January 27, 2017
Dear Ward 43 Neighbour,
I am writing to you asking for your input on the potential to contract out our household waste collection which includes garbage, blue bin, as well as your green bin to a private company.
By now many of you have either received a knock on your door or a card in your mailbox. (Boy was the union rep surprised when I opened my front door!) Either the person or the card would be from Toronto Civic Employee Union Local 416. This union represents all unionized outside working people employed by the City of Toronto municipal government.
Why is Toronto City Council looking at privatizing the collection of your household waste? The short answer: This was one of the campaign pledges made by Mayor John Tory when he was running for the office of Mayor in 2014.
Before this, the former City of Etobicoke contracted out their waste collection in 1995 prior to amalgamation. When Rob Ford was Mayor of Toronto, City Council voted to contract out all waste collection west of Yonge Street:
Here is the report from 2015: www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-83720.pdf
The City of Toronto is divided into four Districts. Scarborough is designated as District 4. District 1 & 2 have been contracted out already . If District 4 is contracted out…..District 3 will be looked at next.
There are a number of issues which are going to be looked at by City Council. All will have financial impacts on us as taxpayers:
Cost: If the is approved at City Council next week staff will have the approval to be spending a minimum of $500,000 to create a “managed competition process” in place.
Redeployment: The current contract allows for the redeployment of workers with over 15 years’ seniority (If they can’t be redeployed, they would be laid off) The scale of change for contracting out the Scarborough’s waste collection is massive….it will impact about 500 workers (50% of the Department’s remaining labour force). “Redeployment means retraining and disruption which can cause significant challenges. Redeployed workers who end up in another job are guaranteed their current wages for a certain amount of time.
Equipment: As taxpayers, we will no longer need to set aside about $10m annually for waste collection truck replacement, (They wear out quick, even with regular repairs) This is great, but on the other hand, selling all the trucks we do use now will be at rock bottom prices. The public’s investment in waste collection trucks will be almost worthless.
Competition: Local 416 will be allowed to bid on the waste collection contract through the same City of Toronto management who wrote the contracting out report. (There will be communication barriers between different levels of staff) They would be doing so assuming they can buy the right equipment. If available? (see above paragraph) Waste collection across North America is a very competitive industry with well financed companies. The union will more than likely be out-managed and outbid. Private companies will bring their own equipment and management teams.
Taxes: While I can not share all of the financials we are going to discuss. The cost per household for door to door pick up in Scarborough is lower than in other areas of the City. In a 2015 staff report the cost per home in Etobicoke was $142.86, compared to $126.89 in Scarborough. Scarborough also had the highest usage rate for blue bin and green bin by residents. In just over a year, it would seem the difference couldn’t have changed much? I will find out in the confidential document I am provided. Unfortunately I am not allowed to divulge the numbers publicly.
Here is the link to the Ernst and Young Report from 2015: www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-83723.pdf
I will be honest….the last time I voted to privatize waste collection west of Yonge Street. In all the research, I had done on the topic I was comfortable with half the City waste collection being privatized and the other half picked up by unionized employees. Under this scenario both parties must be on top of their game to control costs. There are comparative benchmarks established to see which model works better…. residents would see any significant and potentially costly risks reduced. Complaints about waste collection in Scarborough decreased quite a bit. When I was first elected in 2006 there were probably the number one complaint I received from residents. They are now received much less frequently.
As an example, I will point to this quote from 2014 by Jim Harnum, the former General Manager of the City’s Solid Waste Management Division, “We see that staff are responding. They realize that ‘Hey, we’re going to lose our jobs if we don’t be part of this team …. There’s value in having in-house as well as contracted out. That gives us the ability to keep contractors honest.”
Jim McKay the current General Manager of Solid Waste acknowledges last week in the meeting of the Public Works’ Committee that on the basis of cost per household, waste collection in Scarborough is still cheaper than Etobicoke.
I am now asking for your feedback. Outlined above are many if not all of the issues I will be looking at as we review this in Toronto City Council this month. Just like you and your family, I pay property taxes and want to make sure I get the best value for my hard-earned dollars I give to the City of Toronto as taxes.
If you could please email any comments, to email@example.com I would greatly appreciate it! All comments will be kept strictly confidential and not shared with anyone. I welcome feedback to me on this issue and all others at any time.
Paul Ainslie, City Councillor
Ward 43 Scarborough East
PS. Garbage Bin Fee Increase: And I also will provide you with something else to think about. The City’s Budget Advisory Committee is looking at moving away from the current model of a flat rebate regardless of the size of bin. There would be an increasing sliding scale upwards towards 2023 for full cost recovery. For example, a small garbage which bin which cost a homeowner $18 annually now, will gradually increase each year to $328 annually by 2023.
The link to this report can be found here: www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2017/bu/bgrd/backgroundfile-99908.pdf