The Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on Finance Minister Dwight Duncan to get a ruling on the legality of his proposed public sector wage freeze legislation prior to passing it into law.
On Sept. 26, Duncan announced the Liberal government would propose legislation that would impose a wage freeze on nearly 500,000 public sector workers, legislation that even Duncan admits may be unconstitutional. "There"s constitutional risk with this, there"s no question," Duncan said after unveiling details of the draft legislation.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding that the government get a stamp of approval from Ontario Court instead of passing a law that could well be illegal.
“Every citizen in Ontario, whether they belong to a union or not, should be extremely fearful of a government that would try to pass a law that they themselves admit may be unconstitutional,” Thomas said. “This draft legislation is an attack on the democratic process in this province, and it seems that Duncan and the Premier are declaring themselves to be above the law. All Duncan has to do is get a judge to rule on this beforehand. Instead, he will wind up spending millions in taxpayer money trying to defend the law after the fact.”
Thomas said that this has all the hallmarks of a government that is acting in desperation, and is appalled that the McGuinty Liberals would act so recklessly to a threat that hasn’t even manifested itself yet.
“Our members fully understand the economic situation we are in,” Thomas said. “No one is making any exorbitant demands. Yet before negotiations ever take place, the government wants to pass a law that freezes wages, virtually nullifies the right to strike and that gives them the ability to impose contracts. And Duncan doesn’t even know if it’s legal. Frankly, that should scare the hell out of anyone who lives or does business in this province.”
Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931 Don Ford, OPSEU Communications: 416-448-7442