The Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel (ERFP) has launched a Charter challenge of Bill 124, the wage cap law that effectively cuts its members’ pay for three years.
“This legislation takes away our constitutional right to collective bargaining, free from gender discrimination,” said ERFP President Hillary Campbell, who represents nearly 4,000 education workers, the vast majority of whom are women. “This is not something we can allow to happen. And we won’t.”
ERFP members work as teaching assistants and designated early childhood educators in some 257 elementary and high schools across Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. Every day, they help tens of thousands of children, teens and adult students achieve success in the classroom.
“We love what we do, and we certainly didn’t choose this career to get rich,” said Campbell. “Our average member makes less than $40,000 a year. Many of us live paycheque to paycheque. And as the cost of things like groceries and hydro keeps going up, it’s getting harder and harder every year. With families to support, we just can’t afford to have even less buying power.”
The ERFP Charter challenge asks the Ontario Superior Court to rule Bill 124 unconstitutional and order the provincial government to pay its members for lost wages, damages and court costs.
The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which is affiliated with ERFP, said that the thousands of education workers in both unions have a long history of standing up for their rights – and winning.
“We’ve been down this road before,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “It hasn’t even been 10 years since Ontario’s previous government was ordered to pay out more than $100 million after making the mistake of trying to strip educational workers of their constitutional rights. The exact same thing is going to happen this time.
“The education workers in both of our unions are extremely proud of the work they do supporting students and families,” Thomas added. “OPSEU will always stand strong with them.”