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New Legislation Prohibits Strikes on the Toronto Transit System

Archived Backgrounder

New Legislation Prohibits Strikes on the Toronto Transit System

Ministry of Labour

Who is Affected by the New Act?

The Toronto Transit Commission Dispute Resolution Act, 2011 applies to the TTC, bargaining agents who represent TTC employees under the Labour Relations Act, 1995, and TTC employees represented by those bargaining agents.

What is the position of the City of Toronto?

On December 16, 2010, the Toronto City Council voted in favour of a motion asking the province to designate the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) an essential service.

Are TTC Strikes and Lockouts Banned?

Under the new act strikes and lock-outs at the TTC would be prohibited. If the TTC and the bargaining agents who represent TTC employees were unable to agree on the terms of a collective agreement the matter would be referred to binding arbitration.

What is Binding Arbitration?

Binding arbitration is a fair and neutral method of settling the terms of a collective agreement when the parties can't reach a settlement on their own.

In collective bargaining the parties would follow the process established under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995 (including notice to bargain and conciliation).

If the TTC and one of its bargaining agents were unable to settle a contract in bargaining, a conciliation officer from the Ministry of Labour would be appointed.  The conciliation officer works with both parties to assist in resolving disputes and reaching an agreement.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement during the conciliation stage, the conciliation officer will inform the Minister of Labour and the dispute would be referred to arbitration. The parties would be able to agree on the appointment of an arbitrator. If they were unable to agree, the Minister of Labour could appoint one.

The parties would not be prohibited from continuing to bargain for a new collective agreement during the arbitration process, and would be encouraged to do so. If they were to settle any matters between themselves and were to notify the arbitrator, the arbitrator's decision would be limited to outstanding matters necessary to conclude a collective agreement.

Review of the Legislation to Take Place After Five Years

Under the new act, the Minister will initiate a review of the act within one year following the fifth anniversary of its coming into force.  A report on the results of this review will be provided to the Minister of Labour.

Binding Arbitration in the Broader Public Sector

  • Binding arbitration already exists within the police, fire, and hospital sectors in Ontario.
  • From January 2000 to January 2011, there were more than 6,000 settlements involving parties who are subject to binding arbitration. Almost 80 per cent of them were settled without going to arbitration.
  • Ministry of Labour conciliation officers and mediators are available to assist parties in reaching collective agreements.
  • There are approximately 260,000 Ontario employees who are covered by binding arbitration collective agreements. That represents almost 31 per cent of Broader Public Sector employees in the province.

Toronto' Unique Transit Needs

  • The TTC is Canada's largest public transit system with a ridership of approximately 1.5 million every business day. It is the third largest transit system in North America.
  • The Greater Toronto Area has the highest concentration of health care facilities in Canada with 40 hospitals, 84 long-term care homes, and 21 community care centres. This includes hospitals with trauma centres such as Sunnybrook Health Sciences and specialized hospitals such as Princess Margaret Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children.
  • The TTC estimates that a subway train replaces over 900 cars at peak times.
  • It is also estimated that without the TTC there would be 350,000 additional car trips in Toronto on any business day.

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