Ontario passes bill to cap public sector wage increases at one per cent

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TORONTO — Ontario’s teachers are preparing to challenge the government in court over a new law that caps all public sector wage increases.

It limits those increases to one per cent a year for the next three years, which Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy calls a “fair and time-limited approach” to eliminating the deficit.

More than a million public sector workers would be affected by the bill, which applies to employees at school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, long-term care homes and other organizations.

Shortly after it passed in the legislature Thursday evening, the four major unions representing high school, elementary, Catholic and French teachers in the province issued a joint statement.

The unions are all currently in negotiations with the government for new contracts, and they say it tramples on collective bargaining rights.

They say that the passage of the legislation all but shatters any prospect of good faith bargaining, and they are preparing a court challenge.

“The (Doug) Ford government will stop at nothing to impose its will, if only for ideological reasons,” the president of the French teachers’ union, Remi Sabourin, said in the statement.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the right to negotiate a win-win agreement, but Ford and his government are choosing to disregard that right.”

Although the bill passed Thursday evening, it is retroactive to June 5, when it was first announced.

Most of the province’s teachers are already gearing up for a potential strike, as they say even at the bargaining table there is no real movement.

Elementary and high school teachers could be in a legal strike position later this month, and teachers in the English Catholic system are in the process of holding strike votes.

A strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ 55,000 education workers was narrowly averted last month after they reached a deal that includes one per cent salary increases for three years. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the other unions should be reasonable like CUPE.

The government said the wage cap bill respects the bargaining process, and noted that it still allows for employees to get raises for seniority, performance or increased qualifications.

“Taking action to ensure increases in public sector compensation reflect the province’s fiscal reality is part of our government’s balanced and prudent plan,” Bethlenfalvy said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2019.

The Canadian Press

20 COMMENTS

  1. I thought I would have liked Doug Ford because his brother was a very honest mayor and spoke out against free perks politicians were getting.. on the positive side Doug did fight against the carbon tax and ended the beer store monopoly. I would sooner vote PC if they got their shit together and not go against when the north wants something. I voted for Northern Ontario Party last time instead of Romano and glad I did. Romano, why were you absent during the vote on improving maintenance on northern highways? Ford was also absent. I think Romano was absent because he didn’t want to face the choice of taking the whip from his party or upset his supporters. The reason I support northern Ontario party is because I don’t have much confidence in Toronto politicians no matter what party. They turn out to be all the same, little attention to what the north wants. I did think Orazietti did something though, he fought to get the spring bear hunt back and I realize he was strong compared to Romano who showed weakness by being absent

  2. I would sooner vote for them if they actually cared for the north. I have been supporting northern Ontario party and I have voted NDP in the past to get Harris out. My first time voting was when the liberals beat Harris in Ontario in 2003. Harris was the one who canceled the spring bear hunt to try to get votes in the south and of course in 1999 it worked for Harris to marginalize the north

  3. As a former teacher I am all for everyone giving a little to get the provincial finances under control. But how is it fair to limit public workers to 1% increases when the top earning officials in the Ford government just got a 14% raise? If this is truly about what’s best for the people, shouldn’t it start from the top? Why hasn’t Ross Romano spoken out about protecting the people he says he serves?

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