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Tories make election-style arbitration reform promise in Nepean Laura Mueller

EMC news - Two Tory MPPs made a campaign-style stop in Nepean on July 16 to affirm their desire to fix Ontario’s “broken” arbitration system. Although his party currently doesn’t have power to make the proposed changes, John Yakabuski, MPP for Renfew-Nipising-Pembroke, said that under a minority Liberal government, his Progressive Conservative party must be prepared for an election at any time. As part of a series of cam-

paign trail-type tours across the province, Yakabuski came to old Nepean city hall – Ben Franklin Place – on July 16 to present his party’s proposal to change the provincial rules for public sector salary arbitration. He said the recent provincial budget failed to address the issue of “ballooning” public sector wages that are on the verge of bankrupting the municipalities that are stuck paying the salaries, Yakabuski said. He said the message the PCs are getting from Ontario mayors is that the province

“thumbs its nose” at municipalities and expects them to be able to raise property taxes to account for large public sector wage increases that have been arbitrated at the provincial level. The new Ontario Labour Relations Act rules proposed by PC leader Tim Hudak’s caucus would require arbitrators to ensure their decisions reflect the fiscal realities of the municipalities the decisions affect, including the cost of living and local budget constraints. The Liberal government did move to increase the

speed and transparency of the arbitration process, said Sarah Petrevan, spokeswoman for Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli, but the Tories blocked their efforts. “This is what municipalities asked for and this is what we tried to do … Unfortunately we didn’t get any co-operation from the other parties on this budget initiative,” Petrevan wrote in an email. “The Conservatives decided to vote against the interest arbitration system changes that they campaigned on.” The Liberal budget initiative would have required ar-


bitrators to provide written reasons demonstrating that they have given proper consideration to the statutory criteria, created deadlines for arbitration decisions and sent unsolved matters straight to the Labour Relations Board if they fail to meet the deadline, Petrevan wrote. Coming out with this proposal after failing to support an almost identical Liberal initiative amounts to “putting political games ahead of the interests of the Ontario public,” Petrevan wrote. Former finance critic and current Tory MPP Norm Miller was also on hand at the July 16 event to deliver an example from near his riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka. In

Owen Sound, the cost of the city’s fire service is expected to rise to $4.2 million from $3.7 million last year as a result of retroactive benefits and wage increases awarded by an arbitrator, Miller said. Any city in Ontario could face similar increases under the province’s current arbitration system, Miller said. The PCs have also made promises to balance the budget by reducing the size and cost of government, lower taxes for businesses, reduce the number of provincial regulations by at least a third, prioritize “affordable energy” to create economic growth and modernize the apprenticeship system to create 200,000 new skilled trades jobs.

Mom, can we go to another one? Laura Mueller

Two Tory MPPs – Norm Miller of Parry Sound-Muskoka and John Yakabuski of Renfew-Nipissing-Pembroke – were at old Nepean city hall on July 16 to deliver the Progressive Conservative Party’s message of how it would change the province’s arbitration system if the PCs were in power.

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4 West Carleton Review EMC - Thursday, July 19, 2012


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West Carleton Review EMC  
West Carleton Review EMC  

July 19, 2012