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Nov. 4, 2022

RNAO stands with education workers


RNAO stands firmly on the side of education workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in their labour dispute with the Ontario government. These vastly underpaid workers are emerging from three years of government-imposed wage restraints under Bill 124 into an inflationary economy. They have a right to bargain freely, for the wage increases that their members need and deserve. 

Ontario’s education workers have just emerged from a severe three-year wage cap of one per cent under Bill 124, only to be greeted with Bill 28. Like Bill 124, this new bill caps wage increases far below the rate of inflation. It also denies them collective bargaining of the terms and conditions of their employment for the next four years – a right all workers in Canada have under the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms.

Nurses know all too well the discouraging and economically painful impact of Bill 124. From the outset of the pandemic, nurses have selflessly cared for the people of Ontario while risking their own health and safety and that of their loved ones. Nurses are experiencing depression, anxiety and stress as never before and 75 per cent of nurses are burnt out – all while working under Bill 124’s severe wage restraints.

RNAO expresses grave concerns that our provincial government has used the Charter’s notwithstanding clause to interfere with labour rights by forcing an employment contract on a female-dominated and racialized group of workers. This egregious assault on labour rights undermines our democratic institutions and Canada’s constitution. The Charter represents the core of who we are as a society. The use of the notwithstanding clause as a routine legal tool is a disservice to us all – especially to those who are poor, discriminated against and marginalized.

RNAO calls on the Ford government to repeal Bill 28 immediately, retract the use of the notwithstanding clause and bargain in good faith with Ontario’s education workers.