Workers’ victory against Ford is ‘only the beginning’ – OPSEU/SEFPO


Toronto, Feb. 12, 2024 – Workers are claiming victory today as the Ontario Court of Appeal upholds the previous Superior Court finding that the Ford Government’s Bill 124 was unconstitutional.

“Bill 124 was just one part of Premier Ford’s systematic suppression of workers’ rights and his undermining of the public services we all rely on. I’m relieved by the Court’s decision, but our fight doesn’t stop here. This is only the beginning,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “Today’s victory is a reminder of who has the real power of a majority in this province: Ontarians and working people. Not the Premier or his government.”

The union is urging the Premier not to appeal the decision and continue to fight frontline workers in court. An attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada could drag on for years, which the union argues would be a waste of public funds as two levels of Court have already deemed the government’s wage restraint legislation to be unconstitutional.

“The government needs to accept that this legislation was wrong from the beginning and instead focus on fixing the harms they have caused. We have a recruitment and retention crisis across the public service and staffing crises in many sectors, including our public health care system,” said Hornick.

Bill 124, originally passed in 2019, capped wage increases for public sector workers at 1% despite rising inflation and a cost-of-living crisis. The bill affected more than 90% of OPSEU/SEFPO’s members and impacted mostly women and racialized workers.

OPSEU/SEFPO and many other unions launched Charter challenges in 2020. The Ontario Superior Court struck down Bill 124 in November 2022, declaring it “void and of no effect”.

“It’s time for this government to respect the collective bargaining process and the rights of the workers who keep this province running. Our members are worth more and deserve better,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell.

Since the Superior Court’s decision, many OPSEU/SEFPO units across multiple sectors (including the Ontario Public Service, the broader public service, and universities and community colleges) have been awarded or negotiated compensation increases well above the restrictions imposed by Bill 124. These awards and agreements recognized the adverse impacts of inflation on workers and the serious recruitment and retention crises.

The union urges the government to accept this ruling of Ontario’s highest court, respect the collective bargaining process and provide the funding necessary for fair wage increases for all workers.