TORONTO Following a two-hour demonstration this morning, 70 social housing workers took their street protest indoors, to a meeting of the members of the board of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC).
The workers, members of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, Local 416 CUPE, were protesting against the TCHCs new restructuring plan, which the union says erodes social housing and abolishes the jobs of front-line workers.
It is quite clear that social housing in Toronto is being restructured so that it can be privatized, says Pat Milana, a front-line housing employee and the unit chair for the housing division of Local 416. We have more homeless people than ever before who need this kind of housing. We have more families living at the poverty line. Toronto needs to invest in social housing instead of handing money over to people looking to make a profit.
The union says that the restructuring plan increases the number of TCHC managers while it eliminates front-line positions. We need more front-line workers and fewer managers, says Milana. It is the front-line workers who help people in social housing buildings senior citizens, children, and other vulnerable people. The front-line workers are proud of the work they do and many of them have been doing it for years.
The workers sat and listened to the debate at the TCHC board meeting before asking to make a statement. The board voted to allow one worker to make a five-minute deputation. I told them that we have serious concerns with the restructuring and five minutes was not enough time for us to make a deputation, says Milana. The board suggested that we meet with the human resources committee. While we are prepared to do that, the TCHC board needs to know that we are not going to disappear and we are not going to allow our jobs to disappear.
If they truly want to save a great deal of money, they can drop the idea of hiring more managers, they can stop hiring high-priced outside consultants and independent contractors, and they can work with the union to find savings that make sense, says Brian Cochrane, the president of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, Local 416 CUPE. Our municipal taxes should not be used for private profits. We need the city to renew its commitment to social housing for people who need it.
For more information, please contact:
Brian Cochrane, CUPE Local 416 President, (416) 968-7721
Shannon McManus, CUPE Communications, 416-292-3999, ext. 222