Wage freeze for unionized workers could save millions
Ottawa's mayor and several city councillors are urging the provincial government to legislate a wage freeze for unionized city workers, including police, firefighters and paramedics.
Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien says the move would save the city an estimated $30- to $40 million.
The city is also considering a wage freeze for all non-unionized employees, which would save taxpayers $1.2 million.
Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, who is also chair of the police services board, says if wages for non-unionized and unionized workers aren't frozen, layoffs will follow.
Ottawa police will enter contract negotiations later this year. Firefighters are slated to enter negotiations next year. Union heads say they're prepared to fight back against any wage freeze.
The proposal comes after the Ontario government moved to freeze salaries for more than one million public sector workers last week.
The province is immediately freezing the wages of about 350,000 non-unionized public sector employees. Another 710,000 unionized workers will get their salaries capped for two years once their existing contracts expire.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has already urged municipalities to follow his lead. He says everyone must do their part to help governments gain control of massive deficits, including first responders.
Coun. Rick Chiarelli announced Friday he planned to introduce a motion to freeze wages for all non-unionized city employees at the next council meeting.
The motion, which will be introduced in about two weeks, would affect the mayor, city council, senior managers and all non-unionized city staff.
First responders account for two-thirds of city employees who earned more than $100,000 in 2009. The city is required by law to disclose salaries and taxable benefits of any employee who is paid more than $100,000 in a single year.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and files from The Canadian Press