ANTONELLA ARTUSO, QMI Agency
OPP officers in some units will be getting raises despite a Queen’s Park salary freeze, a document obtained by QMI Agency shows. In some cases, constables will get a 2% annual premium in 2012 and a 4% hike in 2013. (QMI Agency file photo)
TORONTO - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government has quietly given many Ontario Provincial Police officers a significant pay hike despite a so-called salary freeze.
An appendix to the OPP's collective agreement, obtained by QMI Agency, reveals that constables assigned to a number of units will get a 2% annual premium in 2012 and a 4% annual premium in 2013.
These hikes are in addition to the 8.5% pay increase the OPP is scheduled to receive in 2014.
McGuinty told reporters Tuesday that he was proud OPP officers had accepted zero pay increases for 2012 and 2013, respecting his government's call for a broader public sector salary freeze in light of the province's large deficit.
"It's a two-year pay freeze," McGuinty said of the OPP deal. "That's what we've been looking for,"
However, the contract appendix lists 11 different units, branches and positions where OPP officers will not see their compensation frozen, including canine handler, emergency response team, detective constable, sergeant, staff sergeant, forensic identification and traffic re-constructionist.
Andrew Chornenky, a spokesman for Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, said the increases only apply to certain positions whose salaries the government had previously agreed to review, about 15% of the force.
"It covers a small number of specialized officers that work in higher-risk positions," Chornenky said. "Across the board, we achieved a zero and zero agreement."
The provincial government has also agreed in the contract to make the OPP the highest paid police force in Ontario in 2014.
As QMI Agency reported on Monday, OPP officers will get an 8.5% "catch up" pay hike in 2014.
The McGuinty government has blamed the large increase on the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) which recently signed a tentative four-year 11.5% pay hike deal.
TPSB Chair Alok Mukherjee said the OPP contract was settled months before the board began bargaining with its own officers.
Mukherjee was aware when bargaining that OPP officers would likely get the 8.5% pay hike because the province had to top a deal previously reached with Peel Regional officers.
Arbitrators have told the TPSB that Toronto officers must be at the top of the police pay scale, so the board had little option but to give its officers 11.5%, he said.
"The problem, I think, is not that Toronto has been the rogue here," Mukherjee said. "The problem is that there's a pattern of bargaining that has happened province-wide ... which has resulted in a trend of settlements that we are all hostage to."
TPSB vice-chair Michael Thompson said the province must reform the arbitration system that forces public salaries ever higher with little consideration for a municipality's ability to pay.
When the province gives large increases to the OPP, all large municipal forces must follow suit or risk having an arbitrator replicate the OPP agreement, Thompson said.
"It's interesting that both the premier and the finance minister have been giving the impression that somehow ... Toronto has given this vast amount that's out of line, it's not in keeping with what they have offered the OPP," Thompson said. "We know in fact that not to be true. They, themselves, must know that as well."
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Renting a Cop is more expensive than hiring a lawyer. Our police across
Canada engage in official extortion. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the
pay scale of cops and the rates extorted by them are an insult to the
fundamental principles of justice.
Our police charge, outragious amounts for "police reports" that really should be free to prevent abuses of power. The Charges are a way of enabling our police to flagrantly abuse their powers to prevent complaints.
When the Provinces legislate an end to "Paid Duty" and fees for reports of police, we will start to see some accountability.
More accountability is needed when Police lay fabricated criminal charges. Currently, our corrupt courts make it next to impossible to Sue police when they engage in abuses of Power.
Its enough to make you want to puke.