Are we on the verge of a garbage strike?

Or are we one step closer to privatization…

By the time you read this article we will know whether we are starting a garbage strike or possibly averting one. But as l write this article there seems to be no deal in sight between Toronto and union representing more than 5,000 outside workers.

Garbage strike in Toronto in 2002

The City of Toronto have released a contingency plan in the case of a mass labour disruption.

Should a new collective agreement not be reached by both parties by the end of this week, Toronto could see all event permits for city parks, sport fields and arenas cancelled. Street cleaning and routine maintenance to roads, sidewalks and bridges could all be suspended.

The biggest issue of this strike will be all garbage collection would stop for commercial buildings across the city and in more than half of all residential areas. All residential homes east of Yonge street will have all garbage collection stopped. City litter bins would also stop being serviced in the event of a strike, leaving Toronto’s parks, streets and public squares flooded with trash.

In the west end of the city where garbage collection has been contracted out to private firms, garbage will continue to be collected as scheduled with potential delays. Should a labour disruption occur, the city will open 11 temporary waste drop-off sites, locations for which have yet to be announced. The lock out deadline had been set by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour for Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 – CUPE after more than four months of unsuccessful collective bargaining with the city. Both the City of Toronto and CUPE 416 maintain that they wish to reach a settlement before the provincial-mandated strike/lockout deadline hits.

I have a close relationship with Local 416 and my sources are telling me that Mayor John Tory does not want to get a settlement done.

You may ask why???

Mayor Tory deep down is in favour of privatization and would like to see garbage collection done the same way that it’s been picked up west of Yonge Street. My sources are telling me that Tory and his side kick Councillor Denzel Minnan-Wong are working behind the scenes to privatize garbage collection across the board. Tory is a big proponent of privatization and the money that is saved would be diverted into his transit plan.

Garbage collection privatization is only the beginning of Mayor John Tory’s move to transition many of the cities services to the private sector. Watch for the parking authority to be the next big fight that Tory wants to sell off for big bucks.

Mayor Tory is also exploring the privatization of Toronto Hydro and the Toronto Parking Authority as he searches for money to pay for better transit and more affordable housing.

A possible scenario would be to sell 49 per cent or less of the utility company and roll those funds into Mr. Tory’s only possible legacy and that is transit or as he calls it smart track.

These moves could net billions of badly needed dollars for infrastructure. But they are also certain to cause a political firestorm. The left of council is totally behind Local 416 and would fight tooth and nail not to sell off assets. These moves by John Tory align with his goals of finding funding for his ambitious infrastructure projects. Tory’s administration would have to overcome significant obstacles to sell the assets. A majority of Toronto councillors would also have to support any privatization plan – no easy feat considering the city’s fractious council.

Tory is a very sneaky Mayor and has been working the left side of council quite considerable on many of these issues, one might even say that he seems more comfortable on the left side of council these days.

Councillor Joe Cressey has expressed on many occasions that the common view among council’s left wing is that selling off profitable city assets is short-sighted and not the way to go.

The previous Ontario Liberal government had on many occasions encouraged Mr. Tory’s administration to consider privatization of Toronto Hydro and internally the city was also seriously considering selling off financially profitable assets from the City of Toronto.

So, this process has been going on in many quarters of the inner workings of city hall for many years and John Tory is just waiting for the right time to drop the axe and he just many do it with garbage collection.

Don’t be surprised if garbage collection east of Yonge Street goes the same way as west of Yonge Street. With this being the first shoe to drop with many other departments following suit very soon.

The City of Toronto is up for sale and John Tory is the listing agent.

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