Yesterday, the Ontario Government brought forward legislation that will freeze compensation and benefits for all those in the broader public sector, including all staff at universities and colleges, for two years. It also imposes a permanent salary cap for all in the public sector and limits the powers of the labour relations board, arbitrators and even the courts.
In many ways, it parallels the legislation brought in previously that did the same thing for Ontario’s elementary and secondary teachers.
The government’s intervention to block free collective bargaining is harmful in itself, but the new legislation raises an important constitutional question – whether it denies a fundamental Charter right. This is an issue of concern to all our members because if the Ontario Government can get away with this harmful intervention, there are other provincial governments that likely will follow suit.
We are consulting top constitutional and labour law experts in preparation for launching a challenge to yesterday’s legislation in court, as well as intervening in the challenge that four unions are bringing to the earlier bill regarding teachers.
A copy of yesterday’s bill can be found at http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/savings/protecting.html.