Ontario college staff land retroactive Bill 124 pay after legislation struck down

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RELATED: Billions of dollars are at stake in a three-day hearing at Ontario’s highest court that got underway Tuesday over the province’s controversial wage-limiting law for public sector workers. Global News’ Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello reports. – Jun 20, 2023

Support workers at colleges in Ontario are the latest group to land extra pay after Bill 124 was struck down by a court.

Around 9,000 support staff represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) negotiated a pay increase of 9.5 per cent, backdated over three years, the union said.

The law was introduced by the Ford government to cap public sector wages at one per cent per year over a three-year period. It was struck down as unconstitutional by an Ontario court at the end of 2022, a decision the province is appealing.

An agreement between OPSEU and the College Employer Council (CEC) means support workers will receive three per cent for two years 3.5 per cent. They were previously paid one per cent for each of those years under Bill 124.

“After a prolonged round of bargaining, I am happy to bring a deal to our membership that will help members who are struggling to make ends meet,” Christine Kelsey, bargaining team chair, said in a statement.

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College support workers include administrative assistants, clerical staff and people working in admission offices.

“Support staff are the backbone of the college sector,” Graham Lloyd, CEO of CEC said after the agreement.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Union on wage and benefit increases in recognition of their contributions to the higher education system.”

The pay announcement is the latest in a list of unionized workers able to push for retroactive pay increases since Bill 124 was thrown out.

Earlier in August, college faculty members represented by OPSEU secured an additional 6.5 per cent in salary increases over three years. The group is made up of around 16,000 full-time and partial-load college faculty staff.

Other workers who have received higher wage increases after Bill 124 was overturned include hospital registered nurses, other hospital workers such as dietary aides and personal support workers, and paramedics at the Ornge air ambulance service.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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