02/14/2013

Toronto, Ontario, February 14, 2013 – Municipal leaders are calling on all three political parties to work together to make meaningful improvements to Ontario’s interest arbitration system.
Municipal Leaders’ Checklist Aims for More Efficient, Accountable and Transparent Interest Arbitration.

At a news briefing today, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, joined by the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) and the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO), shared a legislative checklist aimed at addressing key issues. 

“There were several legislative proposals tabled last year to make changes to the interest arbitration system,” said AMO President Russ Powers. “As lawmakers reconvene, this checklist is an effort to make sure they get it right.  Taxpayers should see how decisions are arrived at and what it means for their community.”

Interest arbitration is the only legal way to settle contract negotiation disputes with essential workers, such as police and firefighters, who are not allowed to strike.

Municipal governments are frustrated with the priority that replication of agreements from one community to another has over consideration of local fiscal conditions.  In addition, the length of the process can be long, sometimes taking years before a decision is made.  

AMO’s legislative check list includes:

  • Streamlining the process and creating a 12-month timeline for completion.
  • Clear, measurable criteria for evaluating the fiscal health of a community.
  • Requiring that arbitrators give priority to and provide clear, written explanation of how the fiscal health of a community was considered.
“We value emergency service personnel.  Their professional training and responsibilities are recognized within a municipal government’s overall pay structure,” said LUMCO Chair and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. “It is reasonable that annual pay raises reflect the economic circumstances of the community they serve, and to be comparable to increases given to its other municipal employees.” 

“The changes do not direct an outcome for either party at interest arbitration,” noted Niagara Regional Chair Gary Burroughs.  “Instead, these changes mean community taxpayers know how their tax contributions pay for the award and how the decision was made.”

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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