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Ontario repeals Bill 124, wage restraint law twice found unconstitutional

TORONTO — An Ontario public sector wage-restraint law that advocates and opposition critics blamed for heightening a health-care staffing crisis is now officially off the books after it was twice declared unconstitutional.

The province’s top court ruled recently that a law that capped salary increases for broader public sector workers at one per cent a year for three years violated collective bargaining rights, largely upholding a lower court ruling.

Hours after the Appeal Court ruling, the government announced that it would repeal the law, known as Bill 124, something that opposition critics, labour advocates and health-care workers had long urged.

The government announced Friday in a brief news release that it has repealed Bill 124 in its entirety through an order in council, which is a government order recommended by cabinet and signed by the lieutenant-governor.

The Progressive Conservatives enacted the law in 2019 as a way to help the government eliminate a deficit.

The law applied to workers including teachers and nurses, and advocates and critics have said the constrained pay, particularly coming during the COVID-19 pandemic, drove nurses out of the sector.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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