Union raising concerns about jobs, planned downloading of Peel services onto municipalities
Feature Image Alexis Wright/The Pointer

Union raising concerns about jobs, planned downloading of Peel services onto municipalities

CUPE Local 966 is raising concerns over the planned transfer of critical services provided by the Region of Peel down to its three individual lower-tier municipalities. A lack of clarity around the continued public ownership of those services as well as workers’ job security are being raised as key issues the union wants addressed.

The key service delivery areas at the heart of discussions regarding future control over departments currently managed by the Region of Peel are responsible for water and wastewater operations across the three municipalities, Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. 

One key concern, the possible privatization of these critical services, was previously put to rest by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“The Ministry expects that the [Transition Board responsible for recommendations about Peel’s future] will align with its new mandate. This includes ensuring any options and recommendations that are brought forward on water and wastewater continue to maintain public ownership and control,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to The Pointer, repeating what had already been made clear to the Transition Board.

Minister Paul Calandra issued a January 24 letter to the Chair of the Transition Board — which was originally assigned by the province to work out the planned dissolution of the Region of Peel — John Livey, informing him that the Transition Board will be responsible for bringing forward recommendations to the Minister on the transfer of certain services from the Region of Peel down to the three lower-tier municipalities.

These services include land use planning, water and wastewater (including stormwater), regional roads and waste management. 

“[N]ow that critical Regional services could be downloaded onto the cities, with little clarity on whether public ownership will be maintained, job security, and whether downloading services makes sense cost-wise, it looks like we’ll have to continue raising our concerns,” a CUPE media release stated, highlighting how the union had to raise the alarm over the potential loss of jobs after the original planned dissolution of Peel, and now those concerns are once again having to be raised. 

It was a lack of detail and clarity from the PC government that was behind widespread anxiety among Regional staff, hundreds of whom quit their jobs ahead of the planned date for Peel’s dissolution, January 1, 2025. A lack of job security created a push against the province’s plans, and CUPE Local 966 previously told Regional Council that dissolution could potentially impact thousands of jobs. Prior to the cancellation of the plan to dissolve regional government, it pushed council to call for more transparency from the Transition Board at the time. Now, with the possibility of shifting certain services away from Regional government, the union is once again asking for clarity on potential impacts to its members, many of whom have had their job for years.

Calandra’s letter was issued “to provide clarity about the recalibrated scope of the Transition Board’s mandate going forward,” which will “focus on making local government in Peel Region more efficient and responsive to the needs of residents and taxpayers.” He wrote this will specifically involve accelerated home building in the three municipalities to increase their housing supply, reduce duplication and remove layers of bureaucracy from services and ensure continuity for local residents. The new mandate will also focus on financial sustainability and efficient delivery of high-quality services, he wrote.

The federal government recently announced a total of $6 billion that will be included in the upcoming budget, with a large portion of the funds to be directed at municipalities that need water and wastewater infrastructure improvements to support the rapid construction of new homes to help address the ongoing housing crisis across the country. Much of the funding program will be used as an incentive-based support to reward those cities that meet or exceed new housing targets, follow responsible growth strategies that create the types of dense housing people need and ensure the construction of affordable housing, resisting NIMBY policies which will prevent municipalities from accessing the program.

The news, along with the provincial housing ministry’s assurance that privatization of water and wastewater services is not an option, should be received positively by union members in Peel who have expressed anxiety over their future. With money flowing and privatization off the table, the main question is who will they work for — the Region or one of the three lower tier municipalities? It still remains unclear how services might be divided, if they are downloaded from the upper-tier local government. The Transition Board is expected to provide direction on future service delivery models.


Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra has assured Peel employees that water and wastewater services in Peel will not be privatized.

(Government of Ontario)


In his announcement calling off the dissolution of the Region of Peel, Calandra claimed there was clear evidence that it could not be done without impacting the taxpayer, however he failed to provide that evidence or any reports to demonstrate this

He made contradictory statements, such as claiming dissolution would cause problems for frontline service delivery — the initial legislation claimed the break-up would ensure “delivery of effective frontline services... including by preserving frontline workers…”. He also claimed the cancellation would eliminate waste and duplication, even though the PCs originally claimed dissolution would be necessary to reduce wasteful duplication and prioritize value for money and delivery of high-quality services. 

Now the PCs are saying critical services will be delivered by lower-tier municipalities instead of the Region, under the justification that this transfer will improve efficiency and use of taxpayer dollars as well as to reduce duplications in service administration, among other things.

Instead of disbanding the Transition Board after the cancelled dissolution, it was kept in place to come up with options to carry out this downloading. 

The Transition Board will now have to come up with recommendations to the Minister this spring on the transfer of these services which includes ensuring the ownership of water and wastewater “continue to maintain public ownership and control,” though members of CUPE Local 966, which represents The Department Of Health Of The Regional Municipality Of Peel, is pointing to a lack of clarity on what this will mean for workers.

“‘Just looking at one of these services, let’s remember that Peel has the 2nd largest water and wastewater system in Ontario,’” Salil Arya, President of CUPE Local 966, states in the press release. “‘What, exactly, will a shakeup mean for it? Will we lose this system to a private company? What would that mean for revenue, for jobs, for the services the residents rely on?’” These questions, he stated, will be brought to the Transition Board and elected representatives. 

The Minister said in his letter that the options to shift the listed services brought to him “must ensure service continuity for residents without disruption and to address all aspects important to the successful service transfer, including labour relations, corresponding back office supports, and detailed financial analysis on any local impacts.” He also wrote that the Transition Board should make “the preservation of frontline workers” a priority. 

But previous plans to dissolve Peel also involved the expectation that it would not disrupt service continuity, yet in practice, it remained unclear how the Province would achieve this, especially given the short timeline that had been given to break apart what is the second largest municipality in Ontario. Now, many of the same questions are being raised about what downloading will look like and who will be impacted.

“They don't know about their future, what's going to happen,” Arya told The Pointer. CUPE Local 966 represents 3,500 members in the Region and roughly 318 members at Public Works in Peel.

Arya said the current situation feels the same for workers during the planned dissolution, where the union is still advocating for transparency and is still not getting answers from the province. “Even if we go and lobby the ministers, we are not getting any answers from any one of them,” he said. The recommendations are “all up to the Transition Board…”. 


President of CUPE Local 966, Salil Arya (pictured second from the right) says workers are facing uncertainty about their jobs now that the province is looking to download certain services provided by the Region of Peel onto its lower-tier municipalities.



He said even a single department that could be shifted onto local municipalities could have over a hundred union members. “Those hundred members have been working for the Region for a very long time,” he said, saying there has been “no word, neither from the counselors, not from the Minister or not from this government, that they will all have their jobs, they will carry on with their pensions, they will carry on with their paychecks.”

“There [has] been no word about that. Everybody is so tight-lipped.”

It is taxpayers who are paying for the Transition Board and whatever recommendations it brings forward should be accessible to the public rather than the decision lying solely with the Minister, he said. Calandra stated in his letter that the Transition Board is responsible for delivering its recommendations by Spring 2024 for his consideration.

“Those recommendations must be made public,” Arya said. “After spending so much money, those recommendations cannot be secret recommendations only for the Minister to look at it and make a final decision.”

The voices of workers, he said, need to be meaningfully heard. “We all think, in this political game, we should not pay the price,” he said. “Our workers should not pay the price. They deserve respect and they should be kept first.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @_hafsaahmed

At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories to ensure every resident of Brampton, Mississauga and Niagara has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you

Submit a correction about this story