Ford government modernizes ‘interest arbitration’ for Ontario’s fire sector

Ford government modernizes ‘interest arbitration’ for Ontario’s fire sector

In Ontario, firefighters do not have the right to strike.

Instead of strikes or lockouts, collective bargaining disputes are resolved through what’s called “interest arbitration.”
Municipalities and fire chiefs have long-standing concerns about Ontario’s “interest arbitration” system. Many stakeholders have complained about unsustainable compensation increases, unreasonable delays and seemingly unreasonable decisions.
Some municipalities have even described Ontario’s interest arbitration system as “broken.” The Ford Progressive Conservative government wants this to change.
This is why we modernized “interest arbitration” for Ontario’s fire sector. Our legislation will require arbitrators to consider the economic health of the municipality and the settlements reached with employees in that community. Factors will include concrete criteria like labour market, property tax and socio-economic characteristics, as well as purely local factors including the interest and well-being of the community.
Our reforms will also require arbitrators to provide, upon request, written reasons clearly demonstrating that the criteria were considered. And, our reforms will introduce single-person boards of arbitration — the same approach used in the police sector.
The legislation includes a provision which requires the arbitrator to keep the minister of labour advised of the progress of each arbitration. This means that, if an arbitration decision is not rendered within the timelines under the legislation, the minister of labour can issue an order to ensure that the award is rendered within a reasonable period of time.
These reforms help our government deliver on key priorities including improving accountability, transparency and efficiency in government.
These reforms have been well received by both the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.
I believe that Ontario’s workers understand that cutting red tape and fiscal prudence are the way to a more efficient and productive economy.
Workers across all trades and professions treat their hard-earned money with respect and they spend it prudently. They want their governments to do the same.
— Whitby MPP Lorne Coe is the chief government whip. He can be reached at