July 19, 2017

All of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments support improving our employees’ lives through better working conditions, more predictable income, and access to needed personal time. We have already acted on these goals and, as employers, we are proud of the work that we do to provide great employment opportunities for thousands of Ontario workers. In fact, communities generally see municipal governments as an “employer of choice”. Municipal governments operate in a transparent environment and are directly accountable to the residents and businesses we serve in each community.

As we review Bill 148, we would observe that the focus of the government’s proposed reform initiatives appear to be aimed at non-municipal sectors that provide for employment that is different from that commonly found in the municipal sector. That may include workers engaged in precarious employment, although defining precarity is a challenging task unto itself. Regardless of the definition, precarity is not a characteristic common to the employment relationships found in the municipal sector.

Municipal governments provide most of the needs of daily life as well as emergency services to our communities. On the face of this proposed legislation, we are concerned that municipal employers will be disproportionally impacted given our large range of mandated services. We are therefore concerned that in its effort to aim relief at a targeted segment of the labour market, this legislation will overshoot the mark and result in significant and unnecessarily costly unintended consequences.

Municipal governments employ just under a quarter of a million employees (238,000) and 1 in 30 employed Ontarians works for a municipal government. About 70% of these employees are bargaining unit members and the majority of the balance of staff have employment conditions that mirror collective agreement entitlements. In our view, municipal governments are responsible employers who understand that stable and fair employment enables our staff to contribute to the local community and its economy. Municipal governments are also prohibited from having operating deficits.

While we support the public policy spirit behind this Bill, this submission focuses on areas that are the most significant concern of municipal governments. Specifically, we would like to underscore our proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act, the impact that Bill 148’s proposed changes would have on volunteer fire services and two changes to the Labour Relations Act.

There is an appendix that provides all of AMO’s proposed amendments for easy reference as well as further statistical background on municipal governments.