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Letter to the Economic Development Committee: KPMG Core Service Review – Employment and Social Services

This letter was delivered by First Vice-President Tim Maguire on behalf of CUPE Local 79 President Ann Dembinski.

July 14, 2011

Councillor Michael Thompson, Chair
And Members, Economic Development Committee
100 Queen Street West
10th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 2N2

Dear Councillor Thompson,

And Members of the Economic Development Committee,

Re: Item # ED6.1 Core Service Review

On behalf of Local 79, I wish to comment on the options put forward for consideration by KPMG in the City of Toronto Core Service Review – Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS).

First, I would like to read you the following from the City’s own website:

At Employment and Social Services our vision is to strengthen the social and economic well-being of Torontonians in their communities. This includes working in and with our communities, advocating for policies and programs that directly support these communities, and partnering with agencies, employers and other orders of government to build the best services in Toronto.

Every day we meet residents who need our help, whether it is to find a job, financial help, or help with connecting to social supports such as child care. We provide a wide range of supports and services to meet the diverse and multifaceted needs of Toronto’s unemployed and underemployed.

Please take a moment to consider this: strengthening the social and economic well-being of Torontonians in their communities; community support and advocacy work; the desire to build the best services possible for fragile people who need a bit of help; the financial help for those who may find themselves unable to get by; the outreach to the diversity that is Toronto.

I am extremely concerned that the options from the KPMG report, if adopted, will severely limit that much-needed help and support which Toronto residents, especially vulnerable, low-income seniors, and children from families facing financial hardship, rely on.

The quality of life for these Torontonians will only be diminished if they are no longer able to access medically necessary supplies, including dentures and assistive devices (such as wheelchairs), glasses, and other basic things that they may find themselves unable to afford. The KPMG report acknowledges that “Low income families, elderly and disabled persons may be negatively impacted resulting in potentially serious health and medical issues”.

For more than 50 years, the Christmas Bureau has partnered with Toronto Fire Services, CHUM Christmas Wish and the Toronto Star to ensure that the generous gifts and donations from corporations and individuals are distributed each year to thousands of children and families. This goes a long way to help make a holiday season special for the children of families in receipt of social assistance.

These programs are what help make Toronto a world class, liveable city, not only for low-income families, but for the thousands of newcomers who arrive every year hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Toronto is frequently applauded, on an international level, for the success with which the city accepts and helps immigrants to settle. Make no mistake about the crucial role that these programs play in all of that achievement! If these programs and services, which KPMG are recommending, were in fact cut or modified, it will have an extremely negative effect on the social and financial well being of a significant portion of this city’s population.

Toronto is a great place to live, but only if one has a roof over one’s head, food on the table, money to provide basic essentials, access to health care and medical essentials, and the dignity that goes with all of the above!

The programs and services provided by Toronto Employment and Social Services offer compassionate, supportive, and, much needed help to close to one quarter of a million people every year!

I am urging you not to abandon the Torontonians who need your help the most!

 

Yours truly,

 

Ann Dembinski
President

 

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