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Backbencher pushes to make TTC essential service

By The Canadian Press

A Liberal backbencher wants the Toronto Transit Commission to be designated an essential service.

Former health minister David Caplan says people are fed up with a perceived declined in a service that’s needed to keep the city running.

He’s introducing a bill that would prevent a strike or a lockout at the transit commission and lays out an arbitration process in cases where bargaining breaks down.

Mr. Caplan says he doesn’t buy arguments from Toronto’s mayor and most city councillors that such a move would translate into expensive arbitrations.

In the past, he notes, labour disputes have led to work stoppages and emergency sittings of the legislature that ended in negotiated arbitration anyway.

While a private member’s bill rarely becomes law, Mr. Caplan notes ideas in the bills are often adopted by the government.

He hopes that if even if the bill isn’t passed, some of its recommendations will be incorporated into other regulations.

Toronto’s transit system has recently been the focus of consumer backlash amid ongoing fare hikes, service interruptions and photos of what appear to be sleeping ticket attendants.