TORONTO, February 12, 2024 – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations said the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss the province’s appeal of the controversial and unconstitutional Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—formerly Bill 124—is a win for workers.
“This is a clear victory for Ontario’s public sector workers that comes after years of fighting for our Charter rights to free and fair collective bargaining,” said Nigmendra Narain, OCUFA President. “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal recognized the constitutionality of collective bargaining rights and look forward to continuing to redress the wrongs brought on by this harmful legislation.”
A two-to-one majority of the Court decided the ruling, determining that Bill 124 substantially interfered with workers’ collective bargaining rights. OCUFA member organizations joined an Ontario Federation of Labour-led coalition of over 40 unions representing more than 250,000 public sector workers to bring a successful Charter challenge to the legislation in 2019.
The Coalition argued that the legislation interfered with the rights of workers to free and fair collective bargaining, threatened pay equity and benefits for contract faculty and other marginalized workers, and could erode the foundations of Ontario’s vital public services.
Since the law was declared unconstitutional in 2022 by Justice Markus Koehnen of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, affected workers have successfully bargained and won changes to their collective agreements to redress the wrongs of the law, including restrictions on wage increases during spiking inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government wasted taxpayers’ money and time trying to attack workers with this appeal, when it should be focused on improving workers’ lives after years of pandemic struggles and inflation,” said Jenny Ahn, OCUFA Executive Director. “The government must stop appealing and turn their attention to adequately funding our public sector, including public universities, so that financial remedies can be made. This will also improve student learning conditions in our world-class universities.”
OCUFA encourages eligible faculty member organizations to revisit collective agreements negotiated under the legislation to redress the harms of the law, and will monitor the next steps in this process, including the unfortunate possibility of a government appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 18,000 faculty, academic librarians, and other academic professionals in 31 member organizations across Ontario. It is committed to enhancing the quality of higher education in Ontario and recognizing the outstanding contributions of its members towards creating a world-class university system. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.
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