A new community-labour coalition called the Toronto Civic Action Network (Toronto CAN) says the City of Toronto will quickly deteriorate if city councillors privatize services and eliminate programs.
If we want a run-down city, this is the way to go, says John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. People have always been impressed by Torontos cleanliness, parks, transit, and community services. These are the things that made this city great. Now they are all in danger.
Many of Torontos city councillors are examining city services and programs with an eye to contracting them out or eliminating them, as the city begins its budget process.
Privatization is not the answer. It costs taxpayers more hydro deregulation is evidence of that, says Cartwright. If city council abdicates its responsibility for services and programs by turning them over to for-profit companies, there is no way service levels will be maintained.
The city budget needs to reflect the serious needs of the citizens of Toronto, especially those that are marginalized because they are poor or because of their race, their age or their gender, says Tanya Gulliver, a social justice worker. Community services need to be enhanced to protect the most vulnerable, not slashed to protect the bottom line.
The coalition is raising concerns that council will proceed with cutbacks without properly consulting local residents. Its time to add a little democracy into the running of the citys business, says Peter Clutterbuck, a volunteer with Community Voices of Support. The public should have a say when it comes to big changes in services the city provides.
The coalition is calling on the federal government and the province to give more support to Toronto. Downloading is a bad word in the community, says Tam Goossen, the president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Nobody is taking charge. We need a strong Toronto to address issues in our diverse community, such as housing and youth unemployment.
We need our city councillors and the public to demand more funding from the province and the federal government and we need them to do it now, says Cartwright. This is a city that says it cares about its young people, but cannot find the money to keep its swimming pools open. The quality of life in Toronto has always been a key asset for this city.
Toronto CAN was recently created when two groups, Stand Up For Toronto and Save Our City, united. The coalition will lobby city councillors, asking community groups and members of the public to sign on to the Toronto CAN campaign.