Ontario civil servants awarded salary increases after Bill 124 renegotiation

Tens of thousands of Ontario civil servants will get salary increases totalling nearly 10 per cent following wage renegotiation prompted by the province’s wage-cap law being ruled unconstitutional.

This week, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents 30,000 people who work for the ministries and agencies of the Ontario Public Service, announced that an arbitrator awarded what it is calling the “largest increases” the union has seen since 2012.

The arbitrator awarded civil servants a retroactive three per cent wage increase for 2022 and a retroactive 3.5 per cent increase for 2023. They also got a further three per cent increase for this year. The union noted that the increases replace the one per cent already agreed upon in its 2022-2024 collective agreement, which was put into place when the wage-capping legislation was still on the books.

“This award is a direct result of the unwavering solidarity of OPS Unified members who refused to back down,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick in a news release. “Their perseverance is what moved the needle in our favour and what enabled to win the largest increases these workers have seen in nearly 12 years!”

The union added that the increases would help reverse the harmful impacts of the Ford government’s Bill 124 – the 2019 law that capped public sector wage increases at one percent for a period of three years.

In 2022, a judge found that the legislation infringed on the applicants’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Since then, arbitrators have awarded additional retroactive pay to several groups of workers.

The government appealed the decision and is still waiting for a ruling.

In addition, the arbitrator also awarded immediate special wage adjustments to several job classes that have been identified as having significant hiring and retention issues related to wage disparity.

The union said it also reached an agreement with the employer about a new dispute resolution process to address wage disparities in other job classifications.

“This government may think that their majority means they hold all the power. But this win is proof that when we build worker power and solidarity, workers have the power to fight for what they deserve. This is just the beginning,” Hornick said. “We will build on this win and take this energy to the next round of bargaining this year!”

With files from Katherine DeClerq and The Canadian Press