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CUPE challenges new Ontario law that strips workers of their constitutional rights

TORONTO – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced today that it is beginning proceedings against the Ontario Government after the passage of Bill 115. CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn made the announcement at Queen’s Park, after the Liberal bill being passed its final vote this morning with the backing of the Conservatives.

This is a truly dreadful day for democracy,” said Hahn. “Instead of focusing on strengthening schools, communities and the economy, the Liberals have chosen to attack people’s charter rights,” said Hahn. “We are challenging Bill 115 because the rights of Ontarians are protected by the Constitution, even if the Liberals don’t want them to be.”

CUPE has retained Andrew Lokan from the firm Paliare Roland and has instructed him to begin legal proceedings challenging the bill’s constitutionality. 

Bill 115 isn’t about balancing the budget. It’s not about fixing the economy. It won’t benefit students or schools,” said Hahn. “It is an unprecedented attack on the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Ontarians working in the education system. And it’s absolutely a cynical political ploy on the part of Liberals who think they can win votes if they appear as tough and right-wing as the Conservatives.”

CUPE Ontario represents 55,000 workers in English and French, public and Catholic, elementary and secondary schools across the province. These workers include custodians, school secretaries, library technicians, educational assistants, early childhood educators, instructors, lunch room supervisors and other support staff who are the back bone of community schools.

At Queen’s Park, Hahn stood alongside Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario President Sam Hammond and Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation President Ken Coran, who also announced they are beginning legal proceedings against Bill 115.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) also came out clearly against the bill and committed to intervene in any legal challenge. “People’s rights are not something to be trifled with. We are concerned this legislation goes too far and violates the civil liberties of all Ontarians” said Sukanya Pillay a CCLA director at a press conference earlier this month.

The legal challenge will be just one part of a broader push to strengthen schools, protect workers, and build community support, Hahn said.

This isn’t just about education workers” said Hahn. “The liberals are using public-sector workers as a scapegoat for their mistakes. They cut revenues through tax breaks to profitable multi-national corporations and banks, thereby creating a deficit. Now, instead of asking the banks —which turned $8 billion in profits this quarter alone — to pay their fair share, they are going after custodians and part-time lunch room workers. Ontarians saw through McGuinty’s cynical politics last week in Kitchener-Waterloo, and they will see through his cynical politics all across Ontario in the weeks and months to come.”

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316