The City of Toronto could be headed for a work stoppage in a matter of weeks with labour negotiations between the city and its two largest unions at an apparent stalemate.

The city is in talks with two CUPE locals that represent 5,400 outside workers and about 23,000 inside workers. 

The city's website describes current collective agreements with its unions as "cumbersome" and a "barrier to service delivery."

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong chairs the city's labour and employee relations committee and said the city needs more flexibility in future labour deals.

"From time to time we might have to get rid of an employee who is not working," he said. "It could take as long as two years to remove that person. That's an arrangement that really doesn't work for us."

However CUPE spokesperson Katrina Miller said job security is a huge issue in negotiations.

"Our front-line workers that we represent need greater stability in the hours they work and security to know that their job will give them the pay and the benefits they need to make their lives work," she said.

Minnan-Wong says the rising cost of benefits is another factor the city is struggling with.

"I think most people know that if you work for the city, you have a pretty good deal," he said. "A lot of my constituents would love to work for the city."

Work stoppage could come by Feb. 20

Last week, the city requested that Ontario's labour ministry issue a no-board report for negotiations with CUPE Local 416, which represents the city's outside workers. 

With the no-board report requested, a legal strike or lockout could come as early as Feb. 20. 

The city's bargaining website says a plan is in place to operate key city services in the event of a labour disruption.


  • An earlier version of this story said that a no-board report had been issued. In fact a no-board report was requested by the city but has not yet been issued by the province.
    Feb 04, 2016 9:45 AM ET