Wilson: Arbitrators Must Account for Taxpayers' Ability to Pay
18 September 2012
“Ontario arbitration law favours unions, mostly by giving them a veto over who the arbitrators are…Public sector workers always seem to get about half of what they demand – no matter how ludicrous the demands. They win over and over and over, and taxpayers pay and pay and pay.
- The Windsor Star, September 18, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – The Ontario PCs’ Ability to Pay Act would keep rogue arbitrators in line, ensuring they respect an employer’s ability to pay for government employee wages without assuming tax hikes can fund hefty increases, Ontario PC House Leader Jim Wilson said today.
“Far too many times, arbitrators have completely disregarded the ability of taxpayers to pay – awarding outrageous contract settlements for government employee unions,” Wilson said. “When an arbitrator openly states he didn’t look at a university’s negative financial situation before doling out $20 million in pay raises, the system is broken.”
Wilson pointed to an arbitrator’s decision in October 2010 that awarded University of Toronto professors and librarians a 4.5 per cent wage increase over two years. The award came with a $20 million bill – the equivalent of hiring 100 new professors – and happened under a Liberal ‘wage freeze.’ “Awards like these ignore economic realities. Recent graduates can’t find jobs, and wages for most Ontarians are stagnant. And yet these people must foot the bill for obscene arbitration decisions.”
Moreover, government employee wages are out of line with the private sector, Wilson continued. Last June, 10,000 TTC workers received increases that will cost taxpayers close to $100 million over the next three years. “Government transit workers already earn $10,600 more a year than private sector workers in similar jobs. TTC riders – many on tight budgets – will have their fares hiked again next year. Others will face property tax increases. Where’s the fairness in all this?”
“The Ontario PCs, mayors and countless employers have repeatedly called on the Liberals to fix the province’s broken arbitration system,” Wilson said. “Yet nothing has happened. Contrary to what some may think, taxpayers do not have deep pockets. More often these days, they’re empty pockets. Economic growth has been slow, and communities are strapped for cash.”
This is why the Ontario PCs have introduced the Ability to Pay Act, which would make the arbitration system more accountable to Ontarians, Wilson, who is sponsoring the bill, stated. For example, arbitrators would have to account for local economic and budgetary factors, including a taxpayers’ ability to pay, and explain their decisions in writing. The legislation would also require arbitrators to make a decision within a tight timeline of three months.
“The Ability to Pay Act is about standing up for taxpayers and communities,” Wilson concluded. “All parties in the Legislature need to support this bill, so we can get off the road of reckless overspending and get on the path to economic prosperity.”