Doug Ford says Ontario government ‘spent billions’ on Bill 124 and will respect court’s decision

Doug Ford says Ontario government ‘spent billions’ on Bill 124 and will respect court’s decision

Ontario Premier Doug Ford lamented the court’s decision on Bill 124 Tuesday, saying his government “already spent billions of dollars” as a result of the legislation.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning, the premier said he doesn’t believe the decision should have been made in the courts.

“We just believe it should be government’s decision,” he said.

“We say Parliament is supreme, meaning the people are supreme. People elect the Parliament. They should make the decisions.”

The Ontario government has said it will repeal the 2019 law that capped salary wages for public sector workers at one per cent for three years. This will occur when MPPs return to the legislature next week for its first session of 2024.

The law was widely criticized by labour unions and opposition parties, who argued it was unconstitutional.

The case was first heard in 2022, with Justice Markus Koehnen ruling that Bill 124 does infringe on the applicants’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The province appealed the decision, arguing the law did not infringe on constitutional rights, and that it was meant to be an “exceptional and time limited” effort at reducing the deficit.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario dismissed the province’s appeal Monday.

While the case was being heard in court, the government has slowly been paying remedies to these workers, which include nurses and teachers, to make up for lost wages.

“We’ve already signed agreements with the nurses and a lot of the teachers unions,” the premier told reporters at ann unrelated news conference.

“And times are different now.”

Ford said the province’s finances are starting to balance out, and that his government has been “prudent fiscal managers.”

On Monday, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy projected Ontario will have a $4.5-billion deficit by the end of the fiscal year, which is $1.1 billion lower than what was projected.

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