LockTalk #23: Arbitration Award Explained

LockTalk #23: Arbitration Award Explained

The LockTalk image. Corrections Division
The LockTalk image. Corrections Division

On December 4th, 2023, the Corrections Arbitration Award was released. LockTalk #22 can be reviewed through this link to access the award, the Union briefs, and the Employer briefs.

The Correctional Bargaining Team encourages all members to review the proposals put forward by the bargaining team, and the employer’s views of its employees.

The Correctional Bargaining Team is in the process of scheduling meetings with the Employer to discuss implementation. Additional information will be disseminated once plans for implementation are finalized.

Below is a summary and explanation of the award. The arbitration award notes that any union or employer proposal not directly dealt with in this award is deemed dismissed.


The term of the Collective Agreement is from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2024.

Wages (All Classifications Except Nurses)

The arbitrator awarded the following general wage increases:

  • January 1, 2022 – 3.0%
  • January 1, 2023 – 3.5%
  • January 1, 2024 – 3.0%
  • These will be applied retroactively to all hours paid.

Special Adjustments

The arbitrator awarded a special adjustment to the following classifications: Correctional Officers, Youth Workers, Probation Officers/Probation and Parole Officers:

  • January 1, 2022 – 1.0%

Correctional Supervisor Wage Grid

The arbitrator eliminated the first three steps of the Correctional Supervisor wage grid effective January 1, 2024.


The arbitrator awarded the following general wage increases and new grid for the Nurse 2, General classification:

  • January 1, 2022 – 3.0%
  • January 1, 2023 – 0.875%
  • April 1, 2023 – New Grid applied*:
    • Start – $37.93
    • Step 1 – $38.88
    • Step 2 – $39.86
    • Step 3 – $41.65
    • Step 4 – $43.52
    • Step 5 – $45.70
    • Step 6 – $47.98
    • Step 7 – $50.38
    • Step 8 – $54.37
    • January 1, 2024 – 3.0%

*No nurse will see a reduction in wages as a result of the new grid.

The arbitrator remitted a pay grid application for the Nurse 1, Nurse 3, and Mental Health Nurse classifications to the parties and remains seized of any disputes. The next step is to negotiate the implementation with the Employer. Should there not be agreement, the Bargaining Team will return to Arbitrator Kaplan for a decision.

Registered Practical Nurses

The arbitrator awarded the following for the Registered Practical Nurse classifications:

  • January 1, 2022 – 3.0%
  • January 1, 2023 – 3.5%
  • January 1, 2024 – $2.00 increase to all steps prior to 3.0% general wage increase.

Arbitrator Kaplan remains seized of any disputes on this issue.

Nurse Practitioners

The arbitrator remitted compensation for Nurse Practitioners back to the parties following the implementation of the ONA-Participating Hospital Grid. There is no central wage grid for Nurse Practitioners in the ONA-Participating Hospital collective agreement, and the parties will be meeting to discuss implementation.

Arbitrator Kaplan remains seized of any disputes on this issue.

Experience Credit for Nurses – LOU

The arbitrator awarded the Union’s proposal for a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on Experience Credit for Nurses. This LOU will allow for nurses to be compensated commensurate with their level of experience, as occurs in the Participating Hospitals. This LOU also includes a one-time opportunity for current nurses to be credited for any experience not captured at their time of hire. Current employees have 180 days to make their claim. The process for requesting this one-time adjustment needs to be agreed-upon with the Employer. Details on how to request this adjustment will be provided when available.

Although retroactivity is limited to December 4, 2023, the date of the arbitration award, this corrects a longstanding problem within nursing classifications. The Correctional Bargaining Team recommends nurses who anticipate making this request begin gathering supporting documentation.


