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Teachers’ unions to announce legal challenge against Bill 124 Thursday

Click to play video 'Ontario teachers unions’ launch charter challenges against Ford government’s Bill 124' Ontario teachers unions’ launch charter challenges against Ford government’s Bill 124
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario's four major teachers' unions have launched charter challenges against Bill 124, which they say impedes free collective bargaining.

Ontario’s four teachers’ unions are mounting a legal challenge against a government bill they say impedes free collective bargaining.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO) will make the announcement Thursday morning at Queen’s Park, Global News has learned.

The unions argue Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, is a direct attack on the bargaining rights of workers in the province.

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Bill 124, passed by the government in November, caps public sector raises at one per cent per year and affects more than a million workers at school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, long-term care homes and other organizations.

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“The (Doug) Ford government will stop at nothing to impose its will, if only for ideological reasons,” AEFO president Remi Sabourin said when the bill was passed. “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the right to negotiate a win-win agreement, but Ford and his government are choosing to disregard that right.”

Treasury Board president Peter Bethlenfalvy previously said the bill is “good news for our public sector workers, because we are protecting jobs today.”

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“Taking action to ensure increases in public sector compensation reflect the province’s fiscal reality is part of our government’s balanced and prudent plan,” Bethlenfalvy told the legislature in November.

On Wednesday a government source not authorized to speak publicly told Global News the legislation is legally sound “it enables the government to manage compensation growth in a way that allows for reasonable wage increases, while also respecting taxpayers and the services they rely upon,” the source said.

The province is currently in a bitter labour dispute with all the unions launching the challenge. The OSSTF has said it wants a raise in annual compensation in line with inflation at a rate of two per cent.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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