Commentary by Linda Saxon
Readers of the burg watch have submitted three separate questions regarding the contentious Amherstburg police contract clause about switching specifically to OPP policing.
Current Police Services Board member and mayoral candidate John Sutton has not answered any questions, nor has current Police Services Board member and council candidate Frank Cleminson.
Current Police Services Board member and council candidate Pauline Gemmell responded, but did not answer specific questions or commit to the removal of the clause.
Regarding Gemmell’s statement, “The buyout clause is outlined in the contract. As with any corporation preparing to lay off large numbers (this would be situation here) the Employment Standards Act prescribes the basic requirements for any payout,” follow up questions were emailed: are you suggesting that there would be lay offs at the police service? can you provide me with the section of the Employment Standards Act that prescribes the basic requirements for any such payout?
Gemmell’s response is, “The ESA provides for basic but in the case of a contract those requirements are typically more than what ESA provides. Have you spoken to Chief Berthieume about this? He is very helpful when anyone from the public asks questions.”
The three questions in full, along with Gemmell’s responses are:
Question 6: If elected, will you commit to council obtaining an OPP costing and if appointed to the police services board, will you commit to removing the OPP takeover clause in the police contract? If running for re-election, why did you not consider doing the above?
The current costing model for OPP is changing and as such will be difficult to get a clear cost for OPP at this time. I think that council should always be looking at the cost of all services and be looking to less expensive and equal quality alternatives. We have a great Police service here in Amherstburg and there are many benefits that we enjoy as a result of having a local police service. Our officers are skilled and dedicated to this community.
Question 13: The Town now is in the process of negotiating a new contract with our local police force. Within this contract (expires Dec 2014) is a clause which if activated could cost our town dearly! What is your knowledge of this buyout clause? what is your understanding of the rational behind the inclusion of it in our contract? What and how many officers would be involved? What would be the cost to our town if enforced one day? From my understanding, we are talking anywhere from 8-10 million dollars would be paid out to officers changing uniforms, not losing jobs? Your thoughts please!
I believe that our Police provide an excellent service. The buyout clause is outlined in the contract. As with any corporation preparing to lay off large numbers (this would be situation here) the Employment Standards Act prescribes the basic requirements for any payout. Beyond that the town would be required to honor provisions found in the contract.
We have a good and effective police service in our community. The cost factor needs to be discussed once the negotiations but other factors also must be considered along with the cost factor. It’s important that we all know what would be the result of having OPP in our community instead of our own police services. We need to look to other communities who have done this. Where are the officers dispatched from? There is a new costing formula and that also needs to be considered.
Question 18: Do you believe the Poison Pill Clause should be eliminated in the Police Contract in order to get an OPP costing to compare the costs of policing of OPP versus Amherstburg Police.
Having a costing for alternative services is not dependent on a clause in a contract. The police services is currently beginning to prepare to negotiate a new contract and as such this is something that should be considered during these negotiations.