Wage cap law does not infringe on Charter, Ontario says in Bill 124 case

TORONTO — The province says Ontario’s wage-cap law on public-sector workers does not infringe constitutional rights.

Groups representing hundreds of thousands of public sector employees are challenging the constitutionality of Bill 124, a law passed in 2019 that limits wage increases at one per cent per year for Ontario Public Service employees as well as broader public sector workers.

The case began last week and has heard from unions representing government workers, teachers, nurses and university faculty among others.

They argue the law has taken away meaningful collective bargaining, thereby violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The provisions of the bill were to be in effect for three years as new contracts were negotiated, and the Tories had said it was a time-limited approach to help eliminate the deficit.

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Constitutional challenge of Ontario’s wage-cap bill begins in court

The province argues Charter protects only the process of bargaining and not the outcome.

“That’s what the law does, it constrains an outcome,” said government lawyer Zachary Green.

“Within that substantive constraint on what you salary can look like at end of bargaining, the applicants remain free to engage in a process of meaningful bargaining.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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