February 23, 2016

Issue:
Yesterday, after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario, called off plans for a province-wide, illegal strike in protest of Bill 206, the Government committed to a 6-year review of the new governance model for OMERS.

Background:
In the past weeks, CUPE has been threatening to initiate an illegal, province-wide strike if the Government introduced Bill 206 for Third Reading without amendments sought by CUPE.

The Government responded by stating that it would make no further changes to the Bill. It has made no further amendments. On Tuesday, the Government introduced the Bill for Third Reading debate and has filed a notice of “time allocation” that would cut short the Third Reading debate in the Legislature.

Late last night, the Government announced that it would introduce additional legislation that would require a review of the effectiveness of the Bill’s governance provisions (e.g., voting, structure, and arbitration) by 2012 after two actuarial cycles.  

The Government understood that any review would have to consider both OMERS employer and employee interests. Any consequent recommendations are not to be binding on the Government in any way. CUPE won no concessions with this undertaking of a 6-year review. Periodic review provisions are common in legislation, e.g., Municipal Act 2001, but, inexplicably, none was provided in Bill 206.

Municipal concerns about Bill 206 have included governance provisions and the importance of a unanimous or 2/3rds majority decision-making framework for key decisions affecting OMERS contributions and benefit changes. AMO’s and CUPE’s concerns are diametrically opposed in this regard.

Bill 206 is designed to enrich the retirement benefits of municipal emergency services workers at the expense of property tax payers and diminished public services to Ontarians. To date, the Government has refused to provide any evidence that it has considered the cost implications for property tax payers.

Action:
AMO will monitor the situation and keep members informed.