Ontario government to repeal unconstitutional legislation restricting wages

Man tearing up paper titled Bill 124

February 14 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 JP Hornick, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO). “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.”

Bert Blundon, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), of which OPSEU/SEFPO is a Component, echoed, “The Courts have once again ruled that Ontario Bill 124 is unconstitutional, reaffirming that workers’ rights are a central part of our democracy. The labour movement and our allies across the country can be proud of the commitment, skill and solidarity they demonstrated in defending these rights. We are pleased that the Ford government has now decided to comply with the law.” 

A few hours after the decision was announced, the Conservative government stated it would not appeal the ruling.

History of Bill 124

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”.

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.