OPP officers, staff win pay hikes through arbitration
Police get annual raise above 2% as Ford government cuts force's budget by nearly 4%
Ontario Provincial Police officers and civilian staff are getting new wage increases, just as the Ford government reveals it is cutting provincial funding to the force by nearly 4 per cent.
CBC News has obtained a copy of the arbitration award issued this week for the nearly 10,000 members of the OPP Association.
Uniformed OPP officers get a 2.15 per cent raise retroactive to Jan. 1, then wage increases averaging two per cent annually over the next three years.
Civilian staff receive pay hikes of 1.25 per cent in each of the first two years of the contract, then one per cent annually in the final two years.
"I think it's a fair settlement and I think there's some great things in there for our members," said OPP Association president Rob Jamieson in an interview Friday.
Salaries account for more than $800 million of the OPP's budget. The wage increases would translate into $10 to $15 million in added costs.
Provincial budget details released on Thursday show the government is reducing its $1.1 billion in annual funding to the OPP by $46 million.
There will be absolutely no impact to public safety, said a spokesperson for the cabinet minister responsible for the OPP.
"The OPP is doing its part to address the financial challenges facing our province," said Marion Ringuette, press secretary to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
"The OPP is becoming more efficient by streamlining corporate offices, improving maintenance so vehicles last longer, and making financial reallocations of funds."
Ontario already spends more per capita on policing than any other province, according to a recent submission to the Legislature by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Last month, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli's budget indicated the province intended to save $30 million annually in the OPP through what it calls "workforce optimization," such as better management of overtime and scheduling.
The arbitration award shows that no deal has been reached to change the scheduling terms in the OPP collective agreement.
The arbitrator is ordering the government and the OPP Association to sit down to try to sort through their differences on scheduling, including "posted schedules" and "time off between shifts and court."
If the two sides haven't agreed to terms within a year, the scheduling issue can go back to arbitration.
As a result of the arbitration award, OPP officers and civilian staff will no longer face limits to their benefit coverage for psychological counselling.
"When we talk about the mental health and well-being of our members, unlimited psychology for those members who are seeking assistance, it's an absolute victory, it's a huge accomplishment," said Jamieson.
Civilian staff also receive pension plan improvements to their pension plan, allowing them to receive full pension once their age plus years of service total 85.
The OPP provides policing service to more than 300 municipalities in the province. It has 6,200 uniformed members and 3,600 civilian staff.