Update – February 18, 2020

Feb 18, 2020

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING UPDATE FROM THE CHAIR OF THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING SUB-COMMITTEE

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the chair of the City’s Collective Bargaining sub-committee, released the following update today:

The City of Toronto has always strived to treat its employees fairly and respectfully. Taken within that context, at present, City of Toronto employees enjoy some of the best benefits within the public sector, in fact as part of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, the City was graded with an A in the category of Health & Family Friendly Benefits.

We are working hard at the bargaining table to find ways to make sure that we can continue to provide our employees with excellent benefits which include medical and dental coverage, generous sick leave coverage and paid paramedical benefits like chiropractor, massage therapy and physiotherapy etc. – all in addition to a great pension plan. While at the same time demonstrating the same fairness and respect for the citizens of Toronto who finance our public expenditures.

Here’s what is important.  The City’s Auditor General and our benefits managers have thoughtfully identified problem areas in our benefits programs from both a future cost and accountability perspective.

Those problem areas include issues about the appropriate access to orthotics and orthopedic shoes for dependents under 18 years of age, Erectile Dysfunction drugs and the utilization of sick days for less than ½ day.

Orthotics and Orthopedic Shoes for dependents under 18 years of age – an issue of excessive use was identified by the Auditor General in her report dated March 20, 2017.  The Auditor General reported: “Dependents aged 18 or younger have unlimited coverage for orthotic and orthopedic shoes under the City’s benefit plans. In 2015, the costs for orthotic and orthopedic shoe claims from 1,547 dependents 18 or younger amounted to $1.3 million, averaging $840 per claimant. Specific instances noted include. Example: 41 dependents aged 18 or younger claimed between six and ten pairs of orthotics in a year; each received between $3,000 and $5,000 of benefit reimbursement in one year.

  • Our proposal provides that for dependents under 18 years of age Orthotics and Orthopedic Shoes are capped at 2 pairs per year.

Erectile Dysfunction Drugs – an issue of excessive use that was identified by the Auditor General in her report dated October 24, 2016.  The Auditor General reported: “In 2015 the City paid approximately $1.9 million for reimbursement of erectile dysfunction drugs. The benefits cost for this type of drug increased 18 per cent from 2013 to 2015”.

  • Our proposal, which is in line with the AG’s report, would simply require that there would be a very reasonable cap on utilization and that the use of these drugs has been pre-approved based upon supporting medical necessity.

Sick Less than ½ day – Currently, employees are able to take up to a half day off work without any deduction from their sick bank. Since 2016, this number has risen significantly. This leaves a significant amount of sick time unaccounted for.

Less than ½ day sick occurrences:

L416# of OccurrencesCompared to 2016
20163199 
2018442738%
2019 full year446239%

L79# of OccurrencesCompared to 2016
20166892 
2018794115%
2019 Full Year811718%

  • Our proposal means hours of absence due to illness will be deducted from the employee’s sick bank.

We have gone to the table and have said to our union partners that we want to find a way to work together to fix these problems so that we can continue to maintain an excellent set of benefits.  

While we appreciate that not all of our ideas have been well received – they are an invitation to work with us to find a way to resolve some important problems.  

We are confident that our union partners will see their way clear to working with us to find a solution to these problems.