January 18, 2018.
The February 8th transition date to the OPP is but weeks away and the Midland Police Service has scheduled its “Farewell Party” for February 3. There is just one significant item remaining to complete before the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) will issue its final approval for the transition. That item is agreement with the union and non-union employees to the terms of the transition. Once those issues are either agreed or sent to arbitration, OCPC will allow the OPP transition to take place.
For background, you may recall the OCPC stated in a letter dated December 29/2017 that “it needs confirmation that both the Board and its employees have entered into final agreements or have agreed to submit any disagreements to arbitration”. At that time, the Midland Police Services Board (PSB) reaffirmed its willingness to have any outstanding differences resolved through arbitration, effectively removing the final hurdle to an OPP transition.
It will be truly unfortunate if these proceedings are delayed by any other parties to the negotiation, thereby delaying benefits to the people of Midland and leaving members of the Midland Police Service unsettled about their future employment. The fact is, the OPP will NOT be in a position to provide job offers to our valued MPS employees until OCPC gives unconditional approval to proceed with the transition. The OPP made that very clear during the bidding process.
Rumours and innuendo are being circulated that members of the PSB are delaying these negotiations and holding up job offers; however, as stated above, the PSB has agreed that it will not stand in the way of an agreement, and will even expedite it by allowing an independent arbitrator to make the final determination in a fair and equitable way for all.
We have to ask ourselves the even bigger question – is Midland receiving ‘Adequate and Effective Policing’ during this process? Midlandcommunity.ca, the Midland Police Association, and even the OPP have all observed that MPS is understaffed and therefore the people of Midland are being underserved. OPP has committed to an immediate increase in the number of officers on duty, so the earlier we transition, the sooner we will have adequate staff levels in place.
In summary, given the assurance that all negotiations can proceed to arbitration, we urge the OCPC to grant immediate unconditional approval, and for the OPP to move swiftly with the transition. Midland Town Council has spoken on behalf of its residents and businesses and clearly we deserve better. The people of Midland expect this transition to happen on February 08/2018, which will begin a new day with new opportunities.
January 18, 2018.