WARMINGTON: Vaccine-resistant Toronto cops have arbitration hearing

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For the more than 100 Toronto police vaccine holders, the good news is that their grievance has finally made it to the courtroom.

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The bad news is that hopes for a quick resolution were dashed when the first session ended without a deal on Friday.

“After today’s all-day closed meeting, no final decision has been made,” read a message from the Toronto Police Association Board of Directors to members.

But hearings before arbitrator Jesse Nyman will continue.

“All parties are committed to returning to the table on May 16 and June 17,” the TPA said. “If any developments arise by then, we will share this information with the members.”

This development should be, in my view, a handshake to get these people back to work, as the Ottawa Police have done with their officers. It should be that simple, but nothing ever is with COVID-19 vaccination issues. While most warrants have been lifted, when it comes to first responders, the status is the same.

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While the “current policy remains in place,” Toronto police spokeswoman Connie Osborne said the TPS “continually reviews its requirements to ensure it meets its health and safety goals. safety at work”.

Saying that “arbitration is proceeding as normal”, she said that “the Board and the Service are committed to continuing to engage with the APT on this matter, as we do on all labor relations matters” .

Last November, they suspended 205 members without pay for non-compliance with vaccine status. It always seemed serious when you consider that police officers charged with serious crimes during this period are suspended with pay, but the TPS felt that vaccination was a vital health and safety requirement for first responders. The City of Toronto also took these tough action with the TTC, Toronto Fire Department and Paramedics.

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As the months went by, the numbers went down as perhaps many weren’t able to afford to pay their mortgages.

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“We currently have 103 members, civilian and uniform, on unpaid absence due to non-compliance with the vaccination requirement,” Osborne said.

The APT filed a policy grievance last November.

“The Toronto Police Association has consistently stood up for the cause of all of its members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” TPA President Jon Reid said in a statement. “As we reach the arbitration stage of our policy grievance, we will continue to seek a resolution that is in the best interests of our members and protects longstanding practices and the rights negotiated in our collective agreements. We look forward to working cooperatively with the department and the board throughout this process.

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They certainly have an experienced arbitrator in Nyman, a member of the Ontario Labour-Management Arbitrators’ Association who has adjudicated many cases, including those involving police, first responders, teachers and nurses. He knows they are good people on both sides caught in a difficult situation caused by the pandemic. It just has them on the same page.

The best way to solve this problem is for both parties to come to their own agreement. With the COVID-19 landscape looking different than last year, it makes sense to compromise and get these officers back to work, which could mean the same for transit workers, firefighters and paramedics. Toronto needs everyone on deck and there are solutions that could be found here.

Those without a paycheck were disappointed that it didn’t happen on Friday. But the two sides talk to each other and, with Nyman’s help, will do so again soon.

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