Skip to content

NEWS: CETA implications for the Toronto Transit Commission

The Toronto Star reports that, “Mayor Rob Ford wants to use a public-private partnership to extend the Sheppard subway west to Downsview station and as far east as the Scarborough Town Centre. The latest proposal to find a compromise transit expansion plan would leave the Metrolinx-approved $8.15 billion in provincial transit funds to build light rail underground along Eglinton Ave. to at least Kennedy Station in the east.”

“Former provincial infrastructure renewal minister David Caplan, a Liberal MPP, told the Star in January that the public-private scheme could work to build two to three kilometers of new tunnels annually. …Toronto could also use private-sector partners to develop the subway station properties, explained MPP David Caplan, former public infrastructure renewal minister. A company could buy or lease a property, build an office, a mall or condos on top of the station or develop a retail concourse in the station and operate a concession there for 25 or 30 years, said Caplan, architect of the Liberal government’s strategy for building public infrastructure with private money.”

By way of a short explanation, the Toronto Transit Commission is the public transport agency that operates bus, streetcar, and subway services in Toronto. The TTC operates the third most heavily-used urban mass transit system in North America, after the New York City Transit Authority and the Mexico City Metro.

Metrolinx (formerly known as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority) is a governmental organization that manages road transport and public transportation agencies in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton. The organization was created by the Government of Ontario in 2006 and adopted the name Metrolinx in 2007. GO Transit is also operated under the organization.

Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
1- In 2009, Paul Wells wrote in Maclean’s magazine that CETA would affect, “municipal procurement which would allow German and French manufacturers to bid on subway contracts in Toronto and Vancouver on the same basis as local manufacturers.”

2- In May 2010, the Toronto Star reported that, “Topping the agenda for the Europeans is winning a slice of the billions of dollars in contracts that all levels of government, along with crown corporations, issue each year.” The newspaper added, “That could mean big changes in how the TTC buys subway cars, Queen’s Park fosters renewable energy and even how Toronto buys equipment to upgrade the water system. Indeed, the EU’s initial ‘market access’ request cites by name Toronto transit, Metrolinx, the regional transit body, and Toronto water and emergency services as among the agencies whose contracts they want to ensure are open to European bidders.”

3- Last October, a major issue of concern emerged when Jean Charest’s government awarded a $1.2-billion contract to build 468 new subway cars to the Quebec giant Bombardier and the French railway firm Alstom without a competitive bid. The Vancouver Sun reported that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero wrote Charest “expressing his annoyance” that a Spanish firm was excluded from the bidding process. CW Media reported then that, “Armand De Mestral, who teaches international trade law at McGill University… said the province’s move threatens Canadian efforts to strike a free-trade deal with the European Union. …He said the EU has always argued that access to provincial service markets and to provincial contracts is essential to any free-trade agreement.”

4- And in December, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew and CUPE researcher Kelti Cameron wrote, “In the case of CETA, the spoils will go to large EU multinationals such as the France-based Veolia Environment and Suez, both of which have a growing Canadian presence in the delivery of public transit, energy and water services.”

5- It would be a tremendous loss if the TTC were included under the procurement chapter of CETA. The TTC is a leader in Canada for putting local preferences in its contracts, including buying subway cars manufactured in Sudbury. This creates spinoff manufacturing jobs in the Greater Toronto Area. The TTC also puts local hiring and training conditions in their bids too. Ontario excluded transit from its World Trade Organization procurement commitments and the Canada-US Agreement on Government Procurement.

Web-links are at,–city-eyes-private-partner-to-extend-sheppard-subway,, and