The province introduced legislation that will prevent large-scale power outages in Parry Sound-Muskoka and across Ontario.

The decision was made yesterday to address the collective bargaining deadlock between Ontario Power Generation and the Power Workers’ Union.

“People across Ontario need and deserve a reliable power supply, especially over the winter months,” said Norman Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka. “Right now, that’s at risk.”

A work stoppage at OPG would significantly impact Ontario’s electricity supply.

The Independent Electricity System Operator concluded that Ontario would not have the electricity needed to meet consumer demand resulting in brownouts and blackouts across the province.

The collective agreement between OPG and PWU expired on March 31.  A tentative agreement was rejected by a majority of employees represented by the PWU on August 9th.

After additional negotiations, the agreement was put to a second ratification vote, which was also rejected.  PWU gave strike notice on December 14th.

The proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act, 1995 would prohibit and stop any strikes or lockouts between OPG and PWU for the current round of bargaining and send all matters in dispute to a mediator-arbitrator for a fair dispute resolution process.

“This is a health and safety issue,” said Miller. “There are many people in rural and Northern Ontario who heat with electricity – we cannot leave them without heat in the winter.”

The proposed legislation could remove the risk of widespread power outages and allow a resolution to the dispute.