Despite ample evidence from across Canada that the privatization of garbage collection is not a cost-effective alternative to publicly managed services, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) has recently begun accepting pre-qualification submissions from private companies without first notifying CUPE, who currently handles their garbage collection.
“They didn’t notify us that the contract was being offered to private companies even though our collective agreement requires it,” said CUPE Local 759 president Kevin Ivey. “When we looked through the Council’s minutes to understand what happened, there was no mention of it either. Considering the mayor campaigned on transparency, the secrecy surrounding this decision is disappointing.”
When asked, Councillor Cyril MacDonald suggested that the CBRM is following a trend of municipalities contracting out garbage collection to cut costs; however, many are bringing these services in-house for the same reason. For example, both Paradise and Conception Bay South in Newfoundland and Labrador have returned to the publicly managed model, saving $1,000,000 and $230,000 (annually) respectively. In fact, when looking at the 15 most cited examples of garbage collection privatization in Canadian municipalities, all but 2 were brought back in house following the end of the privately held contract.
“Councillor Cyril MacDonald says contracting out will save the CBRM money, but there’s just no proof that’s what’s going to happen,” said Ivey. “What we do know is that complaints have already gone up in the areas that are covered by private contractors because the work isn’t up to par and the contracts that went private in the 2000s are now worth over $100,000 more than a few years ago. Something stinks in the CBRM, and it’s not the garbage our people collect.”