Make serious progress on a deal by this weekend, or settle in for a long, bitter strike.

That’s the outlook from both sides of the dispute between the City of Toronto and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who walked off the job Sunday.

Nobody has threatened yet to walk away from the table, but both sides say this weekend could be a make-or-break point.

And the risk of a prolonged strike walkout escalated yesterday when Premier Dalton McGuinty discouraged the idea of legislating an end to it.

As the walkout enters its fourth day today, the city will announce 19 new drop-off locations for residential garbage, mostly arena and parking lots in parks. In 2002, 12 locations were used, including Moss Park, York Mills Arena and North York Centennial Centre.

Hot and humid weather is forecast through the weekend and garbage is piling up, but the city’s medical officer of health says it’s not a concern yet.

“A well-managed temporary garbage site, even if it’s a large one, does not necessarily create a health hazard,” Dr. David McKeown said yesterday. “It may be unattractive and cause odours, but this will not cause human disease.

Public health managers are monitoring conditions and will issue cleanup orders if warranted.

Meanwhile, city officials say 132 striking workers, a tiny percentage of the 30,000 on strike, have applied to return to work.

CUPE spokesperson Pat Daley said, in any strike, some people will cross the picket lines.

“You still have more than 29,000 people who haven’t crossed. Our members are staying strong,” Daley said.

While talks continue, a union insider said the pace is glacial.

While an injunction could ease delays, it could sour the atmosphere at the bargaining table.

Strike leaders insisted yesterday they want to bargain a settlement.

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