The City of Winnipeg's garbage-collection provider says the kinks in its new system will be ironed out soon, while it faces penalties if service delays continue.

Emterra, the company that holds Winnipeg's garbage collection contract, has been the subject of numerous complaints from residents since the revamped citywide collection system began at the beginning of this month, with many people saying their garbage pickup has been days behind schedule.

Paulina Leung, Emterra's business development manager, told CBC News the delays have been caused by a number of changes in the program.

"There are lots of changes happening in the program that affect residents in terms of using new carts, new schedules, proper cart placement, and also for our drivers — learning the new routes, being proficient in running the routes, and operating the new equipment," she said Wednesday.

In a release issued late Wednesday, the City of Winnipeg acknowledged that garbage collection is "a half-day to a day behind schedule in some areas."

Collectors are working late into the evenings and will continue working into the weekend to catch up, according to the release.

Leung said it will take four to six weeks for the system to be running smoothly, but she added that the changes are worth it.

Thousands of calls

The city's 311 hotline has received more than 5,400 "calls of service deficiencies from customers" regarding the garbage service since Oct. 1, a spokesperson told CBC News.

The number of complaints represents about two per cent of all garbage collection customers, the spokesperson added.

The city's contract with Emterra allows for a one-month grace period, but the company could lose the work "if performance issues (e.g. missed collections) remain unacceptable in the longer term," the spokesperson said.

"There are penalties that I believe should be implemented on the contractor if — and I think you have to come up with a reasonable amount of time, whether that's one pickup or two pickups — but from my point of view, that's when penalties should start kicking in," Mayor Sam Katz said earlier Wednesday.

"That's something the department has been very much made aware of, and I think they'll make that decision."

However, Katz is also urging the public to be patient while kinks in the new collection system are worked out.