- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

“I declare the act to be void and of no effect,” Justice Markus Koehnen of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in his decision on Bill 124.
“On my view of the evidence, Ontario was not facing a situation in 2019 that justified an infringement on Charter rights.”

This is the legislation that capped annual public sector wage increases, including nurses, at 1% during COVID. Critics have blamed the cap – far below inflation – for many resignations and early retirements of crucial health care staff. Approximately 700,000 Ontario workers were affected by the law, which unions and labour groups, and now the court, has said infringes on the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Following the decision, Attorney General Doug Downey said the Ford government intends to invest more tax dollars, not paying health care workers for their service, but paying lawyers to appeal the court's decision.

NDP Leader Peter Tabuns said, "My message to Ford is simple: do not appeal this decision."  Liberal interim Leader John Fraser also said in a statement, "Doug Ford needs to accept the court's ruling."

Ontario Greens leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner released the following statement:

“Doug Ford must not waste any more taxpayer money fighting for this terrible piece of legislation.

I call on the government to admit that Bill 124 is unjust and discriminatory and promise not to appeal this decision.

The bill has done incalculable harm to our healthcare system and other public services on which we rely.

It undervalues and disrespects nurses and other frontline healthcare workers and is responsible for much of the current crisis in the province’s hospitals as overstressed nursing and other staff left the sector in droves.

Today’s court ruling confirms what I have been saying since the bill was first proposed – that it is an insult to hard-working provincial workers and that it perpetuates this government’s pattern of belittling the caring professions, where women make up the majority.

It’s time to consign Bill 124 to the dustbin of history and start investing in the people who care for us every day."






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