Skip to main content

Liberals conceal ugly concessions (as other wages rise)

The proposed public sector "compensation restraint"  legislation floated on Wednesday by the Liberals is neatly silent on whether the government will impose contract concessions on 500,000 working people.

The government consistently talks of a "compensation freeze" or "compensation restraint".  Obligingly, the media has usually repeated that framing of the issue, as if it were the main bone of contention between the government and the unions.

But actions speak louder than words and it it is quite clear from the terms the government is actually imposing on school board workers (through Bill 115) that contract concessions rather than a contract freeze is what the government has in mind.

While I will leave it to the lawyers to have the final word on the proposed legislation, the government's proposed Respecting Collective Bargaining Act 2012 artfully leaves the framework of the contracts to be imposed undefined.  The "mandates" that will set the terms for those agreements will be set by the Management Board of Cabinet and won't be revealed until after the legislation is passed:

Mandates and criteria 
5.  (1)  The Management Board of Cabinet may issue one or more mandates setting out criteria that may be used to determine whether a collective agreement is consistent with the Province’s goals to eliminate the deficit and protect the delivery of public services.
So they aren't saying exactly what they will impose. This allows the Liberals to keep to their "compensation freeze" message track -- and to encourage some wan hope before the legislation is passed that perhaps it won't be so bad. 

But it also gives the Liberals a free hand to impose some pretty bad deals once the legislation passes the (minority) legislature.   

This when average weekly wages in Ontario are up 3.4%  over the last year (as of August 2012) and public sector union wage settlements are averaging half of that. 

The proposed legislation also indicates that the mandates may vary from one group of workers to another, opening up the possibility for different treatment of one set of workers from another:
Same(2)  Different mandates may be issued with respect to different sectors, classes of employers or particular employers, classes of employees and the corresponding bargaining organizations.

Finally, the proposed legislation opens up the possibility that some agreements already signed may meet the criteria that will be established in the mandate.

Criteria(3)  The criteria may address matters of compensation and service delivery and such other matters as the Management Board of Cabinet considers appropriate.
Transition(4)  Without limiting the generality of subsection (3), the criteria may have effect with respect to a period before the date on which this subsection comes into force, if a collective agreement to which the mandate applies has effect before that date.
Will an already signed agreement meet the Liberals' mandate?  That is bound to concern some.

Vagueness has always been a main play by the Liberals, and so it continues here.


  1. Meanwhile Lib posters federally are suggesting the poster child Justin will save the day - nay, it's another pretend Liberal to the rescue who will do the switch-a-roo.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…