Front-line workers like registered nurse Debra Lefebvre are celebrating, after an Ontario court struck down the ford government’s controversial wage restraint law bill 124.
“I join thousands of nurses on the front line, as well as public sector employees, in celebrating this decision that Bill 124 is unconstitutional and is contrary to the charter of rights and freedom,” said Lefebvre, a board of directors member of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
The bill was introduced in 2019, and saw wage increases capped for hundreds of thousands of workers at 1 per cent per year over a three-year period.
Lefebvre says the fight to overturn bill 124 was about more than money.
“Bill 124 was a slap in the face. It was disrespectful to nurses. At one point the government is saying that we are heroes working during the pandemic with tremendous workloads and so, we see this as a sign, a show of respect,” Lefebvre said referring to the recent court decision.
The response is similar from Andrea Loken the teachers president for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation Limestone District 27.
“We are thrilled that the courts have decided in favour of free collective bargaining. It’s a good day for labour,” said Loken.
The court decision comes as OSSTF members are on the verge of contract negotiations.
“When you tie the hands of the unions, that’s when we get labour disruption. We have a history of no labour disruption when bargaining is free to proceed as it is allowed to under the legislation,” said Loken.
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The Ford government says it plans to appeal the court’s decision to repeal the bill.
It’s a bill many have blamed, in part, for growing nurse staffing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and let’s move on with the business of getting nurses back,” said Lefebvre. “All the nurses that have left, let’s work on retention efforts and let’s get things back to a safe situation.”
It’s not known at this time if back pay will be part of Bill 124’s repeal.
Lefebvre says she Isn’t optimistic based on the provincial governments plan to appeal the court decision.