OPP Payout Clause Remains In Amherstburg Police Contract

Commentary by Linda Saxon

Ron Giofu, River Town Times, reports that Amherstburg police, APSB agree on two-year contract.

Whether or not negotiations were underway has been written about multiple times, including referencing an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Decision regarding Sgt. Jim Saxon’s discrimination because of age complaint.

The Board requested the application be dismissed, suggesting the matter was appropriately dealt with at Conciliation and alternatively, requested it be deferred, pending the 2015 collective agreement negotiations, although no documentation was submitted indicating negotiations were ongoing. An Interim Decision was issued on June 23, 2014 by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal; “the Board’s requests to dismiss or defer the Application are denied.”

The police services board negotiates the contract and, since council has opted to have a five member board, typically for the size of a municipality with a population of 25,000 and more, two members of council are also members of the board: in this case, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Councillor Jason Lavigne. Otherwise, for a municipality the size of Amherstburg, a three member board would suffice and there would be one council rep on the board, pursuant to the Police Services Act.

Readers of the burg watch were concerned enough to have submitted three questions to candidates regarding the OPP poison pill clause during the 2014 municipal election campaign. Rightfully so.

The OPP provides policing services to the majority of the province’s municipalities, 324, that enjoy savings of approximately $1 million dollars annually; that equals about $17 million dollars in savings since amalgamation that, according to a CBC News report in May 2015, didn’t help smaller communitiesThe study finds significant increases in property taxes, compensation for municipal employees, and long term debt between 2000 and 2012; Amherstburg’s debt was another hot topic during the election campaign.

According to the RTT article, “While there still would be a $1 million payout to officers if town council were to agree to switch to OPP, DiCarlo said that would be made up in infrastructure costs. Wages and benefits would still likely remain at roughly the same level but the savings for the town would be in infrastructure costs of about $1 million per year.”

I would suggest that the $1 million dollar savings would not be in infrastructure, but rather wages and benefits as a result of not having an unnecessary top heavy hierarchical policing structure.

As previously noted, the 2012 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario included a Cost Comparison of Municipal Police Services, 2011; the estimated per capita cost of police services for a population between 15,000 and 49,999 was:

  • Municipal Police Service $284.00
  • OPP – with contract $150.00
  • OPP – no contract $131.00

Members of the board and the police association should recognize that it is in the community’s and ratepayers’ best interests for policing options to provide for optimal cost savings and, in my opinion, should not be limited based on a self serving clause in a collective agreement.