Guelph municipal workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), urged council to protect public services at a special budget community presentation at city hall on Tuesday evening.
“Public services are the heart of our community – they have a major impact on people’s lives and on the health of our city,” said Brad Kelloway, president of CUPE 241. “Guelph residents rely on public services, especially in tough times.”
Dave Peshnak, the president of CUPE 973, echoed Kelloway’s views. “Cutting back on public services, when the economy is tough and when residents need public services the most, is the wrong approach to take,” said Peshnak.
Due to the economic slowdown and facing a budget shortfall for next year, the City of Guelph is proposing a list of options to balance their budget, including cuts to public services and fee increases for community and recreational programs.
“According to senior management, these cuts will have ‘minor visible impacts,” continued Kelloway. “Our members are front line staff and we know what public services mean to residents of Guelph and I can assure you that these cuts will affect the quality of life in our community. The future of our kids depends on programs that our city provides.”
CUPE 241 represents the city’s outside workers and CUPE 973 represents the inside workers of Guelph, delivering vital municipal services including snow removal, waste collection, by-law enforcement, community and environmental services, planning, water and waste water operations, parks and arena operations, economic development and many other services.
“Cutting public services is not a viable option for the city,” said Peshnak. “Our elected leaders must show what our city is made of – that we take care of our own, especially during tough times, that all Guelphites can rely on quality and reliable public services.”
In Kelloway’s presentation, he encouraged council to look deeper into other options including reducing the number of contracted out services to private contractors. “Bring contracted out services in-house and let public workers provide services to our community. The best investment for our city is to protect and enhance public services, not cut them,” said Kelloway.