August 13-16, OPFFA representatives attended the 2017 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference, Globalization Meets Main Street.
During the event delegates Ann Bryan and Mark Train participated in insight meetings, plenary sessions and breakout sessions each involving different areas of municipal government.
AMO President Lynn Dollin provided the AMO Reports Out: “Where We’ve Been and Where We are Going” session where the OPFFA was mentioned on several occasions. She spoke of a sixteen-month failed attempt to revise the interest arbitration system however was remiss in reporting the changes made just prior that included exchange of briefs in advance of hearings and the limitation of Arbitrators to return items to the parties for further negotiations. Having participated in meetings with the Minister of Labour and AMO representatives it is still our contention that generally our municipalities attend interest arbitration poorly prepared and, in some instances, they rely on the interest arbitration system to have the arbitrator write an award that includes agreed- to items to deflect the blame from local municipal leaders to the arbitration system. The misunderstanding of the arbitration system is evident when they improperly have perpetuated the belief that arbitrators will force municipalities to adopt our proposed Fire Fighter/Primary Care Paramedic program against their will. We are under the understanding that this lies outside of the jurisdiction of arbitrators in Ontario as the municipality has the full and exclusive jurisdiction to establish service levels in a municipality.
Although the provincial government has not formally announced legislative changes to the Land Ambulance Act and or other legislation as of yet, AMO, CUPE and OPSEU all made many claims about the initiative. Your Executive Committee has not made comment and is awaiting the release of proposed legislation and public hearings before doing so.
In keeping with their social media campaigns CUPE distributed ‘Message’ sheets to delegates with misguided talking points about ‘Fire Medics’and about maverick paramedics operating outside of medical oversight. The reality is that fire-based paramedics serve other Canadian cities and the majority of the US population every day.
OPSEU Paramedics distributed a document entitled “Fire-Medic Facts…Not opinion” that largely provided cherry-picked statistics about how many fire fighters the OPFFA represents (failing to report that we represent 90+% of full time professional fire fighters, reporting some fire statistics as reported by the Fraser Institute, and some tidbits about hours of work taken from the Employment Standards Act and others.