During the election, the Progressive Conservatives promised to “reform” Ontario’s system of interest arbitration that resolves collective bargaining impasses. Had the Conservatives won, many new constraints and criteria would have been imposed, most certainly to the detriment of unions and workers.
With the election of a minority Liberal government, the question now turns to what, if any, change might be expected from the returned, although minority, McGuinty Liberal government.
Although the Liberals did not include any arbitration reform proposals in their platform, McGuinty did respond to the Conservatives’ promised in a speech to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in August. Here is an excerpt from that speech summarizing his views:
“If the process is tilted in favour of either employers or labour, arbitration will lose credibility and cause acrimony. That means lost productivity and extra costs for taxpayers….Tipping the balance in favour of employers would lead to service disruptions and threats to public safety in the long run. That may not stop my opposition from going there. They may even welcome that conflict. But we’re not going there.”
If the Liberals are true to their word, we can expect minimal, if any, interventions in how the interest arbitration system works in Ontario.