Nurses. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / jcpjrNurses. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / jcpjr

Unions condemn appeal of ruling declaring Bill 124 unconstitutional

Unions representing the province's healthcare workers are slamming the Ford government for appealing a ruling that declared Bill 124 unconstitutional.

The bill capped workers wage increases at one per cent.

The Ontario Nurses Association, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, and SEIU Healthcare released separate statements Thursday vowing to fight the appeal.

"Nurses and health-care professional across the province are beyond angry and frustrated that this government is continuing to defend Bill 124, and we are telling Premier Ford: enough is enough," Interim President Bernie Robinson said in the statement. "The Premier must stop attacking nurses and health-care workers. He should have done the right thing and accepted the court's clear decision. Now, hundreds of thousands of public dollars will be wasted fighting workers in court."

SEIU called it an attack on people serving in healthcare and warned it will further damage healthcare delivery and cause already record wait times for services to grow. The union also accused Ford of a privatization scheme designed to cost families more so his friends can get richer.

"Premier Ford's anti-worker decision to appeal the ruling of Ontario's Superior Court, which last month overturned Bill 124, is an attack on people serving on the frontline of care that will further damage healthcare delivery and cause already record wait times for health services to grow longer," said Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare.

The RNAO calls the move "shameful" and says it "demonstrates [the province] has failed to understand the magnitude of the nursing crisis facing the province's health system."

"Throughout this holiday period, nurses have continued to show up for work, duty bound to deliver the care they know Ontarians need. The decision by Premier Ford's government is a betrayal to nurses, to the profession and to the public, who are witnessing the crumbling of a health system that desperately needs more nurses. The decision to appeal Bill 124 and continue its fight to leave wage restraint legislation in place is an affront to everyone," said RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. "The legislation has capped salary increases for nurses and other public sector workers at one per cent annual since 2019, a massive reduction in real salary given the 12.5 per cent cumulative inflation since that year. All this, while nurses' workloads have escalated during a pandemic."

RNAO president Dr. Claudette Holloway is urging Premier Doug Ford to reverse the decision to appeal.

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