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TORONTO – The president of Toronto’s largest city union says that today’s city council vote is evidence that city hall is rushing headlong into the privatization of city services, against the wishes of most Toronto residents.

It’s ironic that many Toronto councillors are still ideologically wedded to contracting out. They are ignoring the risks of turning services over to for-profit companies. They are ignoring the recent scandals over private contracts – scandals that have cost Toronto ratepayers big money,” says Ann Dembinski, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79. “We know that private contractors have been lobbying councillors to take over services. Unfortunately, what is profitable for private contractors is not necessarily good for the public.”

CUPE says city councillors are not being honest about their objectives. “Today’s vote shows that most of our councillors have jumped on the privatization bandwagon, they’re just not willing to admit it,” says Dembinski. “City council is avoiding the public’s reservations about contracting out and privatization. People are very concerned about the threat to public safety and privacy. Haven’t city councillors learned anything from the recent water scandals?”

Bargaining stalled

CUPE Local 79 is also stymied by the city’s failure to properly negotiate with its workers. “City negotiators say they will not meet with Local 79 until June 28, even though our strike deadline is June 29,” says Dembinski. “The city is squeezing both city locals for negotiating time. Given the serious issues that remain outstanding – especially job security – and given the city’s push to contract out services, it is now very likely that 24,000 city workers will be on strike by the end of the month.”

CUPE Local 79 represents 17,000 city employees, 15,000 of whom could be on strike by the end of the month.


Shannon McManus, CUPE Communications: