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Court Challenge Update – Bill 124: Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act

Labour laws text

Bill 124 was introduced in the Ontario legislature on June 5, 2019, and came into force on November 8, 2019. Bill 124 restricts compensation growth within the public and broader public sectors.

Bill 124’s restrictions apply for a period of three consecutive years (known as the “moderation period”). The compensation limit of 1% for every 12-month period is the most important restraint under Bill 124. It requires that compensation does not increase on average for employees by more than 1% in every consecutive 12-month period during the moderation period.

For unionized employees, the moderation period begins automatically from the first day of the first collective agreement negotiated after June 5, 2019. For OSSTF/FEESO, this means that for all bargaining units under the School Board Collective Bargaining Act (SBCBA) where the first day of the centrally negotiated Collective Agreement was Sept 1, 2019, the moderation period ended on September 1st, 2022. The next Collective Agreement under the SBCBA, therefore, will be negotiated without the restrictions to compensation under this particular Bill.

However, for any bargaining units in OSSTF/FEESO who are not governed by the SBCBA, such as universities (District 35) and members of the Transportation Consortia, this moderation period may not yet be over depending on when their Collective Agreements were negotiated. District 34 is not affected by this legislation.

When the government passed Bill 124, OSSTF/FEESO, along with other affiliates in the Education sector, nurses’ unions, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, and UNIFOR coordinated by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) filed a Charter challenge, alleging the law violates public sector workers’ right to collective bargaining. The coalition represents over 40 Ontario unions and around 270,000 employees.

“The legislation undermines the right to free bargaining, which the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly held is protected by s. 2(d) of the Charter, the freedom of association,” says Steven Barrett, lead counsel to the OFL coalition and managing partner of Goldblatt Partners LLP.

Hearing dates are scheduled for September of 2022 and a decision is expected in early 2023

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