A small vocal group of nurses and supporters rallied on Friday in Sudbury to protest Bill 124, a bill they say takes away their right to bargain.

Nickel Belt MPP and NDP health critic France Gelinas says she joined in the rally to support the nurses who feel they have lost their bargaining rights with the Bill’s passing last November.

Sebastian Skamski, the Press Secretary for the Office of the President of the Treasury Board responded stating the government’s top priority is the health and safety of all Ontarians with a focus on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak at this time.

He says Bill 124 is designed to protect public sector jobs and vital frontline services, which are essential in the fight against COVID-19.

He also pointed out the frontline workers will receive pandemic pay for their service.

He says the government’s top priority is the health and safety of all Ontarians, and they are focused on the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. They are taking decisive action to ensure heroic frontline workers are being recognized for their work through programs like pandemic pay.

At the same time, the government remains committed to protecting public sector jobs and the fiscal health of the province. Of note, under this legislation, Ontario’s public sector employees will still be able to receive salary increases for seniority, performance, or increased qualifications as they do currently.

To be clear, this legislation applies to over one million people working in Ontario’s public sector, spanning numerous different sub-sectors. This legislation is universally applied across the Ontario Public Service (OPS) and the Broader Public Sector (BPS), including employees in schools, colleges, universities, the provincial government, hospitals, and provincial police. He adds any suggestion that it is discriminatory or targets any demographic group is totally baseless.

Nurses employed in the health care, long-term care, social services, and correctional sectors are part of the 375,000 employees that benefit from pandemic pay. Eligible employees will receive $4 per hour worked on top of their existing hourly wages, regardless of how much they already make. Additionally, eligible employees who work at least 100 hours in a designated 4-week period, will also be eligible to receive an additional lump sum payment of $250 for that period. For an average employee working a standard 40 hour work week, this represents an additional $3,560 on top of existing wages over a 16-week period. That being said, there is no limit or cap on the amount of hours that qualify for the $4 per hour bonus, meaning the additional compensation may be higher should individuals work more hours.


PHOTOS: Nurses rallied in Sudbury on Friday to protest Bill 124, which they say takes away their bargaining rights. Photos provided by France Gelinas.