Tag Archives: City of Toronto

More strike winners and losers

(Originally written Aug. 7 for Town Crier.)

Did Mayor David Miller, businesses and society as a whole win or lose in the city strike?
I am looking at it from all three sides. I have also examined the labour dispute and its aftermath from perspective of the city, unions and residents. For that part of the story, click here.

It’s all losses as far as I can tell. 
Many small businesses that get city trash pick-up could take garbage to temporary dumps, but let’s face it some of them had to pony up cash for a private hauler.
Some businesses also had to cancel or relocate scheduled events because the city was not issuing permits or cleaning up garbage. In some cases, non-union staff and management helped with clean up of major street festivals such as the Pride parade.

Mayor David Miller
Miller has been badly beaten up by the media, councillors in opposition to him, unions and residents. He probably lost more than most when it comes to public perception. Continue reading


Strike’s over, who won and lost?

A reflection on the civic labour dispute
(This was written Aug. 7 for Town Crier.)

So the 39-day strike is over.
Are you still wondering who emerged victorious from this civic battle? 
I am. 
“Everyone loses. Civility is lost. Spin replaces truth. The Canadian sense of compromise is compromised,” lefty councillor Joe Mihevc tells me. “I don’t know any strike where people can say, ‘this ended well’.”
No one wins in a strike, Mayor David Miller said repeatedly at press conferences and I agree. 
But clearly this messy public fight can’t be summed up as simply as “everyone lost”. So I’m taking a closer look at exactly who won and lost from the point of view of the residential taxpayers, the City of Toronto and unions. 
I also looked at the labour unrest from the perspective of businesses, the mayor and society at large, click here for that story. Continue reading

City funds drug prevention programs

Toronto council cash for 42 community programs
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Aug. 14 for Town Crier.)

It’s about steering Riverdale youth and women away from drug abuse.
Programs offered by two area community centres will share in $830,000 approved by the city on Aug. 5 for 42 projects aimed at drug-abuse prevention.
The South Riverdale Community Health Centre received almost $28,000 for its 52-week Counterfit Women’s Harm Reduction Project. The program will employ five people to do outreach, develop workshops and consult with various groups like police and Children’s Aid Services.
The Ralph Thornton Centre got nearly $18,000 for a 25-week program called A Photo Voice Project for Youth, which involves teens mentoring youngsters and building their leadership skills.
Winnie Lee, program director at the Ralph Thornton Centre on Queen St. East, says the project includes workshops on drug-abuse prevention.
“We aim to build up (participants’) self-confidence and problem-solving skills that are conducive to leading a drug-free life,” she says. Continue reading

Miller strikes back at critics

An exclusive op-ed for the Town Crier by Mayor David Miller
This opinion piece by T.O’s mayor offers his thoughts on the strike

By Mayor David Miller
(Written by Mayor Miller Aug. 11 for the Town Crier. This is the paper Kris Scheuer works as city hall reporter.)

The strike by CUPE local 79 and TCEU local 416 was an extremely difficult time for the people of Toronto, city employees and city council.
However, Torontonians coped remarkably well. City management and non-union staff deserve immense credit for the work they did to keep the city moving while 30,000 people were off the job.
One question I was repeatedly asked during the labour disruption was why it had to happen at all. Now that we’ve reached a negotiated settlement with our employees, I believe it’s a good time to answer that question.
The unions went on strike because they wanted parity with provincewide contracts like the one awarded to the Toronto Police Service by an arbitrator. Such settlements, reached between 2006 and 2008, followed a provincial pattern of wage increases of at least 3 percent per year. With benefit improvements, those contracts saw employment costs for Ontario cities climb in the range of 11 and 12 percent over a three-year period. Continue reading

Woodbine beach swimming unsafe

Swims not recommended at Sunnyside, Kew-Balmy and Bluffer’s either: city
Cherry only beach with low E.coli levels in water department latest tests
By Kris Scheuer

Toronto water departmentis testing water quality at five city beaches. The latest test, on Monday, was posted on July 28 and indicates only one of these beaches has a safe enough level of E.coli for Toronto Public Health to declare it safe for swimming. So dive right in at Cherry Beach, the water is just fine.
The weather is starting to pick up, so let me know what the water temperature is like if you do head down there.
Keep in mind that the city, which normally tests water daily at 11 beaches, is doing modified testing during the strike which is not officially over yet. So check the city’s site for the latest as new tests are conducted Monday-Friday at Sunnyside, Kew-Balmy, Woodbine, Cherry and Bluffer’s beaches. Continue reading

City and unions strike a deal

Tentative agreement between city and striking CUPE members
Unions to take new contract to vote as soon as July 29

Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written July 27 for Town Crier.)
The city reached a settlement today to end the 36-day strike, Mayor David Miller announced this afternoon. 
“Without question this has been a difficult period for everyone,” Miller said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference.
“It’s good news for the 30,000 women and men who can now get back to doing the jobs they do so well. It’s especially good news for the residents and businesses that count on city services especially the families and children who have been struggling without access to city run daycares, camps and pools.” 
Miller thanked Torontonians for their patience and co-operation “under very difficult circumstances.” Continue reading

Mayor Miller a man for the people

David Miller campaigned on cleaning up Toronto and stopping backroom deals
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier newspaper Nov.11/03.)

On what must rank as one of the biggest nights of his life, mayor-elect David Miller still remembered the little people: his son and daughter. 
In the midst of sheer chaos in an atmosphere resembling a rock concert with people pushing against the stage and asking for Miller’s autograph, he held his eight-year-old daughter Julia’s hand while doing a live radio interview for CBC.
After finishing a Town Crier interview on election night and just before being ushered off to speak live on TV, Miller turned to his wife Jill Arthur and said, “Are the kids okay?”
Miller was quoted saying that the toughest question he faced during this 10-month campaign was from his daughter asking what time he’d be home.
The new mayor will have many late night nights and early mornings ahead and challenges none greater than fulfilling his election promise to stop the fixed link to the Toronto Island. 
Speaking to David Collenette, federal transport minister, about withdrawing his support was one of Miller’s first priorities, he said on Nov .10. Continue reading

Toronto unions reject city’s latest offer

CUPE outraged Miller chose to negotiate a strike deal in public
Unions present counterproposal to city in private

By Kris Scheuer
The city’s striking unions are keeping their cards close to their chests by not revealing the counter-offer they will be presenting a response to Mayor David Miller’s latest offer tonight
Miller made the city’s offer public at a press conference held earlier today, click here for that story
Mark Ferguson, president of local 416, told the
Town Crier he is not impressed with the city’s strategy of bargaining in public. 
“The long and the short of it is we are disgusted the city would result to this strategy instead of bargaining (in private),” Ferguson said July 10. “The strategy was ill advised.” 
Union locals 416 and 79, on strike since June 22, represent city workers employed in various municipal departments, including garbage collection and parks and recreation. 
He said the unions have reviewed the city’s latest offer of wage increases of one percent this year, followed by one percent next year, two percent in 2011 and three percent in 2012. 
“We are disappointed the city’s wage (offer) is wholly inadequate,” Ferguson said. 
A more reasonable offer is pay hikes of three percent or more yearly, which is more in line with what other unions have received from the city, he added. 
“We don’t believe our members are second class citizens,” he said.
Continue reading