SDG limits non-union salary increase

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CORNWALL – Due to higher-than-normal inflation, SDG Counties changed how it calculates salary increases for non-unionized employees.

Until now, the Counties adjusted its non-union salary grid by whatever the Consumer Price Index for Ontario was in January. As inflation has been between 6.5 and 7 per cent administration opted to change the plan.

Retiring CAO Tim Simpson added one additional reason for the proposed change – union negotiations. SDG will soon begin contract negotiations with CUPE Local 1715, which represents Transportation Department workers. Their four year deal expires March 31, 2023.

The preferred option presented to council at its December 19 meeting opted for a rolling three year average of the Ontario CPI as it would catch some of the inflationary increases. Under that formula, wages would increase 3.65 per cent, adding $189K to the budget. If left unchanged, a 6.75 per cent increase was projected which would add $350K to next year’s budget.

Council opted to adopt the formula used by the Township of North Dundas for managing salary increases – providing an increase range depending on the CPI. If the CPI is lower than one per cent, staff receive a one per cent salary increase. Should the CPI increase by more than three per cent, only a three per cent raise is given. Any CPI between one and three per cent will result in raises calculated at the actual CPI rate.

A three per cent increase in salary will add $155.5K to next year’s budget.

Councillor Lachlan McDonald (South Glengarry) said he was a proponent of the 1-3 per cent model “because it gives a clear outline of where you can go.”

He suggested that the six municipalities that are part of SDG should adopt a similar policy for consistency. McDonald is a contract employee of the Municipality of South Dundas until early 2023 and is acting treasurer.

South Dundas recently revealed that employees will receive a 5.2 per cent pay increase in 2023 based on the calculations presented at the recent water budget meeting.

Councillor Jamie MacDonald (North Glengarry) agreed with the 1-3 per cent model.

“I think that’s sufficient enough. We just can’t keep hampering ourselves in the future with wages. I don’t think we need to go higher than that.”

Eight members of council supported the 1-3 per cent increase, Councillors Theresa Bergeron (North Dundas), Andrew Guindon (South Stormont) and Steve Densham (North Stormont) opposed the move.

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