LUMCO welcomes serious discussion of interest arbitration system

Current interest arbitration system is unfair.

TORONTO, March 28, 2013 /CNW/ - The Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) welcomes MPP Jim Wilson's Bill, the Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act, 2013, as part of a serious discussion on the interest arbitration system in Ontario.  This Bill is largely based on input provided from Ontario's municipalities and if passed, or adopted by the Government, will bring fairness to the province's interest arbitration system.

"This is the fourth attempt at fixing the arbitration system in this province.  Municipalities have spoken and it's time for all provincial elected officials to start listening and working together to improve the system," said Mayor Hazel McCallion, Chair of LUMCO. "No one is arguing the important job these workers do, we are just asking for the fairness to return to their contracts and the way they are awarded."

The Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act, 2013, includes proposals from Ontario's municipalities such as:

  • New criteria to determine the comparative fiscal health of the municipality and that community's capacity to pay,
  • Ensuring arbitrators provide written reasons for decisions and demonstrate proper consideration of municipality's fiscal health,
  • Improved timelines for decisions,
  • Appointment of a single arbitrator, and
  • Improved process for pre-hearing and submissions.

"The reality is that these arbitrated contracts are essentially unfair to both the taxpayers who are funding them and other unionized and non-unionized workers who receive substantially less in salary adjustments," said Mayor Rick Goldring, Chair of the LUMCO Emergency Services subcommittee. "These municipalities also face the reality that despite their population, financial wellbeing and other unique features, they face arbitration awards based on unrealistic comparators.  This Bill is a good start at addressing the fairness of the system."

LUMCO is committed to working with all members of the Ontario Legislature to return fairness and balance to the interest arbitration system. 

"At some point, for all municipalities with emergency services, these large arbitrated awards start to jeopardize other operating expenses, such as infrastructure, social services and maintenance," said Mayor Carl Zehr, Kitchener.  "Arbitration decisions are inconsistent with what is negotiated for other public and private sector employees."

Taxpayers in all municipalities, large and small, deserve accountable and transparent decisions and all elected officials both provincially and municipally need to work together to ensure this happens.

SOURCE: The Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO)

For further information:

Mayor Hazel McCallion
City of Mississauga
Chair of LUMCO
(905) 896-5555

Mayor Rick Goldring
City of Burlington
Chair of the LUMCO Emergency Services subcommittee
905-335-7600 x.7700

Mayor Carl Zehr
City of Kitchener
519-741-2300

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The Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO)

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