Ontario owes teachers more than $100M for interfering with their bargaining rights

Ontario is on the hook for more than $100 million and counting to compensate teachers and education workers for violating their rights.

Government has struck deals to pay 3 unions so far — but ETFO still holding out

Ontario is on the hook for more than $100 million and counting to compensate teachers and education workers after a judge ruled its bill to impose contracts violated workers' rights. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty)

Ontario is on the hook for more than $100 million and counting to compensate teachers and education workers for violating their rights.

Deals have so far been struck to pay the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

A judge ruled last year that the government "substantially interfered with meaningful collective bargaining" in 2012 legislation that imposed contracts on teachers and education workers.

Several unions took the government to court over the legislation known as Bill 115 that froze some of their wages and limited their ability to strike, and the judge sided with them, but left the question of a remedy up to the government and unions to decide.

High school teachers were the first to agree to their remedy of about $50 million, and about 2,700 education workers represented by OPSEU will get $2.75 million.

CUPE announced Thursday that it had also reached a deal with the government for $56.7 million. If members ratify it, the money would be paid out over time to potentially 60,000 workers who were employed during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

"We are pleased to finally have reached agreement on monetary recognition that the Ontario government violated our basic charter rights," Terri Preston, chair of the union's education sector co-ordinating committee, said in a statement. "Bill 115 should never have been introduced in the first place."

Meanwhile, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario said it hasn't been able to agree on a remedy with the government, so it is going back to court.

"ETFO's Provincial Executive has decided that the principle of fair remedy for the losses suffered by ETFO members due to Bill 115 needs to be honoured," ETFO president Sam Hammond said in a statement. "What the government has proposed doesn't address that principle."