The arbitrator awarded the Employer’s benefit proposal with some amendments based on detailed submissions from the Correctional Bargaining Team. Here is a breakdown of the changes:

Improvements to psychological benefits

  •  Effective January 1, 2024, increase of the annual maximum from $1400 to $2500 for all employees.
  • Effective January 1, 2024, increase of the annual maximum from $1400 to $1750 for dependents.
  • Effective January 1, 2024, elimination of the ½ hour cap for all employees and dependents. This had been previously awarded for Correctional Officers and Youth Workers. This means that all employees and dependents have 100% coverage up to the annual maximum.
  • Effective January 1, 2024, addition of coverage for registered Psychotherapists.

Improvements to paramedical services

  • Effective January 1, 2024, increase of the session cap from $25 to $35 per session for Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, and Massage. There is no change to the annual maximum of $1200.

Improvement to vision coverage

  • Effective January 1, 2024, increase of the maximum amount for vision coverage from $340 to $400 in a 24-month period.

New Health Care Spending Account

  • Creation of a new Health Care Spending Account of $300 for all regular and seasonal members enrolled in the Health and Dental plans. This account does not apply to fixed-term employees who have opted-into the benefits plan. This account is effective 90-days after the date of the award.
  • Any eligible expense can be claimed as defined in the Income Tax Act. Examples of eligible expenses include anything already covered in our health and dental plan.
  • The $300 account covers members and their eligible dependants and can be carried over for one (1) calendar year.

Administrative Changes to the Health Care Plan

The Employer’s proposal included a number of administrative changes to the Health Care Plan. Despite the Correctional Bargaining Team’s opposition, these changes were awarded by the arbitrator. These changes include:

  • Implementation of a prior authorization program – certain more expensive drugs will now require prior authorization from Manulife. A physician will need to submit the request to Manulife prior to the prescription being authorized and filled. The list of these drugs is maintained by Manulife. Any current prescriptions are grand parented into the program so members will not have to obtain authorization to continue their current prescriptions.
  • Enhanced mandatory generic substitution – reimbursement of drugs will be based on the lowest cost eligible generic drug price. If the patient cannot tolerate the generic, a physician can submit information to Manulife to support why the brand-drug is being prescribed.
  • Establishment of a Dispensing Fee Cap for prescription drugs of $11.99 per prescription.
  • Implementation of annual dispensing fee cap to 5 times per calendar year for maintenance drugs. The list of these drugs is maintained by Manulife. Examples of maintenance drugs are for blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol. Any changes to dosage restart the dispensing fee cap count.
  • Implementation of Manulife Drug Watch Program – This program is a Manulife program that analyzes new drugs before they are approved for coverage. The review process compares the new drug to similar drugs on the market.
  • Specialty Drug Care Program – this is a mandatory program that provides a nurse case manager for individuals taking medications to treat complex, chronic, or life-threatening conditions. It also provides for preferred pricing for specialty drugs.
  • Injectable Vitamin B6/B12 Coverage – application of reasonable and customary practices for the reimbursement of Vitamin B6/B12 injections.

An updated benefits booklet explaining all these changes will be provided by the Employer within 180 days.

FXT Benefits

The arbitrator awarded a one-time opportunity for all current fixed-term employees to opt into the benefits plan within 60-days of the award. Fixed-term employees remain responsible for 100% of the premiums.

Military Service Leave

The arbitrator awarded enhancements to the current Military Service Leave language. These improvements provide for additional discretionary unpaid leave for the purpose of Canadian Forces Reserve training and/or any obligations pertaining to the Canadian Forces Reserve. Any leave granted provides for the accrual of service and seniority while on the leave. The arbitrator remitted this issue to the parties to determine the appropriate language for the Collective Agreement.

