The following statement is issued by Bob Kinnear, President of Toronto's transit workers' union, ATU Local 113, in response to the private member's bill introduced by MPP David Caplan to declare the TTC an "essential service" and thereby substitute binding arbitration for collective bargaining.
"Since the Liberal government assumed power over six years ago, there has been a total of 52 hours in TTC service disruptions due to job action by our union. That's an average of about one minute per day during Liberal rule. Let's compare that minute to the much greater daily delays endured by TTC riders because of the McGuinty government's unwillingness to restore provincial financial support for TTC operations that was taken away by the Conservative government of Mike Harris nearly 15 years ago.
"Every single day, TTC riders put up with service delays, mechanical breakdowns, and vehicles that are so crowded they have to leave riders stranded at bus stops for as long as 20 minutes. There are also the regular fare hikes that greatly exceed both the rate of inflation and any increase in TTC workers' wages. All these problems are the result of a provincial government that wilfully turns a blind eye to the financial stresses on public transit in Ontario's capital city. As is well-known, the TTC is the least-subsidized urban transit system in North America. That may be good for taxpayers outside of Toronto but it's bad for TTC riders.
"It is a pathetic political ploy by a former McGuinty Cabinet member to try to deflect attention away from his government's chronic negligence of environmentally-friendly public transit by attacking the legal rights of transit workers.
"I would be happy to publicly debate Mr. Caplan on which has caused TTC riders more inconvenience: the 52 hours of service disruption due to union job action during the Liberal reign, or the 52,000 hours of service cutbacks, delays, breakdowns and higher fares that can be, at least in part, attributable to lack of provincial operating funding by the McGuinty government during this same period."
Kinnear added that the union will soon be conducting a series of Town Hall meetings in Toronto at which front-line TTC workers will meet with TTC riders face-to-face to air complaints, share concerns and determine what the workers can do to improve the customer experience.
"We will commit to improving those service areas over which we have control," said Kinnear. "But we cannot take responsibility for all those areas of service problems over which we have absolutely no control. That is the responsibility of governments, including the provincial government."
NOTE: Bob Kinnear is in meetings this afternoon and will not be available for media interviews until late afternoon or early evening.
For further information: Bill Reno, (416) 223-7366