GFL and Ford’s trashy rhetoric

Posted on August 9th, 2012 4 great comments. Room for one more!

You could almost see the Bush-style “Mission Accomplished” banner waving behind the incomprehensibly obstinate Ford supporters at City Hall. “We did it!”, they scream, “we got a major campaign promise under our belt!”

Except that, at very best, at this point it’s only half true:

The City must put in place solutions to make waste collection reliable and affordable.  Etobicoke, for example, uses contracted providers and saves the city $2 million each year.  By adopting the same approach for the whole city, taxpayers will save about $20 million each year and can have the confidence their garbage collectors won’t go on unnecessary strikes.

Everything west of Yonge constitutes precisely half the city (both geographically and in the estimated savings), not the whole, so claiming 100% victory is like saying that Ford won the election with a majority of votes (in reality 47%)

What makes this “victory” especially laughable is that it was supposed to demonstrate the “efficiencies” and remarkable resilience that the private sector musters over city employees (the kind of statement repeatedly used in Ford’s campaign literature):

Garbage and other solid wastes must be collected on schedule, without fail.  The strike during the summer of 2009 put the health of people and families in Toronto at risk.

The City must put in place solutions to make waste collection reliable and affordable.

Now that Rob Ford’s buddies at GFL have taken over garbage collection, what we’re seeing is the exact opposite of what Ford claimed:

Three days after a private company began collecting garbage between Yonge St. and the Humber River, its chief executive clashed with Mayor Rob Ford’s administration and the city’s waste chief over how long it should be forgiven for missing pickup deadlines.

It will take four to six weeks for Green for Life Environmental Corp. to start meeting the 6 p.m. daily deadline in its seven-year contract, said CEO Patrick Dovigi.

Six weeks is unacceptable, responded solid waste general manager Jim Harnum. The city will consider imposing financial penalties after four.

Funny that Dovigi should be saying this considering how much “research” he claims his company has invested in — 20 people for 10 weeks, to be precise — to ensure that it would be providing the most efficient services:

GFL submitted the lowest bid in Toronto’s tendering process, a testament to the company’s proven record as an efficient operator, its cost efficiencies realized from its existing Toronto infrastructure of three facilities and the efforts of its dedicated workforce.

“While some have questioned how GFL can deliver $78 million in savings to Toronto while providing residents with waste collection service as good as or better than they currently have, the fact is that we carried out extensive research prior to submitting our bid,” said Patrick Dovigi, President and CEO of GFL Environmental.

“The research we conducted prior to submitting our tender offer included analyzing the process of how the City collects waste, right down to observing the routes and operations that trucks use when on the streets,” said Dovigi. “The cost savings GFL has identified and efficiencies we bring to waste collection will result in service levels as good as or better than what people currently enjoy, at a lower cost to the City of Toronto.”

It’s not that people weren’t calling bullshit on this. In fact, questions were raised years ago, and another GFL “too good to be true” bid was rejected elsewhere in Ontario (after which GFL took out a full-page newspaper ad to express their disgust at being questioned by city council). Note how drastically even the estimated “savings” has jumped around; Ford initially claimed $20 million, then revised it to $8 million, while Dovigi puffed it up to $78 million. Today it sits somewhere around $11 million.

But none of this kept people like Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong from jumping the gun and announcing GFL had won the bidding process before anything was official. Yeah, that’s the same guy now expressing surprise at what he himself enthusiastically rammed through City Hall:

…Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the public works committee chair and Ford’s point man on the garbage file, said he did not expect delays of such length.

“We didn’t hear any of these reasons and any of the excuses — all these things that occurred this week were not presented by GFL. They didn’t tell us that these delays would be occurring,” Minnan-Wong. “So I think the public is being very generous and understanding with a company coming in with new routes, and we all want them to succeed, but the patience and goodwill of the residents in District 2 is not limitless.”

It also didn’t stop people like GFL’s Dovigi conveniently ignoring his own crap about using a “dedicated workforce”:

In 2009, the Ontario Labour Relations Board presided over a case involving GFL subsidiary National Waste Services. After winning a contract to haul residential waste in Hamilton, the firm relied on a personnel agency to provide staff instead of hiring drivers and haulers directly. The practice came to light during a certification drive by the Canadian Auto Workers; the OLRB ruled in favour of the CAW.

And after all this, it’s not simply that GFL is running late in picking up garbage, it’s actually missing chunks of the city altogether. “Inefficiency” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Beyond even this, all of Ford’s angry tirades about the unions failed to mention that Dovigi is CEO for the Ontario Waste Management Association which acts as both a powerful government lobby as well as a sort of union for collectivizing the efforts of private, for-profit waste management companies in Ontario:

All levels of government recognize the OWMA as the ‘voice’ of the private sector waste industry in Ontario. We monitor and assess regulatory and policy initiatives to determine their impact on the industry and on your business. We provide members with advance notice of new or changing government initiatives, and work proactively to ensure that such initiatives are justified, simple, and practical to implement.


4 Comments on “ GFL and Ford’s trashy rhetoric ”

  • Sam
    August 18th, 2012 11:23 am

    At the end of the day all we have here are employees making a living wage to employees making below that with no benefits and an employer working them to the ground for his profit margin.

    This GFL will have to add more trucks and personnel to meet its contractual obligations and this is going to take from their bottom line as their original bid was quite unrealistic to begin with.

    If the people of Toronto are wise they will get out and vote in the next municipal election and eject this mayor and hopefully replace as many as possible from city council before this goes too far and Toronto loses control of her services.
    The small savings by tendering out services will come back to haunt Toronto in the coming years, and costs will soar far above what it was costing with in house staff.

    Read more from Sam at:
  • Patrick
    August 29th, 2012 11:59 pm

    Hopefully we won’t need to wait until the next election. September 5th looms — the date of Ford’s court hearing.

  • Gordon
    September 5th, 2012 9:21 am

    Hey, Patrick.

    I could find any other of getting your attention.
    This has nothing to do with this current thread.
    I’m Ronald Loeman’s brother.
    May we communicate privately?

    Read more from Gordon at:
  • Gordon
    September 5th, 2012 10:26 am

    Hey, Patrick.
    I could find any other of getting your attention.
    This has nothing to do with this current thread.
    I’m Ronald Loeman’s brother.
    May we communicate privately?

    Read more from Gordon at:

What's on your mind?