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Morning Brew: TTC wants to be an essential service too, Transit City would help reverse shrinking middle, biodiesel plant coming to the Port Lands, police dump UFC fighter, and the 25 "mayors of Toronto"

Posted by Brianne Hogan / December 16, 2010

Toronto News SnowLooks like the new TTC board beat Rob Ford to the punch as they declared they want to be an essential service too. In an unexpected vote, the new TTC board has endorsed removing transit workers' right to strike, even though studies show arbitrated contracts could cost the TTC more in wages because the 10,000 unionized TTC workers could still work to rule, warned Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. If the city wants to put transit workers in the same category as life-saving professions such as firefighters, police and paramedics, it should be prepared to pay similar salaries and benefits, he said. Adding: "We do not believe the removal of our service jeopardizes public safety to that degree." Clearly he works from home and has never been stranded by public transit.

University of Toronto professor, David Hulchanksi, who authored a report that argues Toronto's middle class is shrinking, also theorizes what would help the disparity: Transit City. Expanding access to transit is among the key ingredients in slowing or reversing the "segregation'' of the city by income, Hulchanski argues in his report. "There's a significant shortage of accessibility to transit. That's why I've been a fan of the Transit City plan from the start. Linking many parts of (low-income) neighbourhoods and the northern part of the city not served by subways is just wonderful,'' he said in an interview. "It's crucial for us to be one city," he said, adding he hopes to meet with Ford or his staff to discuss the issue.

A biodiesel plant is planned to open in the city's port land district in the hopes of feeding Canada's growing fuel markets, as well as people and animals. Energy Innovation Corp. announced a new facility Tuesday that will use flaxseeds to make biodiesel, which can cleanly power cars, trucks, and trains. 40 per cent of every flaxseed can be used to make the fuel, but the Toronto plant will be able to process the other 60 per cent into another valuable commodity: high grade animal feed. They also plan to turn the flax meal into flour for people. As long as they don't get the two mixed up, it sounds flax-tastic.

In this week's EYE, the magazine analyzes the "real" mayors of Toronto, asking the question: Who really runs Toronto? They present 25 Torontonians who make stuff happen everyday -- from who can get your face on the jumbotron to who can turn your bar song into a radio hit.


Photo by jugolic in the blogTO Flickr pool.



Scissor Mister / December 16, 2010 at 08:27 am
I'd like to take a dump on Bob Kinenar's chest.
Rob / December 16, 2010 at 08:36 am
There may be an end game to this essential service strategy and that may be to break the union. The city will take away their right to strike in a pre-emptive move. And the showdown looms between the city and the ATU. Once the city manages to break them they can hire workers at a lower cost or seek a private provider.
Shannon / December 16, 2010 at 08:44 am
if TTC becomes an essential service and the cost of many things goes up, doesn't that mean the price of fare will also go up to offset the rising costs? Because we are the largest source of income for the TTC.
Julian Lowel replying to a comment from Shannon / December 16, 2010 at 09:06 am
...or the City will cover the costs. Gravy Train indeed!
skeeter / December 16, 2010 at 09:35 am
is it just me or is rob ford a moron?
Arleigh / December 16, 2010 at 09:47 am
The meaning of essential seems to have slipped from essential for public safety to essential for business, equating a human life to so many dollars of lost revenue.
Rob replying to a comment from Arleigh / December 16, 2010 at 09:54 am
What a short-sighted argument - you seem to lack any notion of causality. If you agree Doctors and Police are essential, how would their ability to do their jobs be affected if they are unable to respond in a timely manner due to total gridlock?
JLankford / December 16, 2010 at 10:04 am
I can't wait for my $5.00 one-way fare by 2020. (featuring no improvements, or additional lines, of course!)
KL / December 16, 2010 at 10:25 am
Bobby K insists that TTC employees should be compensated the same way fire, ambulance, and police are. Well, Bobby, 700+ of your employees made the sunshine list in 2009 and just over 1K cops did.

