02/21/2014 09:38 EST | Updated 04/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Tim Hudak backs off PC 'right to work' plan

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has backed off his party's "right to work" plan, which would have made union membership and dues optional at unionized workplaces.

Hudak made the announcement Friday during a speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

Right to work was a controversial policy that caused public rifts within Hudak's caucus.

Hudak's change of heart comes after the party lost the Niagara Falls byelection last week to the New Democrats, who were supported by union activists who flooded the riding to rally against the policy.

Hudak said Friday that right to work was a policy idea that "didn't make the cut" as his party prepares for a possible spring election.

Updating Ontario's labour laws will remain a part of the PC platform, Hudak said, but his party will no longer push for scrapping the so-called Rand Formula, where all employees in a unionized workplace pay dues, even if they’re not part of the union.

Hudak told the Board of Trade audience he's "ready to lead" and take on Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose Liberal minority government could fall unless it secures opposition support for the budget, which is expected in a few weeks.