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Ontario NDP demands Doug Ford apologize over Bill 124

Ontario Premier Doug Ford refused to acknowledge a request by the NDP to apologize for suppressing the wages of nurses and teachers through Bill 124.

The interaction occurred during Tuesday’s Question Period at Queen’s Park—about a week after the government said it would repeal the wage-cap law following a failed court appeal.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles started off her questioning by talking about Bill 124 and affordability.

“For workers in our hospitals and our schools and in the boarder public sector, they’ve also had to contend with their own government fighting to suppress their wages with bill 124 and then with the costly legal campaign to defend that bill,” she said.

“My question to the premier is: will he apologize to the hard working nurses, PSWs, teachers, educational assistants and all the public sector workers for supressing their wages with Bill 124?”

The premier stood twice to address this and a similar follow-up question without apologizing. Instead, he spoke about affordability, and the fact that the Ontario NDP voted against a number of PC policies that saved people money.

“I don’t think the leader of the opposition really, really cares about the people and making sure they keep the costs down, the taxes down,” he said.

Ford went on to talk about his government’s investment in nursing education to address staffing shortages across the province.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions from the official opposition at Queen’s Park on Feb. 20, 2024. (Katherine DeClerq/CTV News Toronto)

Bill 124—the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act—capped wage increases for public sector workers for a three-year period.

The legislation was found by the courts to be unconstitutional in that it violated the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining.

In response to a failed appeal, the government said it would not pursue another court battle. Instead, it would repeal the bill while also introducing regulations to exempt non-unionized and non-associated workers.

Ford has previously said he felt like the decision on Bill 124 should have rested with government rather than the courts.

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