Last week, Premier Doug Ford’s government released its Fall Economic Statement (FES). The FES is like a mini-budget in that it sets out the government’s fiscal and economic policy. While many of the decisions announced through the FES will impact members’ lives, the Society wrote to members on November 19 about a specific new provincial policy around collective bargaining that is already having an impact on some Society members’ collective agreement renewal negotiations.
In a section of the FES titled A Renewed Approach to Managing Compensation, the government states:
“Moving forward, managing compensation costs represents a key element in the government’s plan to restore sustainability to the Province’s finances, and is an important step in making government more efficient and effective.
“As an initial step, Provincial agencies will now be required to obtain approval of their bargaining mandates and ratification of collective agreements. This requirement will apply to agencies with collective agreements that expire on or after December 31, 2018.”
The Society’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Local was the first to see the impact of this new policy, as it had begun negotiations on renewing their collective agreement that expires on December 31, 2018. On Friday, November 16, the IESO Local’s negotiating team was told by the employer’s side that it was suspending negotiations until at least December 11 pending instructions from the Ministry of Energy and Treasury Board.
At this point, the Progressive Conservative government’s new compensation management policy leaves more questions than answers, including which agencies are directly affected and whether the goal is to restrain, freeze or cut total compensation costs. Given that OPG Local’s collective agreement is in the hands of an arbitrator at the moment rather than being actively negotiated, the Society believes it will not be subject to this new policy. One thing we do know is that the government intends to play a central role in collective bargaining going forward. Given our experience with past government edicts on collective bargaining, your leadership expects the tone the government sets through their interventions to ripple across all negotiations regardless of sector.
The Society will continue to closely monitor the evolution of the provincial government’s new approach to managing compensation. As we do so, your leadership is committed to keeping members informed and sharing opportunities for members to get involved at all levels as we work to achieve fair collective agreements for every member in every sector.
Please contact your local representative if you have any questions or comments.
For the full Fall Economic Statement, go to https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/fallstatement/2018/index.html.
For a broader analysis of the FES and its impact on working people, please see the Ontario Federation of Labour's statement at https://ofl.ca/fall-economic-statement-shows-that-help-isnt-on-the-way-for-ontarians-says-ofl.