TORONTO, Feb. 12, 2024 /CNW/ – Nurses are praising the ruling by the province’s Court of Appeal confirming that Bill 124 is invalid as it applies to “represented” or unionized employees.
“The ruling upholds what we all know: That nurses have a right to bargain a fair labour agreement and that this right must not be taken away from them. We all know the havoc that Bill 124 caused to the profession. At a time nurses worked the hardest due to COVID-19 and were needed most – wage increases of just one per cent were imposed on them. Coupled with a period of high inflation, nurses saw a huge reduction in their compensation. It was both unfair and deeply damaging to nurses, leading many to leave the workforce,” says Dr. Claudette Holloway, president of RNAO.
Monday’s decision partially upholds a lower court ruling by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. While the government framed its decision to cap wages for nurses as a way to fight the deficit, the legislation had wide-ranging effects on the profession. That lead RNAO to organize a province-wide campaign to persuade the government to repeal Bill 124.
Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO’s CEO, thanked the unions for pursuing legal action, including the Ontario Nurses’ Association. Grinspun also applauded the court for its decision. “We are pleased the court recognizes the importance of bargaining and that Bill 124 interfered with good faith negotiation. Nurses use their knowledge, judgement and skills each time they come into contact with patients. Nurses are central to the effective functioning of our health system. Their expertise must be respected and valued in deeds and actions if we are to retain them as health professionals for Ontarians,” urges Grinspun.
Grinspun regrets the ruling leaves the one per cent cap in place for non-unionized workers. These nurses, most of whom work in community care, need higher wages to retain and recruit them into this important sector. Grinspun says today’s ruling should act as a reminder for the government that it has more work to do to achieve wage parity for all nurses: “Nurses work in all sectors of our health system and their compensation needs to be harmonized upwards so we can continue to attract the best for the benefit of all Ontarians.”
The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public we serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
SOURCE Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario