Is the TTC really an essential service?

The state of the TTC is under scrutiny yet again, this time due to a private member’s bill, submitted Jan. 22 by Liberal MPP David Caplan.

The bill would make the TTC an essential service and make future strikes illegal, preventing TTC workers from walking off their job as they did in 2008.

City council debated this issue two years ago. In October 2008, councillors decided by a vote of 23–22 not to ask the province to change the TTC’s status.

Critics of the new proposal say the city already has essential services that are unable to strike, such as police and fire services, and any contract disagreements are sent to negotiation. This process results in more salary hikes than if the contracts had been negotiated freely between the two parties, said Bas Balkissoon, MPP for the Scarborough- Rouge River.

“It’s not convenient. We must make mass transit a priority for Scarborough to discourage people from getting in their cars,” Balkissoon said.

Improvement of the current transit system should happen before making any more changes, Balkissoon said.

Wayne Arthurs, MPP for the Pickering-Scarborough East, is against the TTC becoming an essential service.

“Public transit is certainly a matter of convenience and it has an economic impact, but it doesn’t involve people’s safety,” Arthurs said.

Arthurs said we need to consider the long term costs.

“Some people are promising everything for free,” said Ward 38 councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a former TTC commissioner.

“I don’t support it and I think it’s very ironic that some people say ‘I want to save you money’ with one breath, and then say ‘I want to make the TTC an essential service which will cost you more money’ with the second breath,” De Baeremaeker said. “And that means the third breath is ‘I’m going to raise your taxes more.’”

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker’s thoughts on the TTC as an essential service.


The proposal will benefit people who use the TTC to get around quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively, De Baeremaeker said.

“People who live in condos out by the Sky Dome can walk to work if they have to during a strike,” De Baeremaeker said. “But if you live up in Malvern, Jane and Finch, or North Etobicoke, for example, you can’t walk to work. It would take you two days.”