On Monday October 22, 2018 Ontarians will go to the polls to vote in the municipal election.

All elected municipal officials, regardless of the size of their municipality, will face issues related to finances, property taxes and the provision of services. In Ontario the cost of providing emergency services, whether it is fire, police or paramedic services, is increasing at a fast rate.

The Emergency Services Steering Committee was established in 2005 as a joint committee of the municipalities of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards to help municipalities address the rising cost of emergency services.

Over the last year, the ESSC has met with provincial and municipal decisions-makers to provide feedback on a range of issues including:

  • Ambulance Act (particularly paramedics on fire trucks)
  • Police Services Act
  • Fire/paramedic services dispatch

Ontario’s interest arbitration process is one of the most important parts of our advocacy as it directly affects the cost of emergency services. ESSC has been advocating for reform to this process for many years and believes the interest arbitration system should be amended to:

  • Improve accountability and transparency of arbitration awards by:
    • requiring arbitrators to consider a municipality’s capacity to pay based on a comparison of the freely negotiated bargaining settlements in the same municipality, including those of bargaining units with the right to strike and demonstrate such consideration in their awards
    • criteria for comparison of wage settlements should not be limited to a replication of outcomes from the emergency services sector
  • Establish clear, measurable criteria that include the evaluation of the economic health of the municipality to be considered on the basis of the labour market characteristics, property tax and socio-economic factors
  • Enable either party to request written reasons for an arbitrator’s award and ensure such reasons demonstrate that the arbitrator gave due and proper consideration to the criteria
  • Adopt a single arbitrator model which allows the parties to use an arbitration panel only upon mutual consent
  • Implement procedural changes to ensure the arbitration system is timely and fair to both parties

We look forward to continue working closely with municipalities and all Mayors, Chairs, Wardens, Reeves and Councillors throughout the province to address the rising cost of emergency services.