Public Values

Civil rights organization, union ready to fight Ontario Liberals educational Bill 115 in court if passed

Constitutional rights blatantly disregarded for political advancement during election period.

Hahn: A person's freedom should not be used as an election ploy.TORONTO, ON, August 30, 2012: The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has issued a stern warning about the Liberal government's Bill 115, which affects education workers in Ontario. The Association further announced that it will seek intervener status in a legal challenge should the bill pass in the Ontario Legislature.

"We are concerned that this bill violates the right to meaningful collective bargaining. Why is it necessary, for instance, remove the right to strike before any job action has occurred or even been contemplated? Collective bargaining enhances the dignity of workers and is a constitutional right, in part, for this reason. This isn't only about the pocketbook, it is also about participating in the governance of the workplace," said Sukanya Pillay, a CCLA director.

"People's rights are not something to be trifled with. We are concerned that this legislation goes too far and violates the civil liberties of all Ontarians," she said.

  "We will challenge this proposed legislation — to the Supreme Court, if necessary — because this goes against everything the people of Ontario believe in,"

Stephen Barrett joined her at the press conference from law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell, which has provided advice to the unions whose members would be directly affected by Bill 115.

"You do not have to be a constitutional lawyer to conclude that this proposed legislation is an unprecedented attack on the civil liberties and constitutional rights and freedoms of educational workers," said Barrett. "We should expect our governments to defend our constitutional rights and freedoms and to respect the constitutionally protected process of good faith bargaining between school boards and educational worker and teacher unions."

The CCLA is adding its voice to a growing chorus of groups opposing Bill 115. Representatives of the workers who would be affected have already stated that if the bill passes, they will challenge this attack on the rights of Ontarians.

"School board support workers and teachers all work hard every day to create safe schools. Dalton McGuinty is using them as pawns in a desperate bid to win two by-elections, just as he wasted $190 million to move an electrical generating plant so that he could buy one more seat in the last election," said Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario President Fred Hahn.

"This is the kind of self-interested, cynical politics that people can see right through. It's far worse than moving a power plant," commented Hahn. "A person's freedom should not be used as an election ploy."

"It's a very dangerous game that sets a very dangerous precedent," he said.

The Liberal government's proposed legislation's impact could be felt far beyond the educational sector, warned Hahn. It is ignoring the harm its proposed legislation will cause to communities across Ontario that rely on the education system to care for and prepare our kids. Essential to these goals are the workers in the system, including all educational support workers in schools. A fairly negotiated settlement with school boards that understand the role this work plays in truly putting students first is the answer. Threats and bullying legislation will solve nothing.

"The Liberals want you to believe they are protecting education. How can they claim that when they are cutting over $2 billion from a system entrusted with educating future generations?" says Hahn. "Money gone is money gone — a cut is a cut — and surely that is true even in McGuinty math."

To understand the economic reality in Ontario, you must also understand that maintaining strong public services and keeping good jobs in our communities are important parts of Ontario's economic recovery.

"Rest assured, our members will be in schools come September 1st providing the services which students and families rely on," said Hahn. However, the Government's threat of legislation is a "very dangerous and highly political game and we will not be a part of it. We will challenge this proposed legislation — to the Supreme Court, if necessary — because this goes against everything the people of Ontario believe in," he added.

Links and sources
  Liberal bill an attack on civil liberties, Canadian Civil Liberties Association says: Group joins growing opposition to Bill 115.
  McGuinty government's proposed legislation tramples constitutional rights and harms education system families rely on

Posted: September 29, 2012

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