Thursday, July 13, 2023
Late last week, an arbitrator awarded in favour of five OPS employee unions, led by AMAPCEO, in a dispute over the Ontario government’s refusal to recognize the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) in 2022. This was an incredibly important decision, both for its defense of members’ collective agreements and for honouring the truth and reconciliation process.
“This is yet another instance of the government’s ongoing disregard for the collective bargaining process. The contract language in our respective contracts was clear from the onset. Moreover, their refusal to commemorate the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation demonstrates a glaring lack of respect for the truth and reconciliation process,” said President Dave Bulmer.
In addition to being one of the 94 calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation offers everyone in Canada an essential opportunity to learn about and reflect on the history and ongoing legacy of colonialism, as well as to commit themselves to taking concrete steps toward equity and healing. It is integral that OPS employees, like the rest of the country, have this day to focus on education and action.
Read the unions' joint statement below:
Toronto, July 13, 2023 --- A coalition of five bargaining agents representing members in the Ontario Public Service (OPS) won its dispute of the Ontario government’s refusal to recognize the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) in 2022.
The arbitrator found in favour of the bargaining agents—ALOC (Association of Law Officers of the Crown), AMAPCEO (Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario), OCAA (Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association), OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union), and PEGO (Professional Engineers of the Government of Ontario)—ruling that the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a “holiday” according to the provisions established in each of the bargaining agents’ respective collective agreements, and that it should have been granted as a paid holiday in 2022.
When the OPS Employer decided not to recognize the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2022 as it had in 2021, the bargaining agents first submitted a joint letter to the Secretary of Cabinet, and then filed a formal policy dispute with the OPS Employer.
The bargaining agents argued that their collective agreements entitled their respective members to statutory holidays and any other special holidays proclaimed by the Governor General or Lieutenant Governor.
Ultimately, the arbitrator found that the bargaining agents’ interpretation of the collective agreement was in keeping with the “plain and ordinary meaning” of the provision.
Barring a legal challenge (a request for a judicial review) by the OPS Employer, this finding will come into effect September 30, 2023, and become an annual paid holiday for OPS employees represented by the five bargaining agents. The arbitrator also directed the parties to negotiate a remedy for the ‘lost day’ in 2022.
The coalition of bargaining agents is pleased with the success of their joint fight to defend members’ collective agreements and to honour the truth and reconciliation process. The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation offers a moment to reflect on the history and legacy of residential schools and colonial violence in Canada and to honour the lives lost. It is integral to preserve this day for reflection and education on the ongoing work of truth and reconciliation, in which all Canadians must take part.