TORONTO – The Ontario Public
Service Employees Union is calling on Finance Minister Dwight
Duncan to get a ruling on the legality of his proposed public
sector wage freeze legislation prior to passing it into law.
On Sept. 26, Duncan announced
the Liberal government would propose legislation that would
impose a wage freeze on nearly 500,000 public sector workers,
legislation that even Duncan admits may be unconstitutional.
"There's constitutional risk with this, there's no question,"
Duncan said after unveiling details of the draft legislation.
OPSEU President Warren
(Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the government get a stamp of
approval from Ontario Court instead of passing a law that could
well be illegal.
“Every citizen in Ontario,
whether they belong to a union or not, should be extremely
fearful of a government that would try to pass a law that they
themselves admit may be unconstitutional,” Thomas said. “This
draft legislation is an attack on the democratic process in this
province, and it seems that Duncan and the Premier are declaring
themselves to be above the law. All Duncan has to do is get a
judge to rule on this beforehand. Instead, he will wind up
spending millions in taxpayer money trying to defend the law
after the fact.”
Thomas said that this has all
the hallmarks of a government that is acting in desperation, and
is appalled that the McGuinty Liberals would act so recklessly
to a threat that hasn’t even manifested itself yet.
“Our members fully understand
the economic situation we are in,” Thomas said. “No one is
making any exorbitant demands. Yet before negotiations ever take
place, the government wants to pass a law that freezes wages,
virtually nullifies the right to strike and that gives them the
ability to impose contracts. And Duncan doesn’t even know if
it’s legal. Frankly, that should scare the hell out of anyone
who lives or does business in this province.”