Ontario Nurses’ Association Court Challenge to Bill 124 Begins
September 12, 2022
TORONTO, ON, September 12, 2022 – After filing a Charter challenge of the Ford government’s wage-suppression legislation – Bill 124 – the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is arguing its case for fairness for nurses at Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice today.
Passed by the Ford government in 2019, Bill 124 imposes a hard cap of 1% per year to wages and benefits for nurses and other health care professionals for a three-year period.
“ONA will be arguing in Court that Bill 124 violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by interfering with the rights of nurses and health-care professionals to freely negotiate a contract,” says ONA President Cathryn Hoy, RN. “The government’s draconian wage cap is out of touch with the grave nursing crisis and high demand of health-care professionals during one of the worst pandemics of the last century. The Bill tramples on our members’ rights and has perpetuated discrimination on the grounds of sex against our predominantly female profession – which we say is contrary to the Charter.”
“We have filed thousands of pages of evidence that supports our case,” says Hoy, including evidence that has been reinforced up by an arbitrator who ruled his hands were tied by Bill 124. “Bill 124 has had an enormous impact on the province’s ability to retain and recruit nurses and, three years into the pandemic, this has taken an enormous toll on the health-care system and those who need to access the care our members provide.”
Eliminating Bill 124 would provide immediate relief to the severe nursing shortage the province is experiencing, says Hoy. “Removing Bill 124 and restoring of the rights of and respect for the province’s health-care professionals would go a long way to retaining the nurses we have and bringing those we lost back into the system.”
Hoy says, “So far, it appears that this government would rather worsen the crisis it created in healthcare and keep the Bill on the books than simply repeal it. They have committed to spending millions of our taxpayer dollars on fighting us in court, rather than respecting the workers they say they value.”
“It’s a relief to finally have our day in court on behalf of our front-line nurses and health-care professionals, who have sacrificed so much,” says Hoy. “They more than deserve to have the same rights as every other worker restored.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.