bill 124 ontario

Here's why people are calling on the Ontario government to repeal Bill 124

Ontario's healthcare system is moving closer and closer to complete collapse thanks to major staffing shortages, and much of the province is urgently calling on Doug Ford's government to aid the situation by repealing Bill 124

The bill, which was introduced and passed by the province in 2019, limits wage increases for registered nurses, nurse practitioners and health-care professionals to just one per cent per year.

As a result of the legislation, heroic nurses who've risked their lives throughout the pandemic received a salary "increase" this year that, in reality, constitutes a four per cent reduction in their real income after inflation. 

Nurses say the bill also caps benefits that could help with mental health challenges during the pandemic, and the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says it interferes with Charter rights to freely bargain.

Nursing leaders have therefore been calling for the bill to be repealed since it first passed, but those calls have intensified as of late as more and more exhausted health-care workers are leaving the sector at the most critical point in the pandemic thus far.

"There are many reasons why nurses have reached this breaking point," reads an open letter from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) to Premier Ford.

"Too many days with excessive and dangerous patient workloads. Too many shifts without a day off. Too much time spent away from their families and loved ones. And, too many days under Bill 124 – legislation your government passed in a misguided attempt at austerity."

The RNAO says Ford turned a pre-pandemic nursing shortage into a full-blown nursing crisis, adding that he has "continually shown disrespect for nurses and the nursing profession."

And nurses aren't the only ones saying it. 

Ontario opposition leaders Andrea Horwath, Steven Del Duca and Michael Schreiner participated in a joint press conference Thursday, hosted by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) and SEIU Healthcare, to echo calls to repeal the bill.

They also signed RNAO's pledge to support their call to repeal, as did all their MPPs.

"Ford must recall the legislature so we can repeal Bill 124, Doug Ford's low-wage law, and begin to fix the staffing crisis in our health care system," Horwath said in a statement. 

"We need to retain, recruit and return health care workers by showing them the respect they deserve — with better wages, paid sick days and mental health supports," she continued.
"Health care workers are exhausted, burnt out and run off their feet. They deserve better — they deserve respect, and deserve to know that relief is in the way."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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