03/28/2013

Toronto, Ontario, March 28, 2013 –Today, MPP Jim Wilson introduced the Ontario Legislature’s fourth attempt in a year to address widely held concerns about interest arbitration.

AMO urges members of Ontario’s Legislature to work with one another, and municipal governments, to adopt accountable, transparent and efficient improvements.

“There is broad agreement that interest arbitration needs to be improved,” said Russ Powers, AMO President. “This isn’t rocket science. Outcomes should be fair and balanced for everyone; decisions should be accountable and transparent for taxpayers; and arbitrators should be sensitive to fiscal challenges in communities.”

Interest arbitration settles contract disputes for emergency service workers when collective bargaining agreements can’t be reached. It is intended to ensure that outcomes are fair for employees who can’t strike. In practice, compensation for emergency service employees is growing at a much faster rate than compensation for public sector employees who can strike.

Because of their responsibilities, emergency service workers will always be among the highest paid public service employees in Ontario. The challenge is how to make fair adjustments. To be fair, arbitrators should consider economic circumstances and agreements that have been made with other employees.

“We are pleased that the authors of this Bill took time to consult with Ontario’s municipal governments and to study AMO’s proposals. Municipal input is reflected in this Bill. Consultation and cooperation between governments is in the best interest of Ontario’s communities,” said Powers.

MPP Wilson’s Bill, the Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act, 2013, builds on the one he introduced last September. It died on the order paper when the Legislature prorogued in October. Months earlier, the Government tried to balance interest arbitration in their 2012 Budget, but that attempt fell short on content and support. It launched another effort last October through a draft bill, The Respecting Collective Bargaining Act, 2012, which has not been introduced.

“Municipal leaders with diverse political views support this Bill. AMO hopes that Members of the Legislature will work together, seize this opportunity, and pass much-needed legislation.”

Analysis of MPP Wilson’s Bill and the government’s draft proposals are available on AMO’s website, along with AMO’s February 2013 Interest Arbitration Checklist and related backgrounders.

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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