Toronto District School Board employees drink, smooch on the job, hand taxpayers inflated bills

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

There is a term involving performing unnatural carnal congress with a dog that's slang for slacking off on the job.

It appears some Toronto District School Board workers have refined the practice to high art.

A Toronto Star investigation has turned up school board construction and maintenance workers enjoying long, languid mornings drinking coffee at Tim's, indulging in something stronger at a local pub and even necking in a car.

This on the taxpayer's dime, apparently.

School board officials discovered the practice and have fired eight workers over the last six months but it's not known if the wages they fraudulently collected will be recovered, the Star said.

The incidents were revealed during a Star investigation of wasteful spending related to an exclusive contract between the school district and the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council.

The newspaper turned up appalling examples of heavily padded bills, such as $143 to install a pencil sharpener and almost $3,000 for an electrical outlet on a school library wall. In latter case, the job took four hours but the board was billed for 76 hours work.

[ Related: Photo of sleeping Niagara cop makes rounds on Facebook, Twitter ]

Board and union sources told the Star that school work orders were sometimes inflated with additional hours to account for workers who either had no jobs to do or had simply buggered off during work hours.

Top school board officials declined to be interviewed about the scandalous situation. Chief facilities officer Angelos Bacopoulos said the board does not know how widespread the problem is but is looking into it.

Union leader Jimmy Hazel told the Star his "members have a very strong work ethic." Hazel said his operation was competitive and if there was a problem with one of his workers "he wouldn't be working for very f---ing long."

Incidents like this reinforce the worst kind of stereotype about public-sector workers, most of whom are hardworking employees, as well as taxpayers. Many contacted the Star to express their outrage about the waste.

In Calgary, someone posted video on YouTube of a city worker apparently sleeping in his backhoe for an hour.

Earlier this month, a Niagara Regional Police officer was photographed fast asleep, mouth agape, in her cruiser. The photo made the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, according to the St. Catharines Standard, and the department said it is investigating.

[ More Daily Brew: Is a McGuinty/Obama relationship good for Canada? ]

A similar incident recorded in Montreal caught two officers napping at 11 a.m. who, according to Postmedia News, seemed untroubled when a passerby called them on it.

And there's the famous shot of a Toronto Transit Commission worker photographed napping in a ticket booth in 2010, which sparked huge public outrage and derision.

But that's a case of things not always being what they seem. The transit employee, who apologized, revealed he had health problems that soon afterward forced him to take medical leave. He died a few months later, the Star reported.