The Ontario government’s 11,500 unionized managers and professional employees have ratified a four-year contract agreement that gives them a wage hike of 1.4 per cent in each of the last two years.
The endorsement of the deal by the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario, which includes no increases for the first two years, was announced Thursday by the Liberal government. This new agreement follows a two-year contract that included no wage hikes in both 2012 and 2013.
“This agreement is an essential part of the government’s plan to control spending and protect the valued public services that the people of Ontario rely on,” Treasury Board president Deb Matthews stated in a news release.
The government insists the agreement is consistent with the fiscal plan outlined in the 2014 budget, which includes no new funding for compensation increases.
“The cost of wage increases in 2016 and 2017 is being offset over the four-year term through changes to benefits and entitlements, making it a net zero agreement. One of these changes is the elimination of exit pay, which will reduce future costs and save taxpayers approximately $55 million this year,” the government news release stated.
Tory critic MPP Lisa MacLeod said with the Liberal government “zero never means zero.”
“I predicted long ago that there would be some formula that would ensure that there would be pay increases during negotiations,” MacLeod said
“This is a Liberal government that is not committed at all to any of its deficit reduction targets,” she said.
Despite wrestling with a $12.5-billion deficit, the cash-strapped Liberal government has not passed wage freeze legislation.
Union president Gary Gannage said his members felt it was the best deal that could be reached at this time of fiscal restraint and pointed to the fact the ratification vote almost 97 per cent in favour.
“They have clearly looked at the situation and determined that, notwithstanding, we did pretty good,” he told the Star.
Gannage explained the exit pay the union gave up really refers to a separation or termination pay, which went to retiring Ontario Public Service employees or those who voluntarily left based on their years of service.