Bill 124: Fighting wage suppression and infringement on collective bargaining rights

What is Bill 124?

Bill 124, which became law in November 2019, is controversial because it limits wage and other compensation increases across the public sector and in workplaces that receive public funding, such as not-for-profit long-term care homes and universities. Under this law,

Plus, in the Charter challenge, Unions argue that the government’s compensation cap ties the hands of Unions in negotiations and therefore interferes with the members’ rights to bargain collectively.

Bill 124:

  • CAPS SALARY increases at 1% per year. Employers cannot agree to salary increases over 1% for a class of positions even if they were willing to do so. This cap applies to both collective bargaining and decisions by Boards of Arbitration. When this cap applies depends on the expiry and dates of negotiation for a new/renewal agreement. Learn more here.
  • CAPS OTHER COMPENSATION such as pensions, health and dental benefits, uniform allowances, etc., all at 1%. The employer can spend more than 1% to improve a benefit, but the employee’s benefit cannot exceed a 1% increase.
  • Further, the Act specifically prevents employers from compensating an employee before or after the moderation period. That means the employer cannot wait until the end of the affected time period to make up for the capped compensation at a later date. Learn more here.

Does Bill 124 affect UFCW Locals 175 & 633 members?

Yes, some. This Bill suppresses the wages and right to free collective bargaining for members employed at publicly funded (not-for-profit) long-term care homes, community care centres, or home care programs, as well as cafeteria, food service, janitorial service workers at those healthcare facilities, universities, hospitals, and more.

History of Bill 124:

  • Bill 124 became law in Ontario in November 2019; it sparked outrage among workers in the broader public sector.
  • Bill 124 is known as the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act (the Act).
  • On March 4, 2020, a coalition of Ontario Unions launched a constitutional challenge to Bill 124.
    • The group, coordinated by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and which includes UFCW Locals 175 & 633, believes Bill 124 violates the collective bargaining rights enshrined in the freedom of association guarantee of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • On November 29, 2022, Justice Markus Koehnen of the Ontario Superior Court issued a decision that Bill 124 is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • On December 29, 2022, the Ford government announced it would appeal the Superior Court’s ruling.