Several unions groups protested in front of Sault MPP Ross Romano's office Wednesday morning, calling on the Doug Ford government to restore basic rights of frontline and health care workers. (Christian D'Avino/CTV News)

Several unions groups protested in front of Sault MPP Ross Romano's office Wednesday morning, calling on the Doug Ford government to restore basic rights of frontline and health care workers.

It was part of a series of protests taking place province-wide, organized by CUPE under the umbrella of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

“The government is being generous with its praise," said Michael Hurley, OCHU president. "But practically speaking, it’s stripped away these workers of basic rights and we’re asking today for those rights to be restored.”

Hurley said the impacts of Bill 195 - which dealt with the reopening of Ontario - still overrides collective bargaining agreements that were made before the pandemic.

"These are pretty basic rights, like being moved from the day shift to the night shift right away, they can be moved to another community or employer," Hurley said. "The legislation that was introduced in July effectively overrode these working rights for a period of up to three years, even though the government, by its own admission in the Reopening Ontario Act, says the COVID crisis is over."

Hurley said workers have no issue with returning to an emergency status, should a second wave of COVID-19 hit the province. However, he said the worry is the bill could be used to prevent collective agreements between employers and unions.

"The last thing we want to see is massive layoffs, or the dictation of vacation time and sick leave," he said. "We will fight for those agreements that our unions worked incredibly hard to get put in place."