New Cornwall police deal ratified; covers staff, officers through 2020

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – Members of the Cornwall Police Association have overwhelming ratified a new agreement with the Cornwall Police Services Board.

The new collective agreement will see pay increases totalling 9.25 per cent over five years (2 per cent in 2016 and 2017, 1.85 per cent in 2018 and 2019 and 1.55 per cent in 2020).

Roughly 80-85 per cent of the 130-some members showed up to vote Thursday and approximately 80 per cent voted in favour of the deal, according to the CPA.

The Cornwall Police Services Board ratified the contract last week.

In addition to the pay increases, there are some “minor” health benefit improvements including psychotherapy care, given the issues with PTSD in first responders.

There’s also rest time, up to eight hours, between court and active duty so, for example, an officer that spends a day in court doesn’t have to immediately start into a night shift.

“That was something that was very important for us that definitely takes its toll on the body when you’re going no rest and you’re operating a motor vehicle and you’re responsible for a firearm that we felt we needed to make sure our guys are rested before they’re going back out again,” CPA President Dave MacLean told Cornwall Newswatch.

For the staff that don’t have retiree benefits, they will be a small spending account of $2,000 a year for five years (to cover ages 65 through 70), to help those employees pay for their own benefit plan or medical requirements after retirement.

“Most of the things we gained were fairly minor in terms of, when you’re talking big issues, there was really nothing that was a major issue. We made a lot of ground in small areas that were just things that were important to our members that we never really focused on in years past,” MacLean said.

The union president said there were a number of factors for negotiating the atypical five year contract. Most union contracts are three year agreements.

“Our chief and deputy chief have contracts that end in 2018 and if we went three years on a contract we’d be right in the middle of that with potentially a new chief and deputy chief,” MacLean said. “When you’re going into bargaining, having that instability or that change in an organization could factor in your bargaining.”

MacLean said the other factors were all levels of government going through an election cycle. “We wanted to push past that and pushing past that it would get us into ’19 and ’20.”

The other issue is Ontario government’s pending review of the Police Services Act.

“We don’t know what they have in store, in terms of changes, so we wanted an opportunity to allow the government to make their change before we go into contract talks again. It allows us a period of settling in and figuring out those changes and adapting to them,” MacLean said.

One of the big concessions the CPA made was the amount of time it will take an officer to move up the pay grid.

New police officers will take six years to reach the top rank of first-class constable – double the time it used to be. Civilians will reach the top of their pay grid in five years instead of four.

“There’s a savings there for the board by increasing those time periods…it helps offset some of the things we’re looking for.”

Both sides will officially sign the contract tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. at city hall.

At the end of 2015, a first-class constable was making $90,475.