Ford makes it official: Toronto wants to contract out its garbage collection

Ford makes it official: Toronto wants to contract out its garbage collection

We've been expecting you, privatization: the smell of the garbage strike still lingers (Image: Alfred Ng, from the Flickr pool) 

The last time the Toronto Sun ran a cover story based on an exclusive from the mayor’s office, it was that Rob and Doug Ford were dreaming the impossible dream of bringing an NFL team to Toronto—an idea that not even the Sun’s sports columnist took seriously. But sometimes there’s more important news to break, and this morning it was the Sun that reported that the mayor’s office is moving early to privatize garbage collection in the city.

From the Sun’s story this morning:

The plan is to contract the city’s garbage collection in stages beginning with the start of a new contract with CUPE local 416, which represents trash collectors and other outside workers. The current contract expires on Dec. 31 of this year.

Sources say 90 days notice must be given to the union before council can vote whether to pursue contracting out. Council will also need to decide whether to engage in managed competition (where the union is also allowed to bid) or to seek private bidders only.

At present, city forces collect garbage in every area of Toronto except Etobicoke — a fact that particularly hit home during the 39-day garbage strike of July 2009 when only Etobicoke residents continued to get their trash picked up.

Just before the 12:30 p.m. press conference, reports came out that CUPE 416 had indeed been served notice that the city is going to begin the privatization process. CUPE’s full-time workers have all sorts of work guarantees—essentially, the city has to find new work for them even if it’s not picking up trash. There’s more flexibility in the part-time workers (isn’t there always?), so we assume that Ford’s plan is to shed those workers first.

According to the CBC, the proposal is to start with west Toronto, south of Steeles and between Yonge and the Humber River, which would basically make garbage collection a union-free zone from the Mississauga border to Air Canada Centre (Etobicoke’s already got it, natch). Presumably, full privatization will have to wait until the city renegotiates its contract with CUPE. While candidate Ford promised that privatization would save the city $20 million, this effort is so far estimated to save the city only $8 million.

Of course, all today’s announcement really means is that there’s going to be a really acrimonious city council vote in three months’ time. Mark the 17th of May in the calendar—it’s the first council meeting after the union’s 90-day breathing room period ends. Will council roll over like they did for all of the mayor’s early priorities? We’re skeptical that any councillor will actually be willing to stick their neck out for CUPE when the stench of the strike still lingers, but this city’s politics never fail to surprise.

Ford moves to contract out trash collection [Toronto Sun]
• Trash pickup privatization plan begins []
• Rob Ford mounts bid to privatize garbage collection in Toronto [Globe and Mail]
• Who is more deluded: Rob Ford or the labour unions? [Toronto Life]