Cornwall Ontario — On Thursday, April 11, MPP Jim McDonell joined his Ontario PC Caucus colleagues voting in favour of the Capacity to Pay Act 2013. The Act would have enacted significant reforms to the current arbitration system and answered demands being made by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). The Bill was voted down by a joint effort of Liberal and New Democrat MPPs.
MPP Jim McDonell commented: “A decade of deliberate decisions by the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals has resulted in government workers’ wages soaring 55%, which is 27% more than the private sector that pays the bills. The current system is not fair and is putting important services at risk – like fire trucks, police cruisers and health care services. Under the current broken arbitration system, decisions are taking years to be reached and forcing increasingly unaffordable settlements for municipal government workers on taxpayers. And all because the arbitrators who manage this system think local governments can just keep raising taxes to pay for them.”
The Act would have enshrined capacity to pay as a principle for arbitrated settlements, which would have to take into account local economic factors such as the evolution of the tax base and local unemployment statistics. Arbitration deadlines would be tightened to allow municipalities to budget efficiently. Lastly, a Capacity to Pay Division would collate wage information data from the Province and provide public access to arbitration decisions as they are delivered.
MPP McDonell highlighted the broad support enjoyed by the Capacity to Pay Act: “Our initiative has the support of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and numerous Municipal Councils, including Cornwall. Yet the last time the PCs tried to pass a law making the changes they need, it was voted down by the Liberals and NDP. These parties need to explain why they oppose our sensible proposals. Instead of appeasing government worker unions, they need to learn that every dollar handed to them comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.”