Bill 124 violates the guarantee of freedom of association in s. 2(d) of the Charter
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has held that Bill 124 – The so-called Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019 – violates s. 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 2(d) guarantees freedom of association, which includes the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike.
A few members of our Bill 124 team – Mel, Steven, Colleen and Josh – take a break outside the court.
Bill 124 limited the wage increase of 780,000 broader public sector workers to 1% per year for three years. Our summary of Bill 124 is here.
The Court held that Bill 124 violated s. 2(d) because it interfered with the right to collective bargaining, not only by preventing bargaining for wage increases of more than 1%, but also by preventing unions from trading off salary demands against non-monetary benefits, preventing the bargaining process from addressing staff shortages, interfering with the usefulness of the right to strike and the independence of interest arbitration, and interfering with the power balance between employers and employees.
The Court held that the violations of s. 2(d) could not be saved under s. 1 of the Charter as reasonable limits on rights that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
The Court declared that Bill 124 to be void and of no effect. It also retained jurisdiction to address the issue of remedies for the constitutional violation.
A longer summary of the case will be posted in due course to the Notable Cases section of our website. In the meantime, you can read the decision here.