On September 12, 2012, a Private Member’s Bill was introduced which contains the PC Party of Ontario’s proposed changes to the current arbitration system.

The Act highlights three key points:

  • when making decisions and to explain those decisions in writing;
  • Establish a panel of independent arbitrators to decide public sector cases within three months; and
  • Dedicate an “Ability to Pay Division” that would publish data and comparative information on compensation, as well as proactively disclose all arbitration decisions.
The Act is expected to go to the second reading on October 4, 2012. For more detailed information on the Bill, please visit the Ontario PC’s website. AMO is analyzing the Bill and will keep members informed of this and its on-going status.

Earlier this year, the government wrote municipalities indicating that during the current legislative session it would re-introduce its arbitration provisions that were originally contained in its Budget Bill. Those provisions were not extensive and did nothing to clarify the ability to pay criteria. At this point, we are not aware of the government’s plans, whether to work with this Bill or introduce its own.

AMO and others believe that the clarity on ability to pay is important to re-balancing the process in a way that supports accountability and transparency of decisions made by arbitrators since their decisions impact municipal costs, budgets and taxes. Arbitration continues to be an important issue to AMO and its members.

Arbitration awards are contributing to ever rising emergency services costs across Ontario, rising faster than other municipal services, the cost of living and the rate of inflation. These disproportionate increases stretch municipal budgets and draw funds away from other vital programs and services.
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