Labour arbitrator rules against Thunder Bay Police Services Board

Arbitrator Kelly Waddingham ruled that the board was in the wrong when it refused last-minute court cancellation pay to an officer whose court appearance was cancelled.

The Thunder Bay Police Association had grieved several denials of last-minute court cancellation pay

A labour arbitrator has ruled that the Thunder Bay Police Services Board must pay officers last-minute cancellation pay for court appearances that are cancelled on short notice, regardless of the reason for the cancellation. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

A labour arbitrator has ruled against the Thunder Bay Police Services Board in the case of an officer who was denied short-notice court cancellation pay when his court appearance was cancelled at the last minute. 

Officers are entitled to four hours' straight time pay for appearances cancelled with less than 24-hours notice, according to the ruling, but the board argued it didn't owe anything to Sergeant Justin Dubuc because Dubuc testified during one day of the hearing in question and wasn't needed for the rest.

It said the fact that he finished his testimony didn't mean his appearance was cancelled, according to the ruling. 

But arbitrator Kelly Waddingham wrote that it made no difference why Dubuc was no longer needed in court; he was entitled to compensation for the last-minute change in scheduling. 

The reason for the cancellation pay provision in the collective agreement, she wrote, is "to compensate the officer for disruption or inconvenience caused by the shortness of the notice." 

"Nothing in the wording of the provision suggests that there is any relevance to the reason why the officer is no longer required to attend court," she added.  

Dubuc's was one of several rejected cancellation payments grieved by the Thunder Bay Police Association.

According to Waddingham's decision, the board conceded that it erred in the cases of four other officers whose appearances were cancelled for other reasons, such as the accused pleading guilty or the postponement of a trial.  

One of those officers had cancelled a holiday to attend court.