Interest arbitration is a mechanism used to resolve disputes in the collective bargaining process. In binding interest arbitration, disputing parties agree in advance to accept the terms of a deal as decided by a neutral third party. ACFO’s collective bargaining team and the Employer have now reached an impasse in negotiations; therefore the matter is being referred for binding interest arbitration to determine a new FI collective agreement.

The procedures and process of interest arbitration are governed by the Public Service Labour Relations Act and Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) Regulations. To trigger the start of the arbitration proceeding, a Request for Arbitration will be filed with the PSLRB Chairperson.

Over the course of the current round of negotiations, ACFO and the Employer have identified the main issues of contention. The parties will jointly define the issues, terms and conditions to be referred to arbitration.

ACFO and the Employer typically request a three-member arbitration board that will decide on outstanding matters at the bargaining table. The members of the arbitration board will be nominated through a selection process by the Employer and ACFO. If the parties cannot agree on arbitration board members, the PSRLB would appoint an arbitrator.

The role of the arbitration board is to attempt to replicate what the parties might have arrived at, had both parties been left to free market forces, which include the right to strike and the right to lockout. An interest arbitration board’s impression of what the parties might have eventually settled for will depend on the evidence presented at the hearing.

With respect to that evidence, the arbitration board will be required to consider a number of factors, including conditions of employment in similar occupations outside the Public Service, the need to maintain appropriate relationships between classification levels within the Public Service, the state of the Canadian economy, and the Government’s fiscal circumstances.

Based on recent binding arbitration cases and the number of issues outstanding, we anticipate that an expedited decision can be reached in 7-9 months.

Ronald A. Pink, a founding and managing partner of Pink Larkin will be ACFO’s Counsel for this arbitration hearing.

For more information in the matter, please contact ACFO Labour Relations Advisor Grant Boland at or Collective Bargaining Chair Karen Hall at, or call the national office at (613) 728-0695 or toll-free at 1-877-728-0695.