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Ontario formally repeals controversial wage restraint legislation, Bill 124

The Ford government has completed its repeal of the controversial wage restraint law, Bill 124.

After years of defending the law in the face of massive backlash from unions and public sector workers, the province recently promised to repeal the law after losing a court decision.

The law capped public sector wages at one per cent per year for three years.

Bill 124 impacted over 2,500 public sector collective bargaining units in Ontario and triggered a court challenge by a collection of unions and labour groups.

In late 2022, the law was struck down as unconstitutional.

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The Ford government appealed the 2022 ruling to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which also sided against it.

Within hours of losing its second appeal on the law, the government said it would not take the fight any further. Instead, the government said it would repeal the law and take steps to make sure workers it covered were not impacted by it.

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On Friday, the province formalized that process through an order in council, a decision made by cabinet and signed by the lieutenant governor.

Since the ruling, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said Bill 124 backpay has already cost the province billions of dollars.

“We’ve already signed agreements with the nurses and a lot of the teachers unions,” he said. “We’ve already spent billions of dollars.”

Since Bill 124 was ruled unconstitutional at the end of 2022, the bill was effectively void, allowing several unions to negotiate backpay deals.

Retroactive pay increases have been handed to groups including civil servants, hospital workers and college faculty staff.

An estimate from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario said the province would likely have to pay out $13.7 billion in wage increases now that Bill 124 is set to be repealed.

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