Ontario's labour minister is out of touch with municipal leaders if he does not support the Progressive Conservatives' latest arbitration reform bill, says Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve ClarkThe Tory MPP, who was touring Ontario Friday in support of the private member's bill put forward by PC House Leader Jim Wilson, said he was disappointed by a statement on the issue Thursday by Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi.We're getting wide support from known Liberals, said Clark, the Tories' municipal affairs critic. Perhaps the minister hasn't reviewed Mr. Wilson's bill.Naqvi's office on Friday issued a follow-up statement from the minister, in which he said he is taking a serious look at the Tory bill, which comes up for a vote next Thursday.Wilson introduced his private member's bill, dubbed the Public Sector Capacity to Pay Act or Bill 44, last Thursday. The proposed legislation is a revamp of another bill the Simcoe-Grey MPP introduced last year that died on the order paper. *It aims to rein in provincial interest arbitration awards for public sector workers, in particular emergency services.Municipalities have long complained those awards do not take into account local taxpayers' ability to pay.On Thursday, as Clark and Wilson met in Prescott with Eastern Ontario municipal leaders, Naqvi issued a statement criticizing the Tories for voting against arbitration reform measures in last year's budget.Clark, who was with Wilson in Kitchener-Waterloo yesterday, said Naqvi's response seemed to ignore the fact known Liberals at the municipal level support Wilson's bill.The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) has praised Wilson for consulting with the organization in drafting the bill.I think that we've shown that we can reach out to municipalities and construct a bill that they need passed, said Clark.We even changed the name of the bill because AMO wanted it called 'Capacity to Pay.'Clark and Wilson noted municipal leaders feared the bill's previous name, the Ability to Pay Act, gave arbitrators an out by suggesting municipalities could raise taxes to cover their settlements.Later Friday, Naqvi issued another statement by email concerning Wilson's bill.Im taking a serious look at this bill, but Im not going to pre-judge the outcome of the vote next Thursday, said the minister.We want to build an arbitration system that is fair for workers, fair for municipalities and fair for taxpayers."
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