Commentary by Linda Saxon
The Amherstburg Police Services Board and the Amherstburg Police Association negotiated contracts that include retirement at age 60, contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, advised all Chiefs of Police on January 15, 2007 of the proclamation of the Ending Mandatory Retirement Statute Act.
On March 5, 2012, Chief Tim Berthiaume advised then-Sgt. Saxon that he had no benefits since he just turned 60, that the town hall staff advised him. The town switched from Great West Life to Sun Life in February 2012 to save an approximate $52,000.00 annually. The town hall staff handles payroll/benefits for the police service and AON Hewitt, a benefits management company, was under contract as the named broker of record for the town.
Health Benefits cease at 60 in the collective agreement, but the Board arbitrarily amended it by deleting the age 60 reference in that section.
Chief Berthiaume provided the Board with 2012 proposed rate increases for discussion of life, AD&D, short and long term disability coverage. Life insurance was secured to age 65; there is no reference to age in the collective agreement with respect to that benefit.
The Association and Board never met to discuss this matter; they ‘negotiated’ through correspondence and no record of a formal grievance was disclosed. The Board’s position was that the appropriate time for discussion would be during the 2015 contract negotiations.
An unsuccessful Conciliation Hearing was held on December 5, 2012.
The Association did not pursue Arbitration; Saxon was told it was a human rights matter, although Arbitrators can interpret and apply Human Rights legislation and there is no fee for a Rights Arbitrator.
The Association had previously been involved in two Interest Arbitrations; in 1990 when it obtained historical parity with Windsor Police (unlike Windsor, retention pay has not been negotiated in Amherstburg) and in 2008 for a 2.5% rate increase for one officer’s position.
Saxon filed a Human Rights Tribunal Application; the Association hired a lawyer to defend its position while the Board relied on the town lawyer. The Board requested dismissal, suggesting the matter was appropriately dealt with at Conciliation and alternatively, requested deferral, pending the 2015 collective agreement negotiations. No documentation was filed 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.”
In January 2014, Chief Tim Berthiaume inquired about rates for long term disability and referenced the 2015 collective agreement. Despite a 0% rate increase to extend short and long term disability benefits for officers above age 60, no change was made.
A new request has been submitted to the Board for the cost to the taxpayer to defend itself against the age discrimination complaint because, as posted previously, Amherstburg Police Services Board Ignored Question About Legal Fees.
Shame on the Board and the Association for not changing the collective agreement to reflect legislative changes to mandatory retirement and the human rights code regarding age, but negotiating the OPP takeover clause from 1998 to the current collective agreement and negotiating protection from discrimination because of Association membership.