COTAPSA In Action: Our Results

Each new year brings different challenges to our members. More recently, our experience and knowledge has resulted in the following successes.

Over the past two years COTAPSA has advocated for an increase in salaries for non-union employees to make up for two years of wage freezes and ensure non-union wages in the City are competitive with those offered by comparable employers.  As a result of our advocacy, we have achieved a number of successes, including:

  • an increase in minimum and maximum salary ranges for all wage grades;
  • salary adjustments in 2022 including a 2.5% increase for all non-union employees;
  • reinstatement of COLA for 2022 and 2023; and
  • reinstatement of merit increases through the Pay for Performance program.

In 2023 all non-union employees will see COLA increases of 1.5% retroactive to January 1st and .25% in July and Pay for Performance adjustments.
This includes those currently at the top of their salary range who will now progress through their new salary range to the “maximum”, as opposed to receiving lump sum payments each year. 

COTAPSA continues to advocate for higher merit increases through Pay for Performance as non-union employees should progress more rapidly through their salary ranges.  The City has committed to reviewing this process in 2023 and we hope to provide an update to our Members later this year as discussions continue.

In 2022 Toronto City Council approved a one per cent (1%) Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and 2.5% salary adjustment for all non-union and management employees retroactive to January 1, 2022.  These adjustments were paid out on the April 28 pay statement.

In May of 2022, the City made the decision that those employees who had provided their resignation or notice of retirement before April 19, 2022 were ineligible for the COLA and the salary adjustments.  As these employees had already been paid out these adjustments, the City indicated that they would be recovering these funds from employee’s prearranged SPG (Sick Pay Gratuity) payout and advised others who did not have SPG to pay the money back.

COTAPSA believed this was wrong and following months of discussions with City and no successful resolution to the matter, COTAPSA filed a complaint under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) claiming that any employee actively working, on vacation or retired after January 1, 2022 should be eligible for the COLA and salary adjustment.  In early 2023, COTAPSA was advised that its claim was justified and on March 3, 2023, the City’s position was reversed and both the COLA and salary adjustment were applied to all previously ineligible non-union employees who retired between January 1, 2022 and April 19, 2022.

When an employee with 20 years’ service with City of Toronto requested a day off as vacation but was denied because she was told by her new manager that she had the least seniority in her division.  Her manager further advised that vacation for management staff in her division is based on seniority in the position in the division.  COTAPSA disagreed.

The City’s Vacation Policy states that “supervisors are responsible for managing vacation schedules to ensure employees use their vacation before year-end. Each division is responsible for the preparation of its own vacation schedules and may specify periods when vacations may not be scheduled because of operational requirements. Every effort shall be made to grant annual vacations on the dates requested by employees”.  The Policy is not prescriptive of how management vacation requests are approved or scheduled and it clearly doesn’t state that it is based on seniority.

COTAPSA contacted City’s P&E staff who contacted the Director of the division.  The Director agreed with us and stated that seniority should not be a factor in decision making for vacations.   Resultantly, the manager of the division apologized to the employee and stated she had mistakenly given the employee the wrong information about vacation approval process for management staff.  Her manager offered to approve her initial vacation request but she declined.  

COTAPSA reminds our members that if you are unsure and/or require clarification on a City policy and/or procedure please do not hesitate to contact us.

A Member received a Letter of Expectation and Letter of Notice at the same time.  He was both surprised and highly disconcerted to receive both letters together.  He had been a dedicated, loyal employee; consistently rewarded for his good work and dedication through annual performance increases.  The Member contacted COTAPSA for assistance. 

COTAPSA reviewed both Letters and questioned the timing of the Letters and the language contained within.  The Letter of Expectation stated that “any further incident warranting disciplinary action may lead to further discipline including suspensions without pay or termination.”  In COTAPSA’s opinion, the Letter of Expectation formed a “disciplinary letter.”  It was also our opinion that the City “disguised discipline” in the form of a Letter of Expectation.

Results:  COTAPSA contacted P&E Staff, requested that the Letters be retracted and removed.  Through COTAPSA’s intervention, the City agreed that the Letter of Expectation was not intended to be disciplinary. The City agreed to reissue the Letter of Expectation with the removal of the last sentence that contained the reference to further discipline and/or termination

Members contacted COTAPSA expressing concerns that a job call for a supervisory position had not been posted ‘internally,’ only ‘externally’. 

COTAPSA did not consider the posting of jobs ‘externally ‘only to be a normal practice and resultantly, contacted the City’s P&E staff seeking clarification on the matter.  The Division responded advising that this practice was followed when they post union temporary and part-time jobs.  Notwithstanding, COTAPSA raised that there is no reason why City P&E staff should not also post these opportunities internally, and it was agreed that going forward they will ensure that this happens.

In this particular circumstance, although the job posting had closed City P&E staff agreed to consider our members applications for an interview.

COTAPSA is committed to ensuring fairness and equity for all non-union management members.  Members can assist us by reporting to COTAPSA any information that they have or anything they hear.

A Member retired.  Prior to his retirement COTAPSA was assisting the member with an outstanding matter with the City in particular the member had incurred a “not a business related long distance charge“.  Without his authorization or written consent the City deducted the amount owing from his pay. 

The Employment Standards Act section 13 states that (1) An employer shall not withhold wages payable to an employee, make a deduction from an employee’s wages or cause the employee to return his or her wages to the employer unless authorized to do so under this section, 2000, c.41, s.13 (1) and (3) An employer may withhold or make a deduction from an employee’s wages or cause the employee to return them with the employee’s written authorization. 2000, c.41, s. 13.

COTAPSA agreed with the member that the City’s deduction, without the members written consent is a violation of the Employment Standards Act. 

Result: COTAPSA contacted P&E Staff.  City HR confirmed that the City’s deduction, without the member’s written consent is a violation of the ESA.  HR staff went on to say that the City is not permitted to make such deductions from the employee’s wages, and the City will proceed to reverse this deduction. 

Any deduction made from an employee are subject to specific, written approval from employee. An exception to this is:

  • Any situation where an employee was overpaid due to a legitimate payroll error (a technical one in the actual entry of data).  In this circumstances, the deduction can be made without seeking employee approval, as it is deemed that the employee did not have a right to the wages in the first place.

In many situations, members are terminated without just cause.  They are shocked, surprised and disappointed by their sudden termination of employment.  They have always treated their position within the City with the utmost professionalism, commitment and due diligence, and as such want to continue their career at the City.  They have been successful in their work given the appropriate compensation increases over the years.   The City has made no attempt to find alternate work.  We believe that the City could found a position for within their area of skills and expertise but there is no obligation and/or redeployment rights for non-union and management employees.

The City of Toronto may dismiss an employee as long as the City provides the employee with adequate notice and adequate compensation. 

COTAPSA’s position is that our members are entitled to appropriate pay in lieu of notice and severance/common law pay than what has already been provided by the City.

Results: In the vast majority of situations, COTAPSA reviews Termination Packages for Members and negotiates more favorable terms such as:

  • Payment of Outstanding Wages, Vacation Savings Pay, Unused Lieu Time, and Unused Vacation, Unused Float and Expenses;

  • Payment for Pay for Performance and Cost of Living

  • Reasonable Pay in Lieu of Notice and Common Law

  • Positive Reference letters to be provided

  • In special circumstances, on occasion, additional compensation