The province is the only level of government that can end the city of Toronto's strike, but even the opposition Progressive Conservatives aren't pushing for quick action.

"Well, it would have to be a caucus decision, not a leader's decision," interim party leader Bob Runciman told reporters at Queen's Park on Monday.

"We'd have to look at some yardsticks in terms of determining how dangerous the situation is, in terms of the health of residents and I think another issue we'd want to look at is the impact on the Ontario economy."

If the political will exists, a back-to-work order could be passed within 24 hours, Runciman said.

In Windsor, municipal workers have been on strike for about 10 weeks. News crews have had no trouble finding images of rats feasting on garbage. The province has not yet acted.

CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss reported that the province has mediators talking to both sides in the Toronto dispute.

In an email exchange with an official in the office of Labour Minister Peter Fonseca, "they aren't even using the phrase 'back to work legislation,'" Bliss said.

The strike began shortly after midnight when negotiations between the city, and two union locals reached a deadline without a deal in place.

Local 416 represents about 6,200 outside workers, including garbage collectors.

Local 79 represents about 18,000 inside workers.

While the union has issued some bitter statements about how the city has pushed them into a strike, the two sides are still talking. The city has framed its argument in terms of the recession affecting the city's already-strained budget.

The last strike occurred in July 2002 when Mel Lastman was mayor. In that strike, job security was an issue.

After 16 days, the province -- then governed by the Progressive Conservatives -- stepped in and legislated the striking workers back to work.

"When it becomes an issue of import to community health and safety then I believe it is incumbent upon the province to step in and take action," then-premier Ernie Eves said.

However, it took several more days for services to return to normal. The legislation, which passed in 45 minutes, allowed for the use of private contractors if the post-strike cleanup hadn't been completed within seven days.

Resolving outstanding contract issues was left to an arbitrator.

In April 2008, the Liberal provincial government, supported by the opposition, passed legislation ending a surprise two-day strike by TTC workers. The union's bargaining committee had recommended acceptance of the deal.

After some debate, the city narrowly voted in late October 2008 against making the TTC an essential service.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss