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Toronto Civic Employees Union (TCEU), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416, is pleased that Toronto city council has voted for at least a minimum level in transparency. City staff are now required to come back to council with details on private bids for residential collection in Toronto, west of Yonge Street, and for parks litter pickup, and supplying an independent assessment of in-house costs. 

“If the mayor thinks privatization is better, he should be happy to put all the facts on the table,” said Mark Ferguson, president of the TCEU/CUPE Local 416. “I want to have all the facts released publicly because I’m confident that the city’s garbage and recycling workers can deliver a better, more accountable, more efficient, service, and the figures prove we have much better diversion rates. 

“We are cautiously pleased with today’s results,” said Ferguson. “We have worked very hard to bring to the attention of Council, and the taxpayers of this city, that the figures the city has publicly released are not complete, that their comparators were incorrect, and that the responsibility for such a large contract should rest with Council. We are dealing with a $1/4 billion contract and all the facts must be in the public record.” 

A recent report from Al Rosen and Associates, Litigation and Investigative Accountants – one of the most prestigious and highly respected firms in the country – says, clearly, that the appropriate figures to compare public delivery to private delivery just does not exist. The report calls the city numbers “fictional.” 

During the day-long discussion and debate, councilors consistently referred to the problem of not comparing ‘apples-to-apples’ in terms of internal costing comparisons between downtown Toronto and Etobicoke – rather than comparing Etobicoke to the equally-suburban Scarborough. 

“We’re well aware that this battle isn’t over,” Ferguson maintained. “At least now, City Council has a certain responsibility for this contract. It also sets a precedent for future contracting out plans. We all know Mayor Ford has said his next steps are to outsource collections east of Yonge Street to Victoria Park and, then, east to Markham Road. 

“It was clear at today’s council meeting that a number of councillors understand how dirty and dangerous collections work is, and that CUPE members deserve decent wages and good working conditions, as many Canadians have. We, too, continue to work with our community partners to ensure that the residents of Toronto receive the best, cheapest, and cleanest collections there is, and we’re the public service that does it.” 

For more information, please contact:

Mark Ferguson          
President, TCEU/CUPE Local 416              
(416) 602-8561

Wendy Forbes           
CUPE Communications                                
(416) 292-3999

Related article: Rob Ford gets trashed (The Grid, May 18, 2011)