TORONTO – CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn called the ruling by Justice Koehnen to strike down Bill 124 “a victory for Ontario’s workers, who have been fully vindicated by this clear decision.” The ruling finds that Bill 124 violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to free collective bargaining, as guaranteed under the Charter right to freedom of association.
“The decision reaffirms that workers’ rights are human rights, protected by law,” said Hahn, who also urged the Ford government to “think very hard before appealing this decision.”
Hahn made his comments this morning at a joint news conference organized at Queen’s Park by the Ontario Federation of Labour. The event gathered leaders from the coalition of unions that had launched the legal challenge to Bill 124 and provided them the opportunity to share responses and reactions to the decision. Hahn offered the following remarks:
“This decision affirms and upholds the right to free collective bargaining. It is a thorough, thoughtful, and detailed decision that renders Bill 124 null and void and carefully outlines every aspect of why there was simply no reason, and no defence, for this unconstitutional intrusion against worker’s rights.”
Today’s news conference also coincided with the National Day of Action for Child Care and Hahn referenced these workers first when he spoke of the CUPE members who had been affected by Bill 124.
“Childcare workers are some of the hundreds of thousands of workers whose rights were violated by Bill 124… [along with] education workers in schools; mental health and addictions workers; housing and shelter workers and so many others who make up our social safety net; our members throughout healthcare, including those caring for our parents and grandparents in long-term care; and those delivering instruction and ensuring safe infrastructure in our universities,” said Hahn.
He also commented on the harm that Bill 124 has done to Ontario’s public services. “It has exacerbated the worker shortage in our care sectors. It has kept workers – women workers, mainly – in poverty. It’s been the cause of burnout among frontline workers. It has prevented workers from bargaining better wages and working conditions, so they didn’t have to work two and three jobs. Bill 124 made already difficult days much worse.”
Hahn concluded by directly addressing Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives: “Think very hard about appealing this decision. Read the room. Understand that the people of Ontario expect the government to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Respect workers’ rights, because we all know and understand that these workers are the cornerstone of the public services we all depend on in our communities.
“By accepting Justice Koehnen’s decision, you have the chance to do the right thing. To turn the page and begin to make things right with public sector workers in Ontario.
“Now is not the time to appeal, it’s the time to invest in public services and the people who deliver them.”