It should be noted that the police are designated as an essential service. This weakens a union by removing its most powerful bargaining instrument – its ability to strike. So we have to be particularly careful with our relationship. Another reason why local economic conditions are not reflected in police salaries is the distinction between the lack of willingness to pay a commune and the insolvency of a commune. That is an important distinction. A city has much more power than a union since the city council controls the budget. However, we cannot simply use the budget to justify why we can no longer pay. This principle is articulated in another arbitration, Hamilton Police Services Board and the Hamilton Police Association 2002. Arbitrator Kenneth Swan wrote that a city council cannot simply control arbitration through a budget procedure. Our budget is a factor, but it does not exceed all other considerations about what a fair wage is. In other words, the city council cannot just say, „We cannot afford to pay them.“ Police officers in large cities are disadvantaged when they are paid in small towns in the same way as police officers, but they face a dramatic increase in the cost of living.
Referee Stan Lanyon works by motivating all arguments. He agreed with the union that Delta`s collective agreement was not a good comparator, as economic conditions and working conditions vary widely in Vancouver. But he disagreed with Calgary and Edmonton. In Lanyon`s 2014 and 2016 decision, he wrote that wages in Alberta were „too rich“ for Vancouver and were not fair comparators because of Alberta`s unique provincial economy (at least at that time). From 2001 to 2015, wages in Alberta increased by 17.6% more than those in British Columbia. But if police work was the responsibility of such specialized labour laws and the former arbitrators and judges had not left for so long to stress the need to take into account local economic conditions on police salaries. That is why I imagine that the work of the police is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, where we should again see wage parity mitigated by local economic conditions. Bruce J.A. found that arbitrators who simply use external wage parity to resolve wage disputes distort the collective bargaining process. Wage parity is a formal term for similarity in wages.
In other words, the arbitrator cannot simply say medicine to the police should pay X, because the Toronto police paid X. The arbitrator will try to counter a fair and reasonable agreement. The definition of what is „fair and reasonable“ begins with the consideration of other collective agreements in the same sector and geography to be used as comparators.