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Toronto-A decision by the Court of Appeal for Ontario has ruled that the government-imposed system of deciding labour arbitrations under HLDAA (Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act) using predominantly retired judges, is biased.

The decision also concludes that the current Minister of Labour interfered with the impartiality of arbitrators by changing the existing process for interest arbitrations.

What weve been saying is that collective agreements are being decided by ill-equipped, unknowledgeable retired judges who have been hand picked by the Tory government to ratchet down the already low wages in this sector.

Yesterday the Tories were levelled a black eye and its a victory for health care workers in the province, says Sid Ryan the Ontario president of the Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE).

CUPE, which represents approximately 70,000 health care workers in Ontario, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) were the appellants in the case.

The court award highlights a letter written in 1998 by the then Minister of Labour that commits to using the existing roster of approved and acceptable arbitrators. But, the current minister did not follow through on that commitment. Not only was the course abandoned, but the Minister proceeded in an entirely different direction, one that in the circumstances might be regarded as provocative or defiant, states the court decision.

This is a minister that revels in provoking labour and hurting workers. This biased and unfair system almost led us to an illegal hospital strike because front line workers were so incensed. Many of these judges have arbitrated unprecedented roll-backs of our collective agreements, says Ryan.

Also under the system, the cost of arbitrations skyrocketed from $5,000, to in some cases as much as $30,000.


For more information please contact:

Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
(416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774