TORONTO, ON – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) strongly believes Bill 124 circumvents the legal framework for negotiations set out by the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, which requires parties to engage in good faith bargaining. It is a clear violation of ETFO members’ freedom of expression and association guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The legal challenge that begins today brings us one step closer to a declaration of what we all know to be true: Bill 124 violates Ontarians’ constitutional rights,” says ETFO President Karen Brown. “Instead of forcing restrictions on collective bargaining that are unconstitutional, the Ford government must be focused on reaching agreements at the bargaining table, undertaken in good faith.”
Public sector workers who have been hailed as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic are the same workers most impacted by this unconstitutional legislation. By legislating unilateral limits on compensation growth, the government has turned its back on the collective bargaining process and on those most affected by the bill: women, especially racialized women. Bill 124 has worsened employees’ working conditions and exacerbated the sexism and racism experienced by workers. The harmful legislation must be retroactively repealed.
Notes Brown, “We have seen countless examples from the United States where attacks on education unions and their members are followed by privatization and the destruction of universal public education. I want to be clear: we will not let that happen here in Ontario.”
It is time for the government to respect teachers, early childhood educators, education and professional support personnel, and all public service workers. Adds Brown, “Educators are the heart of the public education system that shapes the future of every student. They are highly trained professionals and deserve to be fairly compensated for the important work they do.”
ETFO represents approximately 83,000 members, including public elementary teachers, occasional teachers, designated early childhood educators, education support personnel, and professional support personnel. Visit BuildingBetterSchools.ca.