Tough Choices? Over $60,000 Paid To McInnes Cooper Law Firm to Privatize Public Sector Negotiations

For Immediate Release:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ST. JOHN’S, NL– Records released to the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) show that the provincial government has paid out over $60,000 to McInnes Cooper law firm for assistance on public sector bargaining.

“It is truly amazing that this government is spending money on a law firm to take on public sector unions in this province at a time when they are cutting jobs and services and closing offices and libraries,” said NAPE President Jerry Earle. “We’ve all been told by this government time and time again that they had to make tough choices in the budget, yet they didn’t seem to have any issue putting money out the door for lawyers and consultants to take on public sector unions. It’s shameful.”

The government has hired the services of McInnes Cooper, a law firm that specializes in labour law, as well as Cathy Dornan, a crisis management and communications specialist to deal with public sector negotiations. The contract means the province is spending $350 or more per hour on the upcoming set of public sector negotiations. This amount is on top of what they are spending on their current staff who normally handles negotiations and communications.

“We haven’t even exchanged one proposal with this government for bargaining and this law firm has already racked up a pretty sizeable tab. It will be interesting to see what the final cost will be by the time negotiations conclude. NAPE has 16 separate bargaining groups alone. We will be filing an ATIPPA request every month on this matter and will be posting constant updates to the public on how their tax dollars are being wasted in this regard,” said Earle. “Another troubling aspect in all of this is that the government missed extremely important bargaining deadlines for at least two public sector unions; throwing negotiations into disarray. You have to wonder what exactly are they paying this law firm to do and are they getting good value for the tax dollars they are spending?”

The ATTIPA request filed by NAPE shows that the government has spent $61,868.97 to-date for services rendered in March, April, and May of this year. This amount includes $20,030.00 for the services of Ms. Dornan alone.

“I was in Bonavista last week, where we heard from a father who could have lost his son due to the reduction of X-ray hours at the hospital in that region – a budget cut that would allegedly save $90,000,” said Earle. “What this government is telling that man, his son, the people of that region, and countless more like them across the province that they would rather spend money on lawyers to take on unions than keep vital public services in place. Think about that for a second.”

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For further information, please contact:

Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator

(phone) 709.570.2501    (cell) 709.631.9737  (email)