Sounds like you're there already, sport.
JM / December 16, 2010 at 10:31 am
I'm a bit conflicted as well, arbitration will no doubt lead to higher settlements as the Union has no real reason to seriously negotiate anymore. Yet Toronto has the 3rd highest transit usage in North America and transit strikes literally do cripple the city.

Also the definition of Essential Service must be established. Is the TTC essential 24/7? I've heard things about the Montreal Metro being essential, can anybody else confirm this?

-It's considered Essential only during the Morning/Afternoon Rush
-It only counts for the Metro (Subway) buses aren't included.

If it happens this way it could be an absolute nightmare as you'd have people pushing and shoving trying to get on that last train before 7:00pm. Not to mention people who work outside rush hours.
jildren replying to a comment from Shannon / December 16, 2010 at 10:49 am
I hate to break it to you but I don't think keeping fares at a reasonable rate is a priority for ford. Between him being unhappy that drivers are subsidizing our ride, the deeming of ttc being an essential service and huge cancellation fees I think it's safe to say that a fare increase in the next couple of years is inevitable. Besides it's incentive for us pinkos to buy cars like regular folk.
Lune / December 16, 2010 at 10:53 am
The strike costs the city $50 milliion, the essential service costs us "compensation" for TTC workers ...
It's a lose-lose situation for us, poor hard-working citizens.

It makes me mad and want to drive, even in a snow storm.
Mike W replying to a comment from Lune / December 16, 2010 at 11:19 am
That's because TTC strikes are so effective, they don't shut down production or just disrupt revenue, they take hostages.
Long Gone / December 16, 2010 at 11:22 am
Do yourself a favour and just privatize transit. It will be cheaper. Let the private business manipulate and break the unions. Watch how corporations and the justice system can get the wage for driving bus back to the legal minimum.

It is the only chance you have of affording it. TTC workers have no education and require none to drive a bus. They retire with more money than many professionals. In other words you are fools to go to school spend all that effort, time and money. Bus drivers can drop out of high school then work for thirty years and retire with more than you will ever know. It's true!

Don't listen to intellectuals. They rarely have a clue of what is really going on. Perhaps a private competing transit system would be useful. What would happen if the TTC had a competitor? Private operators could bid for your transit dollars.
hendrix replying to a comment from Rob / December 16, 2010 at 11:27 am
It's funny tho -- to Rob Ford the TTC is definitely not an essential service. Roads are an essential service.
Daniel / December 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm
in the last 30 years, there have been a total of 13 days where the TTC were on strike. this is not enough to warrent granting essential status to them.

as far as their compensation, ttc workers (drivers, collectors, etc., not head office) only make the sunshine list if they work tons of overtime. the base salary ranges from $45K to $60K per year. dont blame ttc workers for working OT while you eat brunch on saturday at 11am and complain about how poor you are.
have your cake / December 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm
Honestly, you guys are throwing so far to the left, it's retarded.

You complain about the TTC strike, yet you want them to be an Essential Service because the non-popular vote disapproves.

The truth is the TTC is not like a hospital. The show will go on without them, because they have the right to strike.

You writers are the type to stand at protests, but never sit in on a meeting in a suit with a diatribe in hand.
Rob replying to a comment from hendrix / December 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm
I concur. It is strange to think of him being a champion of making the TTC an essential service; however, when you put it in context (like I hope I have) and think "big picture" it starts to make sense.
KL replying to a comment from Daniel / December 16, 2010 at 01:08 pm
None of this matters. 700+ employees still made the sunshine list. To me, that means they have always had the opportunity to be fairly compensated, in line with "essential" services.
Greg / December 16, 2010 at 02:44 pm
David Hulchanksi is an idiot. LRT will further the distance between suburbs and the core. It's laughable all these excuses for the wondrous benefits of LRTs.

Bottom line: If I lived in the core and my first priority is the core I want LRTs because: 1) They will convert less people to transit than will subways. 2) The downtown relief line is closer to being built (financially).

