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Ontario Superior Court Rules Bill 115 Breached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Apr 21, 2016

An Ontario judge has found that the provincial government "substantially interfered" with teachers' and other education workers' right to collective bargaining, in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

The governing Liberals imposed contracts on teachers and other education workers in 2012 amid a growing threat of strikes. The imposed contracts froze wages, limited the ability to strike and ended sick leave bank payouts. Several unions took the government to court, arguing that Bill 115 violated their constitutional right to freedom of association as guaranteed by section 2(d) of the Charter.

Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP acted for two parties to this constitutional challenge. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation was represented by Susan Ursel and Karen Ensslen, as well as Heather Alden of the OSSTF. Unifor was represented by Katie Rowen and Kristen Allen.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Thomas Lederer issued his decision on April 20, 2016, ruling in favour of the applicant unions. "I find that considering the overall process undertaken, the actions of Ontario substantially interfered with meaningful collective bargaining," he wrote. Justice Lederer held that the impact of this flawed piece of legislation was "not just on the economic circumstances of education workers but on their associational rights and the dignity, autonomy and equality that comes with the exercise of that fundamental freedom."

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