Municipalities are responsible for delivering a wide variety of services: policing, firefighting, paramedic, transit, healthcare (homes for the aged), and libraries—in addition to their general municipal services. At the same time, they are under increasing pressure to deliver more with less.
With fiscal responsibility, cost containment and the need for greater efficiencies come a host of other challenges, particularly in heavily unionized environments. Strategic management of these issues and difficulties is critical in ensuring that legal obligations are met, while the interests and relationships at stake are protected.
As an industry leader with over 50 years of experience in the municipal area, our significant client base of over 100 municipalities provides us with a unique vantage point from which to help your organization. We have developed a keen awareness of the dynamics—political, cultural and socio-economic—that affect human resources issues in the public sector, and we are sensitive to the responsibility which comes with public accountability and the significance of public perception of public bodies.
Our clients in this area include large and small municipalities (urban and rural) and police services boards.
We also have strategic business relationships with Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs and we are actively involved with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Ontario Municipal Human Resources Association, amongst other employer associations.
Tailoring our services to reflect the unique environment in which they operate, we advise municipal employers on a full range of labour and employment matters including:
- strategic collective bargaining negotiation including interest arbitration for firefighters, police, EMS and essential service transit
- strike preparation, including illegal strike, labour injunction, picketing and unfair labour practice matters
- administration, interpretation and enforcement of the collective agreement
- contracting-out issues and sale of business applications
- discipline and discharge including off-duty use and misuse of social media
- workplace safety investigations and proceedings including with respect to workplace violence and sexual harassment, and contraventions of the occupational health and safety legislation
- employment and service agreements and minimum standards compliance
- employee absenteeism programs, performance management programs and enforcement of human rights-related policies to increase service levels
- employment-related human right issues including harassment complaints, workplace disability and accommodation issues and AODA compliance
- service-related human rights issues including accessibility, housing and accommodations, application of by-laws and defending allegations of racial profiling by police
- information management, privacy and access to information matters, including employee surveillance issues and responding to freedom of information requests
- pension, benefits and related tax issues including matters of enrolment, termination, retirement, disability and omission periods arising under OMERS, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan requirements and implications, and other retirement- and benefits-related design, administration and governance issues
We also represent our municipal clients in interest and rights arbitration proceedings, wrongful dismissal litigation, pay equity and human rights tribunal hearings, Part V Hearings, Ontario Civilian Police Commission Hearings and labour board proceedings.