Synopsis By: Lurie - Proceeding Author: Felicity A. Briggs

The report of an industrial inquiry commission of the compensation of hospital employees in Ontario (the “Johnson Commission”) concluded that neither government guidelines nor ability-to-pay should be used by arbitrators in settling public hospital employee disputes. Since that report, arbitrators have placed little weight on the employer’s ability-to-pay in hospital and other public sectors. The author opines: “..Canadian jurisprudence supports the proposition that to allow ability to pay to be a relevant criterion virtually allows the government to determine the terms and conditions which will govern public sector employees by way of their own budgeting process.” She sets forth the reasons why she concludes that arbitrators should reject ability to pay as a criterion.