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Budget grows deficit in services, hurts needy most, says CUPE Local 79 President

TORONTO — Tim Maguire, President of CUPE Local 79, Toronto Inside Workers, criticized the City’s proposed operating budget for leaving tens of thousands waiting for childcare, recreation programs, and shelters, and called on City Council to close the gap, starting with recreation.

“This budget makes the wrong choice,” said Maguire. “We are one of the fastest growing cities in the Western world yet the services we need to provide to youth at risk and our most vulnerable citizens are being whittled away.”

Maguire pointed to three areas where flat-lined budgets don’t match service needs:

  • Recreation – Budget reductions ignore program waiting lists are tens of thousands long, and growing by three percent each year.
  • Childcare – Over 22,000 children and their families are waiting for subsidized spaces – and the outlook for 2014, when provincial subsidies are set to end, is much worse.
  • Shelters – Thousands of people in Toronto are still homeless, and flat-lining the budget for shelters means there will be less beds and meals available to keep them safe and healthy.

“Last year there were deep service cuts. This year the administration is proposing flat lined budgets that maintain and expand those cuts,” stated Maguire, “meanwhile the city is growing rapidly and so is our social infrastructure deficit.”

Maguire highlighted the proposed cuts to recreation, where up to $6 million has been taken out of camp programs, community centre supervision and other unspecified staffing to bring this year’s proposed Parks Forestry and Recreation budget to $400,000 below its 2012 level.

“Council unanimously passed a recreation service plan to provide greater access to recreation programs on November 29, especially to at-risk youth and seniors,” noted Maguire. “On the same day, they presented a budget that does the exact opposite. It’s a slap in the face for all of the community groups and youth groups who supported the plan.”

CUPE Local 79, along with many youth advocates and community groups, is urging Councillors to re-allocate the $3 to 6 million in proposed cuts to:

  • Reinstate free adult programs at “Priority Centres” in low-income communities;
  • Increase supervised spaces for youth before and after school, and in the evening;
  • Increase summer camps in the areas with the longest waiting lists.

CUPE Local 79 represents about 20,000 City of Toronto employees working in all City divisions, including public health, city inspectors, homeless hostels, transportation, childcare centres, offices, recreation programs, and long term care homes.

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For further information, contact: Tor Sandberg at 416-655-8338 or Katrina Miller at 647-272-5024.

 

 

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