ABOVE: Rob Ford expecting garbage collection to be an election issue. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford has started the process of contracting out the remainder of Toronto’s garbage collection.
Standing alongside councillor – and sometime foe – Denzil Minnan-Wong Monday afternoon at city hall, Ford congratulated the city’s private garbage collector Green For Life for saving the city approximately $12 million so far. And he said he wants them to do more.
“When the taxpayers are happy, I am happy,” Ford said.
Ford wants a study on contracting out the remaining service – everything east of Yonge Street – by January 2015; Minnan-Wong wants a study on the pros and cons of contracting out the service by spring, 2014.
But the two are effectively asking for the same thing:
“I think the mayor is correct, we are on the same page, we’d like to move forward in terms of looking at contracting out district 3 and district 4 (east of Yonge Street),” Minnan-Wong said.
Watch the video below: Mayor Ford and Denzil Minnan-Wong move to explore contracting out garbage collection.
While Minnan-Wong’s motion could see the decision made prior to the election (if supported by city staff and council), the mayor’s would not.
“It is an election issue,” Ford said at the press conference.
Ford also made contracting out garbage an election issue in 2010, promising to end unionized garbage pickup across the city. He was only able to achieve half that promise, contracting out service west of Yonge Street. He promised to extend that east of Yonge Street in his second term.
“I encourage the unions to compete on this bid but we have to move as quick as possible,” Ford said.
CUPE 416 Vice-President Dave Hewitt said he was not surprised by the mayor’s announcement, though he did expect it at a later date. He said the union – whose members include the city’s public garbage collectors – has been trying to find “efficiencies” to save the city money since June and was hoping they’d be given a year to see how much could be saved.
While Ford is adamant his decision is about saving taxpayer money, Hewitt claims the move to contract out garbage west of Yonge Street was nothing more than an ideological decision.
“We said we’d go down in wages and we’d do whatever we have to do to save west of Yonge, we’d go out, change shifts, whatever else, to work with them and they didn’t want it,” Hewitt said. “It was all about ideology with this mayor and ideology, west of Yonge, it wasn’t about cost savings whatsoever. There were costs to be saved there but they didn’t want to hear that.”
– With files from Mark McAllister
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