Archive for the ‘Emergency Services’ Category

Booze Battle On Horizon

- May 18th, 2012

That community and protective services committee meeting yesterday was a bit of an eye-opener for me, not knowing how bad things are in Sandy Hill with students’ rowdy behaviour.

Urinating off homes, smashing beer bottles, verbal assaults. Just a regular night in that community, apparently.

One thing that struck me was there were no delegations from the other post-secondary school neighbourhoods in the city, like the ones around Carleton University or Algonquin College. It’s likely the residents in Sandy Hill mobilized efforts to make presentations to the committee, but I expected there would be more representation from those other areas.

I also heard a lot about St. Patrick’s Day in Sandy Hill being a big headache for residents. The EMC covered the story, so did CTV Ottawa.

Looks like one street was virtually shut right down from the partying.

You’ll want to watch closely how the city deals with issues involving alcohol over the next little while. There was a sense of frustration around the committee table about bars over-serving and the need for the province to send more liquor inspectors to Ottawa. Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, the police services board chairman, had already raised red flags.

Then there’s the public health component. Dr. Isra Levy, the city’s medical officer of health, has talked about alcohol use being an area he would like to tackle as a municipal health agency.

On that note, have a safe long weekend and if you’re partying in Sandy Hill, try to use the toilet instead of someone’s rooftop.

City Union Defends “Unsung” Work Of Paramedics

- March 19th, 2012

Ottawa’s Unsung Heroes is a “briefing paper” put out by CUPE Local 503 recently on the work of Ottawa paramedics.

It suggests paramedics get no respect compared to other lifesavers, like police, firefighters and medical staff at hospitals. The paper spends time comparing paramedic calls for service with firefighters, so you know where this is going.

The Sun’s Doug Hempstead last fall wrote about the feud between paramedics and firefighters as municipalities find ways to merge some of the services the departments provide. At stake are jobs, but there is a good amount of chest thumping going on, too.

(By the way, paramedics, firefighters and police are represented by separate unions)

This notion that paramedics (as the paper suggests) “never seem to get the respect and honour” that firefighters, cops and hospital staff receive is very real in that profession. It’s something that always perplexed me when I covered police, firefighters and paramedics on the crime beat. All three, in my mind, deserve equal praise and, in my experience, are regarded highly by the public. In fact, paramedics have done a good job locally of promoting their work. It wasn’t long ago the fire department didn’t really have a point contact for the media, now it’s one of the more effective city departments using social media.

Merging fire and paramedic services hasn’t come up formally at Ottawa City Hall. It seems like a messy debate and I can’t imagine this council would be interested in that kind of controversy.

Windsor Police Salary Arbitration

- January 5th, 2012

Here’s more evidence of which way arbitrators are leaning when it comes to police salary increases.

Last month an arbitrator awarded Windsor police officers a 3.05% increase.

I’m sure this is making the blood boil of some City of Ottawa politicians, particularly those who sit on the police board. Recall, the board and the Ottawa Police Association are asking an arbitrator to decide on salary, with the union asking for 3%. Of course, the city is trying to keep cost increases below 2.5%.

The Windsor arbitration has raised eyebrows in Ottawa, much like the Gananoque decision did in November.

Since arbitrators faced with salary decisions often look to other collective agreements in the province for comparison, a 3% pay hike wouldn’t be surprising for Ottawa police.

That, likely, would set off politicians about the city’s fiscal situation and ability to pay.

Former police union boss Chalres Momy wrote to me last month with the other side of the story.

Former Union Head Defends Police Arbitration

- December 16th, 2011

Sgt. Charles Momy wrote me this week after reading comments by Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Eli El-Chantiry during a news conference with local Tory MPPs.

During the news conference, I asked the politicians what they think of the current arbitration system in the province, seeing that the police services board is going to arbitration with the police union. Here are their responses.

Momy, a former president of both the Ottawa Police Association and Canadian Police Association, defends officers and their request for wage parity. Here’s what he says:

I just had to respond to your article because it seems there is quite of bit of confusion in Mayor Watson’s mind as well as that of Councillor Eli El-Chantiry who by the way is also Chair of the Police Services Board.

Both are very experienced politicians and should know better than to make remarks which they know are innacurate.

Again today i see Mr. Eli El-Chantiry being quoted as saying ” The arbitration has to take into consideration the economic reality we live in”. I have heard both the Mayor and Mr. El-Chantiry make these comments repeatedly and i felt this time your readers needed to be given the facts.

Under section 122 (5) of the Police Services Act of Ontario an arbitrator must take several factors into consideration when rendering a decision. In fact, a few of those sections ( 1. and 3.) clearly identify that the economic situation by a municipality must be taken into account.

I inserted those sections for you.

Criteria
(5) In making a decision or award, the arbitration board shall take into consideration all factors it considers relevant, including the following criteria:
1. The employer’s ability to pay in light of its fiscal situation.
2. The extent to which services may have to be reduced, in light of the decision or award, if current funding and taxation levels are not increased.
3. The economic situation in Ontario and in the municipality.
4. A comparison, as between the employees and other comparable employees in the public and private sectors, of the terms and conditions of employment and the nature of the work performed.
5. The employer’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees.
6. The interest and welfare of the community served by the police force.
7. Any local factors affecting that community.

Now, the real problem in this situation just like what happened in 2004 when I was President is this.

This city PSB has always had a difficulty providing our members what every other police association has already freely negotiated with their PSB’s. In this case I believe the Ottawa Police Association is asking for no more than their Ontario comparators which is also identified in #4.

Case in point. In 2004 when almost every other police association freely negotiated the 3,6,9 responsibility pay, the Mayor of the day refused to provide it to us even though the conciliator had made it clear that we would get it.

In the end its about fairness. Let’s imagine for a second if we would have accepted over the last few years what the PSB would have wanted us to accept. Our pay and benefits would be in the 10-15% range lower than our comparators. Do people honestly believe that they would retain qualified and competent employees. I would think not. Oh they would be able to hire people no doubt but let’s be honest what kind of calibre of police members would you have??

I hope this clarifies things for the Mayor and Councillor El-Chantiry.

Charles Momy
Past President Ottawa Police Association
Past President Candadian Police Association

City’s Occupy Ottawa Bill: $39K

- December 7th, 2011

Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess recently asked city management how much it cost city taxpayers for Occupy Ottawa. A response was sent to councillors today from deputy city manager Steve Kanellakos:

The total incremental cost to the City’s Emergency and Protective Services Department related to the Occupy Ottawa demonstration at Confederation Park was approximately $15,000. This amount includes supplemental and overtime services provided by City Paramedics, Firefighters and Corporate Security and Emergency Management personnel who were involved with this event, including site visits during the protest as well as support during the eviction on November 23, 2011.

Ottawa Public Health noted that costs associated with OPH’s work on site were considered part of regular duties with no extra costs attributed to the demonstration.

The Ottawa Police Service has separately reported that its costs related to the Occupy Ottawa event were $24,000.