The city of Toronto spelled out Friday which services will continue to operate — and which won't —  in the event of a strike or lockout with its unionized workers

City Manager Peter Wallace spoke at a 1 p.m. news conference, saying the city is working toward a negotiated settlement with two CUPE locals, but cautioned a strike or lockout will have "significant impacts on the vital services of the city."

City Manager Peter Wallace

City Manager Peter Wallace provides an update at city hall on Friday on contingency plans in the event of a labour stoppage. (CBC)

Wallace said so far talks have involved "tough bargaining" with the goal of reaching a negotiated settlement but said there "is a very real possibility we won't reach a deal."

He said services related to health and safety, including police, fire and paramedics, will continue to operate, while others will be put on hold.

Services that will not be affected include:

  • Fire.
  • Police.
  • Paramedics.
  • Long-term city-operated care homes.
  • Waste water treatment.
  • Transportation services (snow clearing, sanding).
  • Ontario Works clients will continue to get their benefits.
  • Toronto newcomer office will stay open for Syrian refugees.
  • Out of the cold program.
  • Emergency shelters.
  • Toronto court services.

The following services will not operate in the event of a strike or lockout:

  • Child care centres.
  • Arenas and community centres.
  • Waste collection east of Yonge Street.
  • Building permits.

"We simply do not have the resources to continue these services," said Wallace. "We are prioritizing health and safety and vital public services."

Mayor John Tory has warned there's a "real chance" of a labour disruption involving 25,000 City of Toronto unionized inside and outside workers. 

"We wish things were going better at the bargaining table, the last couple of days have been really challenging and difficult," said Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, Chair of the Employee and Labour Relations Committee.

"We're looking for more flexibility,they're looking for less flexibility," said Minnan-Wong of the union. 

Denzil Minnan-Wong

Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the city's employee and labour relations committee, discusses the status of negotiations with the union on Friday at city hall. (CBC)

The city has been in talks to reach a new labour deal with the two CUPE locals.

The heads of both CUPE locals told reporters on Friday they put full proposals on the table two days ago and now are waiting for a response from the city. 

They also said they believe it's too early to worry about a strike or lockout and they're concentrating on getting a deal, instead.

"Our focus is on a collective agreement, that's what we need to achieve here. We are not focused on a contingency plan at all and the city has to be focused on a collective agreement, as well," said Matt Alloway of CUPE local 416. 

"We're not focused on service disruption," says Tim Maguire, CUPE local 79 president.

Tim Maguire and Matt Alloway

CUPE local 79 president Tim Maguire, left, and Cupe Local 416 head Matt Alloway, right, respond to comments made by city officials about negotiating a collective agreement for their members. (CBC)

Local 79 represents inside workers, while Local 416 represents outside employees.

Local 79 workers are in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 20, while Local 416 is in a strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 19.

The union has said its members want improved job security, with many workers holding permanent part-time positions.