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Public Health Ontario staff awarded retroactive pay as Bill 124 compensation

Employees of Public Health Ontario labs are set to receive an additional 5.25 per cent in pay increases to compensate for a provincial wage restraint law that was found unconstitutional and has now been repealed.

The law known as Bill 124 capped salary increases for broader public sector workers at one per cent a year for three years.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario recently ruled it unconstitutional and the government repealed it.

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Since the law was first found unconstitutional by a lower court, arbitrators have awarded additional retroactive pay to several groups of workers that had “reopener” clauses in their contracts, including teachers, nurses, other hospital workers, public servants, ORNGE air ambulance paramedics, and college faculty.

Now, 700 employees of Public Health Ontario represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union have been awarded an additional 0.75 per cent retroactive to 2020, another 0.75 per cent for 2021, then an additional 3.75 per cent in 2022, all on top of the one per cent per year they previously received.

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Arbitrator William Kaplan says in his award that the employees, who conduct COVID-19 testing as well as HIV and food and water testing, contributed greatly to the management of the pandemic and helped keep Ontarians safe.

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