Bill “seriously impairs fundamental rights in a manner that cannot be justified in a free & democratic society,”

Bill “seriously impairs fundamental rights in a manner that cannot be justified in a free & democratic society,”

Sukanya Pillay, a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, speaks during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday August 30, 2012 held by the CUPE, ETFO and OSSTF  to voice their opposition to a bill which affects the rights of Ontario education workers to collective bargaining.

The Association issued a stern warning about the Liberal government’s Bill 115, which affects education workers in Ontario and announced that they will seek intervener status in a legal challenge should the bill pass in the Ontario Legislature.

“We are concerned that this bill violates the right to meaningful collective bargaining. Why is it necessary, for instance, remove the right to strike before any job action has occurred or even been contemplated? Collective bargaining enhances the dignity of workers and is a constitutional right, in part, for this reason. This isn’t only about the pocketbook, it is also about participating in the governance of the workplace,” said Sukanya Pillay, a Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) director.

“People’s rights are not something to be trifled with. We are concerned that this legislation goes too far and violates the civil liberties of all Ontarians,” she said.

Pillay further stated that the CCLA will seek intervener status should the bill pass and be challenged in court.

Stephen Barrett joined her at the press conference from law firm Sack Goldblatt Mitchell who has provided advice to the unions whose members will be directly affected by Bill 115.

“You do not have to be a constitutional lawyer to conclude that this proposed legislation is an unprecedented attack on the civil liberties and constitutional rights and freedoms of educational workers,” said Barrett. “We should expect our governments to defend our constitutional rights and freedoms and to respect the constitutionally protected process of good faith bargaining between school boards and educational worker and teacher unions.”

The CCLA is adding its voice to a growing chorus of groups opposing Bill 115. Representatives of the workers who would be affected have already stated that if the bill passes they will challenge this attack on the rights of Ontarians.

CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation President Ken Coran, and President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Sam Hammond, joined Pillay and Barrett at the press conference.

photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim