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Toronto police vote for 11 per cent pay hike

Toronto Police officers direct traffic after a power outage in Yorkville. The city's budget chief eviscerated Toronto?s approach to hiring off-duty police for special events and construction zones on Tuesday, calling the $29-million Toronto spends on the such assignments ?out of hand?

Darren Calabrese/darren calabrese The Globe and Mail

Toronto police have resoundingly endorsed a new contract that boosts their paycheques in excess of 11 per cent over the next four years.

Mike McCormack, head of the union representing city police, said support for the contract registered in the "high 90s."

The deal will go to the Police Services Board June 9 for final approval. If it is approved, it will go into effect immediately, retroactive to Jan 1, 2011.

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"I think that everybody in my membership saw it as a very fair contract that met the needs of the membership and reflected the reality of the economic times," said Mr. McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association.

The deal offers city police wage hikes of 3.2 per cent this year, 3 per cent in the two subsequent years, and 2 per cent in 2014.

Those numbers are higher than wage hikes offered many other public service sectors, but lag the 14-per-cent wage increase the province granted OPP officers over the same period.

The city was told it would be on the hook to match the OPP raise if negotiations with city police had gone to arbitration.

"I'm totally handcuffed on the police," said Toronto budget committee chair Mike Del Grande.

Negotiations between the union and the police board began in January. The two sides immediately struck a more civil tone than they did in 2008, when nine months of acrimonious bargaining eventually ended in arbitration.

"This contract was negotiated in good faith on both sides," said police board chair Alok Mukherjee. "It's a reasonable settlement."

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The wage increases will place a further squeeze on a city budget already showing a $774-million shortfall. Police funding draws nearly $1-billion - or 10.4 per cent - from the city's $9.4-billion budget, an expense second only to the TTC.

Mr. Mukherjee said the board did wrangle a few concessions from the union, including guarantees that the cost of police in Toronto "doesn't grow more than it has to."

"We gave something and we got something," he said, but would not reveal any details.

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About the Author
National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

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