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Plan to privatize Scarborough garbage collection goes before city council

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017

The public works committee have voted in favour of privatizing garbage collection east of Yonge Street.

After lengthy debate at City Hall, the committee deciding to take the idea to a full council vote in two weeks time where private companies, and the city’s own collectors – CUPE Local 416 – would all be asked to make a pitch to collect trash.

The union hasn’t decided if it will take part in the bidding process, insisting they’re still under contract for several more years.

Dozens of city waste collectors, wearing shirts with “Kicked to the Curb” written across the chest, were present for the meeting. Officials estimated that the privatization of garbage collection could result in the loss of 200 to 250 unionized jobs.

Wednesday’s decision came after a number of people had their say about the issue, including former premier Bob Rae, who called it was a bad idea. Rae says just because privatization worked in the west end doesn’t mean it is right for the east end.

While a city report insists millions could be saved, several councillors spoke out against the mayor, saying there are conflicting reports on whether or not this will actually save money. A three year old staff report – the latest to be made public – compared Etobicoke’s private garbage collection at $142 dollars per household to the City’s unionized garbage collection in Scarborough at $126 dollars per household.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who supported privatization in the west end when Rob Ford was mayor, says monopolizing the service will eliminate competition and lead to higher costs.

“We should not give the private sector a monopoly over our services, especially when the 2015 staff report said that the current mix provides the best value and lowest risk to the city,” he said. “So if there is no cost savings, why would we do it?”

Another argument surfacing Wednesday says privatizing garbage collection is having an effect on the environment. Based on city data compiled by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, there is less recycling happening in Etobicoke compared to Scarborough.

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