October 3, 2012
The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park Toronto, Ontario
Dear Premier McGuinty:
I am writing to express the deep concerns of
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) members. Our concerns
arise from your government’s plan to introduce the Respecting
Collective Bargaining Act (Public Sector), 2012.
We believe that passage of this legislation
will contravene rights protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms. In our democracy, governments are prohibited by the
Charter from legislating away individual and group rights.
Accordingly, OPSEU is calling on your government to get a ruling
from the Courts on the legality of this proposed legislation prior
to its implementation.
This action is warranted given that the
purpose of the proposed legislation, as you have stated, is to
impose a wage freeze and other cutbacks on nearly 500,000 public
We also note that Finance Minister Duncan
has stated that his bill may be unconstitutional. "There's
constitutional risk with this, there's no question," Duncan said
after unveiling details of the draft legislation.
OPSEU believes that 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. This draft legislation is
an attack on the democratic process, and it signals that you and the
Finance Minister would place your government above the law.
This is not how the people of Ontario expect
their government to act. Our leaders should not gamble with our
democratic institutions, traditions and Charter rights. If the
legislation is passed into law, challenged and later ruled to be
unconstitutional, Ontarians will end up spending millions in legal
costs and damages.
Your action has the hallmarks of
desperation, given that the regressive bill is being presented
before unions have even asked for wage or benefit increases. Where
is the threat that would warrant such action? OPSEU members fully
understand the economic situation Ontario is in. None are making
Despite your promises and protestations, the
reality of continued cutbacks, lay-offs and privatization instituted
by your government shows no inclination to protect the public
services our communities and individuals rely on.
Now, before negotiations even take place,
your government has presented an undemocratic law to claim
unprecedented, virtually unlimited powers to freeze wages or roll
back sick leave and other earned benefits. This draft legislation
limits the lawful right to strike and allows freely negotiated
collective agreements to be overturned in favour of unilateral
government contracts. Your actions threaten to end meaningful
collective bargaining in the public sector, causing uncertainty for
employers, workers and communities across Ontario.
Frankly, that should scare the hell out of
anyone who lives or does business in this province.
We await your response.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
copy: All Members of Provincial Parliament