City of Toronto as we know it
(Toronto) If the mayor and city councillors allow themselves to be manipulated by forces from Queens Park and get sucked into a short term solution to Torontos current budgetary problems, it will be the end of the city as we know it.
That blunt assessment comes from the president of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, CUPE Local 416, after a document entitled the Savings Task Force Report has now become public. The report is recommending massive privatization of public services.
Brian Cochrane, whose union represents some 10,000 City workers including outside workers, library workers and Paramedics says, this report was completed before the November 13 election, but it was buried because the politicians knew citizens would be appalled at its contents.
We remain hopeful that the mayor and the overwhelming majority of councillors will see fit to distance themselves from the report, and instead choose to maintain and strengthen the network of public services that Toronto residents have come to depend upon.
The mayor is quite right when he points the finger of blame at the provinces forced amalgamation, followed by the downloading of huge and costly new responsibilities onto the City, says Cochrane.
Mayor Lastman and the new city council were elected to protect the public services that make Toronto a great place to live and work. This council is at a crossroadsit can use its leverage to get the legislative rights it deserves - or it can look for the quick fix to save some political hides. The choice is theirs, says the Local 416 president.
Says Cochrane, the leaked document appears to have its roots, at least in part, at City CEO Michael Garretts office. For a city that wants to find efficiencies and cost-savings, there hasnt even been meaningful dialogue with its own employees. If the city is serious about saving money, then they should take a hard look at eliminating the hundreds of private contractors who already do city work. They should be using City workers to do the work, says Cochrane.
What people need to realize is that we already have a reduced workforce, where front line workers are being asked to do more and more. The only way they can generate savings of the magnitude they are describing is to cut services across the board, he says.
Says Cochrane, If the city decides to proceed down this path, they will have a major battle on their hands. We are not prepared to let the quality of life in this city be sacrificed. And, make no mistake about it, we are not ashamed to be fighting for decent-paying, stable jobs for our members and for the working people of Toronto.
Toronto Civic Employees Union
CUPE Local 416
(416) 968-7721 (o)
(416) 271-6538 (Cell)
CUPE Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)