Doug Ford’s Conservative government must ban scabs if there’s any sincerity to his claims of supporting workers

BLACK RIVER-MATHESON, ON –(COMMUNITYWIRE)– Two equipment operators were hit by two different scabs driving a pickup truck through picket lines on Wednesday. These are the second and third incidents of a motor vehicle being weaponized to attack Black River-Matheson’s 14 municipal workers who were, at first, locked out in October 2023 and have been on legal strike since January 22, 2024.

In its rush to bring in scabs to steal workers’ jobs, the township appears to be hiring unqualified drivers. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) workers are concerned about the public’s safety being endangered.

CUPE is calling on the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Crown attorney to fully investigate and bring criminal charges against the two drivers responsible for Wednesday’s attacks on striking workers.

Township managers who have been directing the work of scabs should also be fully investigated under Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code. There is a legal duty, already on the books, for anyone directing the work of others to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of workers and the public.


“We’ve been locked out or on strike for 124 days. That’s a third of a year,” said Serge Bouchard, president of CUPE Local 1490. “As it stands now, it seems Doug Ford and all of Ontario’s Conservative MPPs are okay with a worker being the victim of a hit and run every 41 days.”

“Township councillors and MPPs must stop this anti-worker violence,” urged Bouchard. “Mayor Doug Bender and all six township councillors are on the hook for what their scabs do. It’s time for police to do their job, investigate those who are directing the work of the scabs, and enforce the law to protect workers and the public from any more violence.”

“CUPE Ontario is extremely alarmed to learn that CUPE 1490 members were put in harm’s way again,” CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn remarked. “These workers are on a legal strike on a legal picket line, which I’m proud to have visited many times since the start of this dispute.”

“Trying to break this legal strike using unqualified scabs, mayor Doug Bender and the whole township council aren’t just putting CUPE members in danger, they’re putting the public’s safety at risk too,” Hahn observed. “Blame for this situation extends to Doug Ford too. Scab-preventing legislation would put an end to these bad practices and make labour disputes in general shorter and safer.”

Quick Facts:

  • James Mousseau, the Township of Black River-Matheson’s director of infrastructure services, is due to appear at a Timmins court on March 5 having been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal harassment. On October 16, 2023, then-locked-out township workers witnessed Mr. Mousseau accelerate instead of braking at a stop sign where he narrowly missed hitting the workers.
  • The Westray amendments to the Criminal Code, enacted in 2004, established legal duties for workplace health and safety and imposed serious penalties for violations. These amendments also provided new rules for attributing criminal liability to organizations, their representatives, and everyone who directs or has the authority to direct the work of others.
  • These Criminal Code provisions affect all organizations and individuals who direct the work of others, anywhere in Canada – including municipal governments.
  • In a widely welcomed development last fall, the federal government tabled scab-prohibiting legislation in the House of Commons. Bill C-58, if adopted, would reduce violence against workers on picket lines for workplaces under federal jurisdiction. It would also set an example for governments across Canada to bring in long overdue bans to prevent the employer-orchestrated theft of workers’ jobs in provincially regulated workplaces.
  • Introduced on November 9, 2023, Bill C-58 is currently at the second reading stage in the House of Commons. The outlawing of scabs has long been called for by CUPE and other unions affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Bill C-58, if passed by the House and Senate, will fulfill an obligation set out in the Trudeau government’s supply and confidence agreement with the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) caucus.
  • More than 70 labour experts signed an open letter, on November 24, 2023, urging members of parliament to resist efforts to weaken Bill C-58 and to instead strengthen the legislation and ensure its swift adoption. The experts cited the positive affect of “reducing instances of picket violence” as a benefit of this proposed new law.
  • Bill 90, Anti-Scab Labour Act, 2023, was jointly introduced in the Ontario Legislative Assembly on March 30, 2023 by Ontario New Democratic Party labour critic Jamie West, MPP (Sudbury); Lisa Gretzky, MPP (Windsor West); Jennifer French, MPP (Oshawa); and France Gelinas, MPP (Nickel Belt). Doug Ford and his Conservative government used their party’s majority of seats in the provincial legislature to vote down the proposed law on November 27.
  • Bill 90 would have restored Ontario’s scab-prohibiting law that was in place in the province before it was killed in 1995 by the previous Conservative government of Mike Harris.


For more information, contact:

Ken Marciniec, CUPE Communications
[email protected]
1-416-803-6066 (cell)