AN OPEN LETTER TO PREMIER DALTON MCGUINTY FROM THE TORONTO POLICE SERVICES BOARD

TORONTO, May 10 /CNW/ -

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Room 281
Queen's Park
Toronto ON  M7A1A1

Dear Premier McGuinty,

I have read with great interest your public comments relating to the tentative agreement reached between the Toronto Police Association (TPA) and the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB).

With great respect, I must say that decisions made at the provincial level are largely responsible for this deal.  The province makes the rules under which municipal police services boards bargain collective agreements.  The province has repeatedly taken steps to set a pattern of steadily increasing costs in policing.  It is in this context that we are left to negotiate a reasonable collective agreement.

No police service in the province bargains in isolation.  The fact is that the terms and conditions of employment for police officers are set through pattern bargaining (mostly) or pattern arbitration (occasionally) amongst the largest police services.  For example, arbitrators considering what to award police services in Durham, Sudbury, Hamilton and Ottawa look to settlements or arbitration awards in places like Toronto, the OPP or Peel.

Our province has a long history of driving up the costs of policing through deals given to the OPP.

For example, in a recent OPP contract, the pension plan was made much more generous than the pension plan that applies to all other police officers.  It pays a pension based on the best three years rather than the best five.  I understand that all of the past service costs for this change were paid for by the taxpayers.  These changes will likely cost millions of public dollars.  Other police associations are trying to bargain for the same treatment.  The TPSB has said "no" to this twice so far - in 2008 and 2011.

For 2009 and 2010, the government has claimed that it achieved a lower increase for the OPP.  In fact, the government temporarily increased OPP members' retention pay by one percent for each of the two years in order to give the OPP a higher increase.

In 2010, the government  gave the OPP, without arbitration, a 5.07% increase for 2011 (almost 2% higher than anyone else for this year).  In addition, the government gave the OPP a guarantee of an across-the-board wage increase on March 1, 2014 (retroactive to January 1, 2014), which would make the OPP members the highest paid police officers in the province in 2014, regardless of cost.  As a result, they will receive, at minimum, a 14.06% salary increase over four years (2011 to 2014).  This has set the province wide police bargaining pattern.

Toronto's proposed agreement represents a cumulative increase of 11.5% over the four year period from 2011 to 2014 (two and one-half percent less than the OPP deal over the same period) - with no guarantee as to being the highest paid and no changes to the pension.

Turning to arbitration, the province has the ability to change the rules for arbitration.    It has long been established that arbitrators replicate negotiated agreements.  A municipality's ability to pay as well as local and provincial economic conditions, which are among the criteria for arbitration set out in the Police Services Act, receive little, if any, consideration.  The province has done nothing to change this.  Repeated requests from municipalities, associations and police services across the province to fix this system have gone ignored.

Finally, it was the province which made retention pay a province-wide feature of police agreements by giving it to the OPP.  Unlike in Toronto, OPP had absolutely no retention issue or requirement for retention pay.  Other police services had settled their contracts after Toronto without giving it, but once the province made it a province wide feature, all of the other police services subsequently followed.

Of course, I welcome a debate about a proposed collective agreement where all of the proposed changes are public and can be discussed.  I believe that our tentative agreement is a proper reflection of the current collective bargaining (and arbitration) environment.

Premier, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and share our ideas on how to make police bargaining more realistic and consistent with our economic reality.  In the meantime, we will move forward with our tentative agreement, which is far more cost-effective and realistic than that of the OPP, and which was reached through the hard work of both our Board and the Toronto Police Association.

Yours truly,

Alok Mukherjee, Chair
Toronto Police Services Board

Cc: 
Mayor Rob Ford and Members of Toronto City Council
Members, Toronto Police Services Board

OPP Contract Facts:

  • The recent OPP agreements are the product of negotiation and not arbitration.

  • The 2011 agreement included a "highest paid" provision that regardless of cost, OPP will be the highest paid in Ontario on January 1, 2014.  In 2010, an OPP first class constable's end rate was $79,451.

  • The new OPP contract gives a first class constable a 5.07% increase in 2011, which will bring their end rate to $83,483.

  • Total OPP increase for 2011 to 2014 is a minimum of 14.06% with an ongoing guarantee to be the highest paid in the province in 2014.

 

SOURCE Toronto Police Services Board

For further information:

Toronto Police Services Board
416-808-8080

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