Toronto city council debates privatizing garbage pickup

City says it will save $8 million per year; union refutes that estimate
||Last Updated: 05/17/2011

Toronto city council is debating today whether or not to privatize a portion of the city’s garbage collection. The city says the plan will eliminate about 300 jobs — mostly temporary positions — and save approximately $8 million per year.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 416 says the estimate is flawed, though, and believes this move would see 240 full-time unionized employees lose their jobs.

Last week, forensic accounting firm Al Rosen and Associates released a report commissioned by CUPE and the Toronto Civic Employees Union (TCEU) that indicates the potential cost savings from contracting out are speculative. It suggests that an independent assessment of the cost of in-house delivery should be conducted.

“I firmly believe that, if the city solid waste managers sat down with front line workers, we could find efficiencies that would save money for taxpayers,” said TCEU/CUPE Local 416 president, Mark Ferguson.

Meanwhile, an Ipsos Reid poll released yesterday found 61 per cent of Toronto residents support privatizing some of the city’s curbside pickup, while around 30 per cent oppose the idea. About eight per cent were undecided. The poll was commissioned by the Ontario Waste Management Association, which represents 300 private waste management companies.

It was announced in council earlier today that the power to award the final contract would be given to the city, not the bid committee as originally proposed. This has been a contentious issue for many city councillors and could be the compromise that will garner enough support for privatizing garbage collection.

Toronto city council is expected to vote on the issue later today.

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