TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2022 /CNW/ - An Ontario court ruling that struck down Bill 124 is being heralded by members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO). Nurses are dismayed at news that the government intends to appeal the court ruling. RNAO urges Premier Doug Ford to respect the court's decision to avoid further instability to a health-care system already in crisis.
The Superior Court of Justice has declared Bill 124 to be "void and of no effect," as it violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Judge Markus Koehnen ruled that this wage restraint legislation unjustifiably infringed collective bargaining rights for nurses and other public sector workers.
RNAO's President Dr. Claudette Holloway thanks the court for its decision, saying it is a great day for nurses across the province who have been demanding that the Ford government repeal Bill 124. She also congratulates the applicants in the case, including the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA). "This legislation has been a thorn in the side of the nursing profession since 2019 when it was brought in. It capped annual salary increases at one per cent and led to an exodus of nurses from the profession. Bill 124 conveyed to nurses that their expertise was not valued nor respected."
Agreeing with the concerns raised by RNAO, ONA, and many other health and social service organizations, the judge writes that "the Act coincided with a serious long-term recruitment and retention crisis in the health care, home care, hospital, and long-term care sectors. The Act has prevented employers and unions from negotiating solutions to address this crisis even though the government's own study linked the staffing crisis to compensation. The inability to address staffing issues directly affects the working conditions of the remaining employees." Holloway notes that "appealing the court's ruling will further exacerbate the nursing crisis."
RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun calls news of the court's ruling "a good day for democracy and a good day for Ontario." She says Bill 124 affected a huge swath of public sector workers, damaging the province's social fabric. Grinspun has already implored Premier Ford directly and in public to respect the court's decision. She says the rights of nurses to bargain for competitive compensation, job security and working conditions "must be sacred always, and especially during their prolonged and devastating fight against COVID-19 that has left many exhausted and burnt out. Nurses and all public service employees have given our province and Ontarians their all. Now is the chance for Premier Ford to give back."
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
SOURCE Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
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