Pregnancy Parental Leave

The arbitrator awarded a number of the Employer’s proposals regarding Pregnancy Parental Leave:

  • The Employment Insurance Act was changed reducing the waiting period from 2 weeks to 1 week. For Regular and Regular Part-Time employees this created a situation where employees were being overpaid EI in the second week. The current award moves the second week to the end of the Pregnancy/Parental Leave to avoid an overpayment situation for employees.
  • For Regular and Regular Part-Time employees, new Pregnancy/Parental Leaves starting 90-days after the arbitration award, top-up on an extended leave (61 weeks) is limited to the amount that would be provided under the standard leave (35 weeks). There are no changes to the top-up for those opting to take the standard leave.
  • Fixed-term employees can opt for the extended leave under EI, however top-up is not applicable.
  • There are no changes to the top-up for those currently on Pregnancy/Parental Leaves – either standard or extended.
  • Explanatory notes will be forthcoming.

The arbitrator did not award the Employer’s proposal for any future changes to Employment Insurance Act and/or the Employment Standards Act to require cost neutral changes to the Collective Agreement.

Employee Portfolio

The arbitrator awarded the Employer’s proposal to allow for the employee portfolio described in Article 20.1.4 to be stored on an electronic system. This means that employees are able to use FORTE to update and maintain their employee portfolio.

Employee Transition and Reskilling – New Memorandum of Agreement

The arbitrator awarded the Employer’s proposal to embed the Employee Transition and Reskilling MOA into the Collective Agreement. This process does not replace any rights and entitlements under Article 20 (Employment Stability).

Recruitment and Staffing, Article 6, 56, New Appendix on Reach-back and Appendix 39

The arbitrator awarded the following Employer proposals regarding recruitment and staffing:

  • Article, Article 56.1.2, and Appendix 39 have been amended to allow for reach-backs for fourteen (14) months following the conclusion of the competition. This was changed from closing date of the competition. Language around the Union being able to track for compliance has been remitted to the parties.
  • New Appendix on Reachback Classification Series – this new appendix permits the Employer to reach back to fill vacancies in the same classification series within a range of two (2) classifications below the original posting for Office Administration classified positions. For example, the Employer may now choose to fill a Finance Clerk (OAD 08) position using the results of a competition for a Senior Records Clerk (OAD 10) position.
  • In Appendix 39 (Mass Centralized Recruitment Process) the requirement to provide the individual rank order to candidates has been deleted. The arbitrator deleted the requirement for a surplus clearance number to be obtained prior to filling positions under this process.


The arbitrator awarded the Employer’s proposal to change 10 calendar days to 10 working days in Article 56.1.1 for the posting and filling of Regular-Part-Time positions.

Agreed To Items

The full list of agreed-to items can be reviewed in this document. A number of housekeeping and language updates were agreed-to by the parties, along with the following changes:

  • The parties agreed that they will endeavour to make the Collective Agreement accessible during the editing process in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
  • Gender identity and gender expression added to Article 3.1 (No Discrimination/Employment Equity).
  • Student wage rates updated to reflect the current minimum wage.
  • Clarifying language added to the Compressed Work Week Agreement template in Article 10 that the number of employees covered by the agreement needs to be included.
  • Article 6 and 56 amended to include language that if an employee is unable to attend a job interview due to operating requirements, the Employer may explore reasonable efforts to hold the interview virtually or reschedule the interview.
  • Sunset clause on Letters of Counsel reduced from 3 years to 2 years with an acknowledgement that they are not grievable.
  • Discriminatory language regarding LTIP in Article 42 and Article 70 has been deleted.
  • Establishment of a Joint Diversity and Inclusion Collective Agreement Review Committee. This joint committee will review the collective agreement from a diversity lens, with an aim to identify systemic barriers that may exist and are unduly impacting employees, including employees who are Indigenous, Black, other racialized, LGBTQ+ and persons with disabilities. The committee will submit a report to the Bi-Ministry Employee Relations Committee.

All other articles and appendices not spoken to directly in the award or in the agreed-to items document above are renewed in the Collective Agreement as is. The Letter of Understanding outside of the Collective Agreement that provided the additional 40 hours of Compensating Time Off (CTO) expired at the end of the collective agreement term, and the Employer was not willing to renew the letter.

In solidarity,

Janet Laverty, Bargaining Team Chair
Adam Cygler, Bargaining Team Vice-Chair