College faculty members represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union will be receiving an additional 6.5 per cent in salary increases over three years.
They are the latest group of public sector workers to see their pay boosted due to an Ontario court overturning a provincial wage restraint law known as Bill 124, which capped salary increases for broader public sector workers at 1 per cent a year for three years.
The government appealed after the court declared the law unconstitutional last year, but in the meantime many workers have been awarded additional wages due to “reopener” clauses in their contracts that were triggered when the law was struck down.
The 16,000 full-time and partial-load college faculty represented by OPSEU will now be receiving wage increases of three per cent in each of the first two years of their 2021-2024 contract and 3.5 per cent in the third year, after the union and the College Employer Council reached a mediated settlement.
“Faculty members showed their commitment to correcting a legislative injustice throughout this bargaining process,” OPSEU president JP Hornick wrote in a statement.
“It is the same commitment that they showed to their students and communities by providing high quality education throughout the pandemic.”
The settlement will also see the extended health plan paramedical coverage increased from $3,000 to $4,750 annually, the colleges said.
“Ontario colleges play a vital role in Ontario’s economy, and we value academic employees and the education and stability they provide students, colleges, and the greater community,” College Employer Council chief executive Graham Lloyd wrote in a statement.
Bargaining for the next contract for college faculty is set to start in less than a year.
“This settlement is a necessary step forward for our 16,000 members following the unconstitutional constraints imposed by Bill 124, but it does not sufficiently address the erosion of our members’ wages as a result of inflation,” OPSEU bargaining team chair Ravi Ramkissoonsingh wrote in a statement.
“We look forward to going back to the bargaining table again next year, when our members can engage in free and fair bargaining without legislative constraints.”
Other workers who have received higher wage increases after Bill 124 was overturned include hospital registered nurses, other hospital workers such as dietary aides and personal support workers, and paramedics at the Ornge air ambulance service.