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Constitutional Challenge to Controversial Wage Cap Bill Begins in Ontario Superior Court

Leaders of several unions challenging Bill 124, a law that caps wage increases for public sector workers like nurses and teachers.

Groups representing thousands of public sector workers in Ontario are in court this week to challenge the constitutionality of a law that has capped wage bumps for public service workers. 

Bill 124, which was passed in 2019, limits wage increases at one percent per year for public service workers in Ontario, including teachers and health care staff. 

The Tories have previously said the move was a time-limited approach to help eliminate the deficit, and the provisions of the bill were to be in effect for three years, as new contracts were negotiated. 

Critics say the bill has been a large factor behind the province's nursing shortage. 

The groups say the bill violates a part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects collective bargaining. 

"ONA will be arguing in Court that Bill 124 violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interfering with the rights of nurses and health-care professionals to freely negotiate a contract," says ONA President Cathryn Hoy, RN. "The government’s draconian wage cap is out of touch with the grave nursing crisis and high demand of health-care professionals during one of the worst pandemics of the last century. The Bill tramples on our members’ rights and has perpetuated discrimination on the grounds of sex against our predominantly female profession - which we say is contrary to the Charter."

Meanwhile, the group representing Catholic teachers says the bill “uses legislative powers to avoid bargaining in good faith the most fundamental term of employment to teachers – the compensation they receive in exchange for their labour.”

Workers gathered on the steps of the Superior Court of Justice this morning, as the Court started to hear the challenge. 

Arguments will be made in court for ten days. 

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