Bill 124 retroactive pay deals: Ontario targets fall deadline

Employers say 'they simply don't have the money,' says CUPE president

Bill 124 retroactive pay deals: Ontario targets fall deadline

Ontario is looking to complete all payment deals made necessary following the reversal of Bill 124 by the fall, according to a report.

That target deadline, however, does not include formal processes such as an audit to ensure all workers eligible for backpay deals had received them, according to a Global News report. The government has not yet set a target deadline for that.

The provincial government has been renegotiating contracts and repaying tens of thousands of workers for the past five months.

“It’s interesting that you’re hearing this should be easy: ‘All you have to do is go back and negotiate this and the government will fund it.’ I’m happy to go back and tell our folks that that is not the assumption they were operating under,” Fred Hahn, Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said in the Global News report.

“What we’ve been met with from employers is a lot of sympathy, a lot of understanding, a lot of desire to be able to meet this request. But they say, from their perspective, they simply don’t have the money.”

Backpay negotiations

In February, Ontario’s Court of Appeal found Bill 124 to be unconstitutional. The bill put a cap on public sector workers’ wages.

Since then, some workers have received retroactive wage increases to compensate them for constrained wages as a result of Bill 124. These workers include teachers and nurses.

However, some unions did not have automatic reopener clauses and some public workers aren’t represented by a union at all. The Ontario government is engaged in a more manual repayment process for these workers, according to the Global News report.

Here’s how the process should go, according to the report. Unions without reopener clauses should approach their employer to request a renegotiation. The employer would then go to Ontario’s Treasury Board to seek a mandate to discuss the backpay deal.

That’s when the union and the employer can negotiate a backpay deal. But this presents challenges, said Hanh in the Global News report.

“It is not proving that simple in community agencies, in social services, in child care and in developmental services.

“Unless all of our employers are lying to us simultaneously together, because what they’re telling us is that they simply are not able, and will not be funded, to provide the rectification that we are demanding.”

Remedial wage adjustments among Ontario’s public sector workers as a result of Bill 124 may have led to overspending and the provincial government going over budget for fiscal 2023-2024, according to a previous report.

By March, Ontario already had $6 billion on the books slated for compensation payments, according to a report from The Canadian Press (CP).

Overall, the province would likely have to pay out $13.7 billion in wage increases now that Bill 124 is set to be repealed, Global News reported, citing a February estimate from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario.

Recent articles & video

Slow wage growth seen amid excess Canadian labour: report

Alberta companies owe $1.98 million in backpay for 2023

Employment Law Masterclass 2024: Understand the risks and challenges of upcoming legal changes

Can a client’s directive dismiss a worker?

Most Read Articles

Toronto commute ‘intolerable’, says Board of Trade CEO

3 unions team up to intervene in appeal of province’s pronoun law

Corus Entertainment laying off about 300 more workers due to revenue slumps