Ontario teachers unions to challenge law limiting public sector wage increases

Four of Ontario’s biggest education unions are launching court challenges to provincial legislation that limits public sector wage increases.

At a news conference Thursday morning at Queen’s Park, the heads of the four unions said that Bill 124 infringes on their charter-protected rights to collective bargaining.

The Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, passed this fall, caps public sector wage hikes at an average of one per cent annually for the next three years.

It applies to colleges, universities, school boards, hospitals, the public service and children’s aid societies, among other bodies.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government passed the law as contract talks were just starting, and the unions say it was an extraordinary interference in the bargaining process.

At the time, various public sector unions vocally condemned the legislation. In a November statement, a coalition of unions said the bill “tramples on collective bargaining rights and targets public sector workers with unfair austerity measures for the next three years.”

“The legislation ensures that compensation for educators and other public sector workers will continue to fall behind the rate of inflation.”

The following education unions will launch their own challenges:

  • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
  • Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
  • Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.
  • Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens.

The paperwork for the legal challenges will be filed Thursday afternoon, the unions said.

Public high school teachers at nine Ontario boards held a second one-day strike on Wednesday, with the union blaming the provincial government for failure to reach a resolution in contract talks.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce, meanwhile, has accused the union of digging in its heels and being unreasonable in its bargaining.

The two parties haven’t held talks since last week, but on Wednesday afternoon, the government and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation confirmed they would hold new talks early next week.


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