Toronto council approves deals to end strike

Toronto city councillors voted narrowly Friday evening to approve deals worked out with two CUPE unions to bring an end to the strike by municipal workers.

Two councillors barred from voting due to conflict of interest

Toronto city councillors voted narrowly Friday evening to approve deals worked out with two CUPE unions to bring an end to the strike by municipal workers.

The vote was 21-17 in favour and followed a lengthy debate during a special daylong council meeting.

Some councillors threatened to scuttle the deals — which would probably mean a return to the picket lines — but in the end, the opponents couldn't muster enough votes.

Details of the agreements were explained to council by staff. Some parts were severely criticized by some members, who believe the city gave away too much. Others complained that they did not get to see the details of the pact until Friday morning.

The agreements contain increases in salary and benefits of about 5.6 per cent over the three-year contracts and a system to "grandfather," or phase out, a contentious sick-day bank.

The unions, CUPE Local 416, which represents outside workers, and Local 79, representing inside workers, ratified their deals in votes held on Wednesday and Thursday.

City councillors spent most of the day questioning city managers and trading barbs with each other.

The city council session got off to a rocky start when two city councillors, David Shiner and Peter Milczyn, were not allowed to vote because they were deemed to have a conflict of interest in the issue. Each has a family member in one of the unions.

Both have been vocal critics of Mayor David Miller and both had mused publicly about not supporting the deal.

"That's disgraceful," Shiner angrily said as he left the meeting room. "You should step down right now. The people of the city want to see you resign," he said to Miller.

At about 3:30 p.m. reporters and members of the public were asked to leave the council chamber so council could go "in camera" — a legal term for when members wish to discuss issues privately.

The request was made after a city manager refused to answer questions in public about what sort of tax increases, if any, might be expected if council ratifies the deal.

Following the private session, councillors resumed their debate in public late in the afternoon.

About 24,000 workers were off the job for 39 days while another 6,000 were deemed essential and stayed on the job. 

The unions and the city managers didn't wait for council's approval. Employees began returning to work Friday morning and city services are slowly returning to normal. 

Garbage collectors were out early on the streets of Canada's largest city, emptying the 5,000 street-level trash containers. They're also set to tackle the mountains of garbage that have been built up in temporary dumps over the past six weeks.

Although some services are back, city managers caution there could be delays. All services, including residential garbage collection, are expected to be restored by early next week.

  • Ferry service to the Toronto Islands will resume regular service on Saturday.
  •  City-run daycares will reopen Tuesday.
  •  Swimming pools will be cleaned and should reopen next week.
  •  Summer camp registration will begin next Wednesday.
  •  City service desks have reopened.

Most temporary garbage dumps will close Friday evening, although five will remain open until Saturday.

Garbage and green bin collection for residential and commercial customers will resume on Tuesday.

For the first two pickups of both recycling and waste, residents will be allowed to put out unlimited amounts, and no yellow tags will be required for garbage during that time. Extra recycling should be placed in clear plastic bags.

Other services that Torontonians depend on will start to come back over the next few days:

"While it may take us a few days, Torontonians can expect to have all of their city services up and running by early next week," said Miller.