And the money for police rolls in …

Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee, shown in 2006. - Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee, shown in 2006. | Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

McGuinty blamed for Toronto Police wage hikes

KAREN HOWLETT

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, May. 10, 2011 9:26PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, May. 10, 2011 9:29PM EDT

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/mcguinty-blamed-for-toronto-police-wage-hikes/article2017612/

The head of the Toronto Police Services Board says the McGuinty government is to blame for a tentative accord that awards the city’s police wage hikes exceeding 11 per cent over four years, making them the highest-paid officers in Canada.

The deal the province recently reached with the Ontario Provincial Police set the tone for negotiations with officers in large municipalities, board chairman Alok Mukherjee says in an open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty.

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“Our province has a long history of driving up the costs of policing through deals given to the OPP,” Mr. Mukherjee says in the letter, released on Tuesday. “This has set the provincewide police bargaining pattern.”

The OPP contract includes a 5.075-per-cent increase in the first year, followed by a two-year freeze and a guarantee that it will be the province’s highest paid force by 2014.

Over all, the letter says, the OPP will receive wage increases of 14.06 per cent over four years, including a 1-per-cent increase in retention pay in each of two years.

In an interview, Mr. Mukherjee faulted the Premier for comparing the Toronto police deal to other non-police agreements, saying his comments “further muddied” public perception of a contract that has been panned as overly generous by some City Hall councillors.

Mr. McGuinty referred to the tentative accord with the Toronto Police Association last Friday, when he was defending a secret deal his government struck with the province’s largest public sector union. As first reported by globeandmail.com, 38,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union will receive a quiet top-up of 1 per cent in 2012, in addition to a scheduled wage increase of 2 per cent.

Mr. McGuinty told reporters the four-year deal for OPSEU members includes wage increases totalling 8.75 per cent, well below 11.5 per cent for Toronto Police.

“You tell me who’s getting the best deal here for our taxpayers,” he said.

A government official said the province has been playing catch-up with municipal police forces.

With a report from Patrick White