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Workers rally for an end to Bill 124

Peter Votsch, CUPE 7797 (retired)

March 18, 2022
Close to 100 workers came out to a picket on March 17 at Dave Smith's constituency office (the Tory MPP for Peterborough & the Kawarthas), organised by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU-CUPE) to protest the Ontario Tories public sector wage restraint legislation, Bill 124. This piece of legislation limits wages and compensation that can be bargained, to just 1% (in total), and has been in force since June 2019. As a result of this bill, workers in the public sector are now seeing a reduction in their wages and benefits, due to steadily rising inflation, which now sitting at 5.7%.
Despite the election 'goodies' offered by the Ford Tories, such as licence sticker rebates, and the re-instatement of a minimum wage which they took away 4 years ago, the Tories show no sign of slowing their attack on the public sector. Bill 124, in combination with Bill 195, brought in under the aegis of emergency legislation from 2020, which allows employers to use the pandemic to violate Collective Agreements at will and without consequence, has decimated the healthcare field. Along with the anti-vaxxers' ceaseless attacks on healthcare workers, we now face a serious crisis in the public healthcare sector. The Tories have the solution private profiteers have been waiting for: private hospitals, as recently announced by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and continued in vestment in private, for-profit Long Term Care.
In this round of bargaining, OCHU has teamed up with SEIU Healthcare, to bargain jointly, and have sponsored demonstrations such as this one across the province at the offices of Tory MPPs. At the Peterborough protest OCXHU members and their SEIU allies were joined by OSSTF members from as far away as Durham Region, and members of the Ontario Health Coalition, which has teamed up with the unions to lead the fight to save our public medicare. The relatively large and enthusiastic turnout is an encouraging sign that workers will not take the Tory attacks lying down.
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