« Arbitrators should in any event « point » to external wage parity, as this would stifle free collective bargaining and would never allow for local economic concerns, regardless of the seriousness of the regulation or the influence on wage agreements. Why would [firefighters] ever accept something less than external wage parity, when arbitration would inevitably lead to the imposition of pay parity with other fire groups in the province? Ignoring or minimizing the impact of local economic conditions on police salaries penalizes two groups: small municipalities and metropolitan police officers. The City of Medical Hat wants to be a big employer. We want to set a good example for the private sector, but the choice is not between a private company (looking for profits) and a union – it is the taxpayer and the police. It is in the public interest for both of them to have fair business. And the cost of local living needs to be more taken into account in each subdivision. It is always better for the city and the police union to get an agreement without an arbitrator, but it is helpful to understand how arbitration works to better educate the public, what kinds of balances and trade-offs are to be expected. Finally, a binding conciliation is the hammer that hangs over any collective bargaining. But if police work was the responsibility of such specialized labour laws and the former arbitrators and judges had not left for so long to stress the need to take into account local economic conditions on police salaries. That is why I imagine that the work of the police is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, where we should again see wage parity mitigated by local economic conditions. Police officers in large cities are disadvantaged when they are paid in small towns in the same way as police officers, but they face a dramatic increase in the cost of living. Bruce J.A.
found that arbitrators who simply use external wage parity to resolve wage disputes distort the collective bargaining process. Wage parity is a formal term for similarity in wages. In other words, the arbitrator cannot simply say medicine to the police should pay X, because the Toronto police paid X. Another reason why local economic conditions are not reflected in police salaries is the distinction between the lack of willingness to pay a commune and the insolvency of a commune. That is an important distinction. A city has much more power than a union since the city council controls the budget. However, we cannot simply use the budget to justify why we can no longer pay. This principle is articulated in another arbitration, Hamilton Police Services Board and the Hamilton Police Association 2002. Arbitrator Kenneth Swan wrote that a city council cannot simply control arbitration through a budget procedure.
Our budget is a factor, but it does not exceed all other considerations about what a fair wage is. In other words, the city council cannot just say, « We cannot afford to pay them. » It should be noted that the police are designated as an essential service. This weakens a union by removing its most powerful bargaining instrument – its ability to strike. So we have to be particularly careful with our relationship.