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Workers’ Fight to Defend the Right to Health Care and Education
Bill 115 Remedy Awarded to Elementary Teachers’ Federation
On February 2, 2022 the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario announced that the Ontario Superior Court had finally issued a remedy following its ruling in 2016 that the then Ontario Liberal minority government led by Dalton McGuinty had violated the Charter rights of teachers and education workers in Ontario. The government used Bill 115, the Putting Students’ First Act, to dictate contracts for teachers and education workers which arbitrarily robbed them of banked sick days and nearly cut in half the number of sick days they were entitled to. The legislation used to violate rights was passed by the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in the minority legislature in September of 2012.
The other unions which were party to the Charter Challenge against Bill 115 had already come to an agreement with the province over a remedy. ETFO indicates that it met with government representatives for over 18 months in an attempt to negotiate a fair remedy settlement; however the offers made by the government were not a fair restitution for the losses experienced by ETFO members as a result of Bill 115. In June 2017 the issue of remedy was referred back to Justice Lederer of the Ontario Superior Court.
In his February 2, 2022 decision, Justice Lederer issued an award for damages, payable by the Ontario government, in the amount of $103,100,000 to eligible ETFO members who were employed by a school board during the 2012-2013 and/or 2013-2014 school year(s). ETFO will release specific details regarding the calculation of damages in the near future.
“ETFO welcomes Justice Lederer’s decision, but we recognize it does not replace the loss of ETFO members’ bargaining rights, nor the sick leave, gratuities, and salary ETFO members lost when the Ontario government imposed Bill 115,” said ETFO President Karen Brown. “We thank the court for recognizing that our members’ constitutional rights were violated by a government who unjustly forced contracts on them, froze their pay, and cut sick day provisions as part of an austerity push. Justice Lederer’s decision serves as a reminder to the government that they must never interfere with collective bargaining rights.”
(Workers’ Forum, posted February 17, 2022)