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Keep Transit Public

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, the sleeping right wing Government of Ontario has awakened with an immense push on the privatization of public transit across the province. Hiding behind the mask of massive transit infrastructure investments, this Government has unleashed a barrage of Public-Private-Partnerships (P3s), allowing big business to develop and run new public transit systems for a substantial profit.  This is a lucrative scheme that will fill the pockets of multinational corporations and leave our members and the ATU behind with precarious work, low wages, and fewer union jobs as they attempt to contract out operations and maintenance to non-union workers.


City of Hamilton

This is exactly what may happen in the City of Hamilton as plans move forward for an LRT line to be built in 2024.  ATU Canada will not sit idle to watch this unfold – hence we have relaunched our Keep Transit Public campaign in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Region in late July. 

A coalition of like-minded community groups teamed up with our Local 107-Hamilton, ON, to raise awareness in the media and community, encourage the masses to sign a petition and urge City Council to vote against privatization – to keep transit operations and maintenance locally run by the Hamilton Street Rail (HSR). 

From Toronto to Hamilton, Niagara Falls, Mississauga, and Brampton – citizens have witnessed far too many broken promises, failed delivery dates, and several service issues.  Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT is best described as a fiasco given that it’s been in construction for over 12 years with no end in sight, billions of dollars in cost overruns that taxpayers will have to bear for many years to come – and there is no accountability for the private consortium building the line. 


Transit Horror Story

Another horror story that continues to make news headlines is Ottawa’s colossal LRT debacle, where delivery delays were a minor issue compared with two derailments in a six-week period, trains that don’t work in cold weather, and a long list of serious safety issues including a lack of testing before the line opened, failing train parts and track issues. The line has been shut down numerous times, and most recently on July 17, 2023, it was abruptly closed again until further notice – with no firm date on when service will resume. 

The LRT experiences of Toronto and Ottawa alone demonstrate how bad things can get when private corporations are responsible for delivering a vital service like public transit. The Province and its Agency should not be allowed to run and maintain our public transit systems.  Adding insult to injury governments are suggesting that new development and expansion of public transit does not fall under the purview of work normally performed by the bargaining units within the ATU. “LRT expansion is chipping away at our work – wasting billions of dollars and potentially leaving our members without work,” says ATU Canada President John Di Nino. 


Common Vision

The Keep Transit Public campaign is a necessary action that brings ATU Locals across Canada together alongside grassroots organizations with a common vision and goal to apply political pressure with consistent messaging. Engaging transit riders as well as education and lobbying will add additional pressure on political decision makers to not sell off public transit, keep development and workforce resources within the public domain, and ultimately not put “profit before people.”  

Our Union remains steadfast and committed to fighting this attack on our members and riders by Keeping Transit Public!