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HALIFAX – The union representing Halifax’s municipal outside workers says hiring more private contractors is not the solution for the municipality’s snow and ice-clearing woes.

CUPE Local 108 President Mike Young says, “In fact, our over-reliance on contractors was a huge part of the problem this year – especially the mess the sidewalks were in.

CUPE points to a binge of contracting out in 2012 which included more than $17 million in snow removal contracts, as just one example.

“This mayor and council and the senior managers who are responsible for service delivery need to come to grips with the fact that years and years of contracting out and a shrunken municipal workforce have put us in this position,” says Young.

He says, “The residents and taxpayers in Halifax deserve some answers as to why the state of our roads and sidewalks were so bad this winter. Local 108 members were working flat out this year and I’ve never seen so many members off sick from exhaustion.

“But the reality that senior management has created is that we have a municipal workforce that has shrunk dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. And anybody who lived through this winter can tell you that the private contractors who were supposed to pick up the slack during huge snow events, were not up to the task.”

Young says the members of council who have been on the sidelines cheerleading for expanded contracting out also need to take some responsibility for the huge problems this year.

“My advice for the people conducting this year’s annual review of snow clearing operations is to start thinking outside the box, which I know is hard to do when you are the box, but residents deserve much better than they received this winter,” says Young.