Carola Vyhnak and Kate Allen
“A first-class constable earning $81,249 in 2010 will make $90,623 in 2014 if the agreement is ratified.”
Toronto police officers will become the highest paid in the country with a deal that provides salary increases totalling 11.5 per cent over the next four years.
A tentative agreement reached earlier this week provides a 3.19 per cent increase this year, almost 3 per cent in each of the next two years, and 2 per cent in 2014. An initial pay hike of 2.75 per cent is retroactive to Jan. 1 and will be followed by another 0.44 per cent in October.
Details of the collective agreement were presented to members of the Toronto Police Association Wednesday night. The union, representing almost 5,600 officers and 2,100 civilian members, has recommended acceptance.
It is believed to be the first time the association has negotiated a four-year contract. The term was extended from the usual three years in order to get a better overall package, the union explained in a 28-page ratification booklet handed out at the meeting.
Union members will vote on the agreement by mail-in ballot due May 25.
“I like it,” a 30-year veteran of the police service said after the meeting. “In this economic climate, how can you not?”
A first-class constable earning $81,249 in 2010 will make $90,623 in 2014 if the agreement is ratified.
Councillor Pam McConnell, former police services board vice-chair, called the settlement “a bit rich,” given the state of the economy. But she noted the financial benefits of a quick settlement, saying “quite an amount of money (will be) saved by that, and goodwill across the table is unmeasurable.”
The deal also includes improved vacations and increases in benefits such as vision care and massage therapy. In what the union calls “the first improvement . . . in a long time,” extra vacation weeks will be granted earlier in a long-serving police officer’s career.
The last police contract expired Dec. 31. Negotiations between the union and the Toronto Police Services Board began in January.
The net $905.9 million police operating budget is the largest single item on the city budget. Salaries, benefits and overtime account for nearly 90 per cent of it.
The police service was under pressure from the Ford administration to cut costs along with every other city agency.
“We knew that this was going to be a difficult round of bargaining,” the union said in its ratification package. “We believe we are in a position to recommend that you accept this contract as being fair and reasonable.”
The last time the police contract was negotiated, in 2008, an arbitrator was appointed by the province after talks broke down. After a 13-month battle, the arbitrator hashed out a deal that increased salaries by 10 per cent over three years.