Subways will delay the DRL the most and will increase core traffic the most, but if the goal is connecting suburbs to the core, bettering transit for those in low income, far off areas, and increasing environmental footprint, subways are best.
Chester Pape replying to a comment from Long Gone / December 16, 2010 at 02:58 pm
Oh yah, the whole "private sector can break the unions" idea has worked out so well in the past, simple question, who lasted longer? GM or the UAW?
Eric S. Smith replying to a comment from Greg / December 16, 2010 at 03:31 pm
"...<i>if the goal is connecting suburbs to the core, bettering transit for those in low income, far off areas</i> [...] <i>subways are best.</i>"

You might as well insist that helicopters are best.

You can't afford to build enough subways to connect all of the suburbs and the "far off areas" to the core because of heavy rail's ruinous expense per kilometre. Also, not everyone wants to get to the core in the first place: if I live at McCowan and Finch and need to get to a job at the airport, why are you sending me through Yonge and Bloor?
The Shakes / December 16, 2010 at 03:41 pm
The hypothesis that incomes are lower because transit doesn't serve an area is totally flawed. Anyone with a brain can see it's actually the other way around. When transit doesn't serve an area, rents are lower and this attracts people with lower incomes. Assuming Transit City can bring reliable transit to all the low income areas, what will happen is that the lower income habitants will eventually get priced out and have to move further out to the suburbs.
KL replying to a comment from Greg / December 16, 2010 at 03:41 pm
I agree that subways would be the best option, but it looks like its going to boil down to LRT or nothing.
toot replying to a comment from Long Gone / December 16, 2010 at 06:37 pm
Have you had the opportunity to take VIVA/YRT? How about on a Sunday night? $3.25 a zone without coverage. Yeah... That's awesome privatized transit right there.
o.k. / December 16, 2010 at 07:52 pm
Just look how much Cops and Fire eat away at the budget! Essential service is a trap, it safe guards the current administration from the folly's of strikes, but over time the costs shoot up and up and up and up.

Ford I don't man, your trying to protect his rump more-so then doing whats smart for the city. And this even shouldn't be news, is anybody surprised the Ford back board did this? its no more of a surprise if the Miller backed board was squeamish on this not to many months ago.
Jildren replying to a comment from The Shakes / December 16, 2010 at 09:54 pm
Wait a second shakes, is your argument for or against transit city? I'm hoping I'm reading it wrong because what I'm taking from your statement is that transit city is a bad idea because it would make property values go up. The reason that transit city would be great is that not only would it give people out there easier access to down here but also because it would give down here access to out there. Which would create huge opportunities for up there because business would suddenly want to invest because suddenly it's accessible. What I'm getting from your statement is 'don't build transit there because it would make the suburbs of higher value' god I hope I am wrong. Progress is good. You don't not make a place better for fear of pricing people out.

Ps I live downtown and don't make a huge amount of money. There is a lot of in-between. To say that making a place great is going to force people out further is pretty ridiculous
Jildren replying to a comment from Greg / December 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm
What you fail to realize is that there is not a population out there to justify subways. It's the reason every major city is doing LRT. Nevermind that it costs multiples per km to build a subway over LRT. The simple fact is that the sheppard line is subsidized $8 per rider. That is f'ing insane and that is what happens when you build subways in the burbs. The core has subways because we have the population to justify it (bloor yonge and university are subsidized less than a dollar per ride). Sorry but the burbs don't. In fact they did studies took lots of times involved all types of professionals conducting all types of studies and they have determined that the LRT makes the most sense. The fact that you bean bags all sit around saying well maybe robs right maybe subways are better is laughable. It wasn't miller and giambrone talking it over it was engineers consultants provincial federal and municipal. Transit city was very well thought out I don't understand why ford supporters have such a hard time excepting this
aga replying to a comment from The Shakes / December 17, 2010 at 01:09 pm
Did you even read it?
The Shakes replying to a comment from Jildren / December 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm
I'm pro any form of transit, and actually anti ford. All i'm saying is the hypothesis is flawed. Transit doesn't ultimately lift the poor out of their situation, in fact in the long run improved transit will make the few affordable areas of our city out of reach to low income earners. If we want to improve Transit that's great, if we want to improve the lot for low income earners that's great too. But understand A will not lead to B.
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