Labour, as part of a coalition of over 70 unions, launched this Charter challenge.”

Bill 124 was introduced by Ford’s Conservative government in 2019. The wage restraint legislation capped public sector compensation at one per cent. Workers have repeatedly pointed to the devastating impacts of the bill, many of which were echoed in the court’s findings.

“The court found that Bill 124 had a severe impact on workers’ living standards and a devastating impact on the ability of employees to exercise their constitutionally protected right to bargain collectively in order to improve their compensation and working conditions,” added Coates. “Given the thoroughness of the court’s reasons, we expect that the government and public sector employers will now take swift action to redress the severe harms that continue to be caused by Bill 124.”

As Steven Barrett, counsel for the OFL Coalition stated, “the court’s reasons also thoroughly debunk the government’s argument that the wage controls were in any way justified, particularly in view of the various tax cuts implemented by the Ontario government, the absence of any fiscal crisis, and the serious impact on workers of the 1% wage controls, including in the face of significantly higher inflation and widespread recruitment and retention challenges.”

Coates added, “once again, we have demonstrated that when workers unite to defy unjust legislation, we win.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:
Melissa Palermo
Communications Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
mpalermo@ofl.ca | 416-894-3456