Karen Howlett with the Globe:
Ontario Labour Minister Charles Sousa said in a letter to Mr. Ford on Friday that his staff will begin consultations with Toronto Transit Commission management and union leaders as well as city staff on whether the provincial government should introduce legislation banning strikes.
Ultimately, the mayor’s push to make the TTC an essential service was motivated by two things. The first has to do with semantics: the word ‘essential’ makes this a popular move because people see it as a government acknowledging the importance of transit. The second reason is that essential service designation lets the government off the hook. Whereas past governments had to face the public and wear the outcome of labour negotiations, going forward the mayor and council will be able to shrug their shoulders and blame the province when the union gets a pay increase.
The big concern — and this won’t get anywhere near the coverage it should — is the specifics of the legislation the province will introduce. Will it declare all service offered by the TTC essential, or will only core weekday service be protected?