Toronto’s mayor presented a false choice to a room full of bankers and business executives yesterday to try to limit the public fall-out over his plan to break his promise to voters and sell-off Toronto Hydro, says Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.

“The Mayor wants voters to believe that we must choose between the sell-off of our most valuable public asset or an increase in residential property taxes, to pay for required upgrades to the city’s electrical system,” says Hahn. “The truth is there are other options as many Councillors and community groups have pointed out. It seems like he is trying to scare voters into supporting a privatization plan that will only benefit the people that were in that room.”

The vast majority of Torontonians are opposed to the privatization of Toronto Hydro that currently generates $60 million a year in revenue for the City. To put things into perspective, a one percent increase in property tax would generate approximately $25 million in revenue. The short-term financial gain of the sell-off would be quickly eaten away and the loss of ongoing Toronto Hydro revenue will hurt the City in the long-term. 

“The reality is, we heard the same lines coming from our Premier before she began the sell-off our provincial system and we know what a disaster that has proven to be,” says Hahn. “The people of Toronto are not dumb – we know it is not good policy to burn the furniture to heat the house.”

After yesterday’s speech by the Mayor, the Keep Hydro Public Coalition plans to ramp up its campaign efforts to protect the people of Toronto from a privatization plan that will have long-term devastating effects on the city.

“People should not be fooled by the pitch to sell only partial shares in Toronto Hydro. Once that door is open there will always be pressure to sell-off more and it will be a lot harder to stop once the people of Toronto no longer own it in its entirety,” says Hahn. “My hope is that the Mayor was doing nothing more than musing about the potential sale and that he will see the light and decide to listen to his voters rather than the business executives that would benefit from the sale.”

CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 260,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.