Labour and social activists congregated on the sidewalk in front of MPP Vic Fedeli’s Main Street East office on Thursday.

There, union supporters gave speeches, cheered and chanted on the subject of the June 5 introduction of Bill 124 (the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019) by the provincial government.

“Communities and social infrastructures have been allocated massive funding cuts. This bill does nothing to Protect Public Services. Bill 124 strips workers of their Charter-protected right to free collective bargaining and forces front-line public sector workers to accept contracts below inflation,” said Amanda Farrow-Giroux, CUPE National Regional Vice President.

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli countered with, “This is just more fearmongering from the usual sources.

“Our government is protecting services that matter most to people and helping to ensure future generations are not left to deal with the burden of past financial mismanagement.”

In a statement, Fedeli added: “Specific to Bill 124, the Province’s net debt has grown to more than one-third of a trillion dollars. In 2019-20, the government is forecasting $13.3 billion in interest payments to service that debt, which is $1.5 million of interest paid every hour of every day, before a single dollar can be spent on schools, hospitals or transportation.

“It must be noted existing collective agreements would not be revised based on the proposed legislation, and it would not impede the collective bargaining process. And the proposed legislation would not impose wage freezes, wage rollbacks or public sector job losses.

“Public sector employees would still be able to progress through salary ranges, be eligible for compensation increases, and be able to negotiate terms and conditions, including compensation.”