02/13/2013

Remarks at AMO Interest Arbitration media briefing, February 14, 2013.
(Check Against Delivery)

Thank you.  

The Large Urban Mayors Caucus represents 25 larger municipalities from right across the province. 

We represent a broad variety of communities, as you can imagine when you bring together folks from Mississauga, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor and Kingston and many places in between. 

Yet we face many of the same challenges. And I can tell you that on this issue – we are all in the same boat and of the same mind. 

The arbitration system needs improvement.  

And as we are working together, we want all political parties and leaders to work together to improve interest arbitration and get this right. 

We have seen growing consensus that we need to make some changes.  We now need to work with one another, regardless of political stripe, to deliver what is in the best interest of the people of Ontario. 

And the people of Ontario deserve to have transparency. They deserve to understand decisions impacting substantial tax dollars.  

Emergency services has been a top priority for LUMCO and we have invested a considerable amount of time learning about the impact of interest arbitration on our communities. 

We have considerable data, analysis and knowledge on the issue and we are eager to work with our provincial partners.  

We can help make sure any changes to the process will achieve meaningful results in terms of a more efficient, accountable and transparent system.

It is time to shine a light on arbitrators’ decisions. 

Our communities need to understand why their dollars are being spent in a certain manner.

They need to know that their pocket books were considered, that their communities well-being was considered, when pay raises are doled out. 

A set of measurable criteria will help arbitrators look at the relevant economic facts, as you’ll see on the check list. 

These are all factors that paint an accurate picture of a municipality’s fiscal health.  

It helps arbitrators evaluate the depth of financial resources available to a municipality, including competing demands on those resources, and the capacity of community to give more.  

For too long, arbitrators have made delivering comparable awards the primary objective, without demonstrating that they looked at how the total cost of a compensation package will affect a municipality, and its residents. 

One size does not fit all.

Introducing clarity to the process, introducing accountability, will not ensure one decision over another. 

But it will help arbitrators make decisions that reflect the community’s needs and capacity.