10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Dear Mayor Tory,
Re: EX7.1 Implementing Tenants First – A New Seniors Housing Corporation and Proposed Changes to Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s Governance.
As the union for workers at Toronto Community Housing, CUPE Local 79 agrees that more needs to be done for Toronto’s seniors, especially those living in Toronto Community Housing. Twenty-five percent of Toronto Community Housing residents are seniors. The integrated service model for seniors has a lot to recommend, including that staff be given more time to spend with tenants and build relationships, which we wholeheartedly agree with.
That said, years of underfunding and instability has negatively impacted the seniors living in TCHC and those who are waiting for affordable City housing. Local 79 supports the intent behind many of the recommendations in the report, but we know that without adequate funding, these plans will not work. We call on the City to act now to adequately fund TCHC and allow seniors living in City housing to live in dignity.
CUPE Local 79 is greatly concerned about the recommendation to create a new seniors housing corporation in Toronto. There has been a lack of accountability at Toronto Community Housing and this will not be solved by the creation of a new corporate entity. The only way for a seniors housing provider in Toronto to be fully accountable to the City is by making the new entity a division within the City of Toronto. As a division of the City, Council and the City Manager will have a direct relationship to this key housing provider. A City division can more easily partner with other City divisions to ensure seamless service delivery without creating unnecessary overlap. The goals of the integrated service model for seniors would be more easily met.
Staff advise that by creating a separate corporate entity, the City will mitigate risk. We do not agree. While the City may avoid accountability by creating a new corporation, the risk will be passed on to the seniors that our members work with every day. TCHC’s problems are so significant and the potential impact on seniors’ lives is so great, that there is no justification for taking a similar risk with a new seniors housing entity.
When Tenants First was first introduced in EX26.2 in 2017, the report from the Deputy City Manager included information on human resources and labour. “Staff recognize the service and commitment of TCHC staff in providing housing services to tenants, including seniors. The principles guiding any organizational changes must recognize the rights of all employees, including applicable successor rights. Staff recognize the value of ensuring continuity of staff associated with the seniors portfolio and TCHC.” Our members are comforted to know that whichever direction the City decides to move in, workers will continue to be represented by their union.
Local 79 has experience with the integration of Housing Connections into the Shelter, Support & Housing Administration, and we would be an active partner in creating a new seniors housing entity as a stand-alone City division or as part of an appropriate existing division (such as SSHA or Seniors Services and Long-Term Care.
We respectfully request that the Executive Committee puts seniors first in considering this item and moves to bring seniors housing into a City division. We look forward to continuing a conversation with the City about how we can best serve seniors and all residents in Toronto Community Housing going forward.