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January 2014 President's Report

Dear Local 79 Sisters and Brothers:

First of all, I would like to wish you and your families a happy and healthy New Year. I’m really looking forward to working together to face any challenges we may face in 2014!

I want to thank members for your extraordinary efforts displayed as you helped “Take Care of Toronto” during the ice storm. Your commitment to providing services, no matter what challenges the adverse weather conditions brought, made all the difference. Local 79 members make us so proud every day of every year, but especially under the extraordinary circumstances you faced during the unprecedented 2013 ice storm! (Please read my entire message to our members on the Local 79 website.)

Last month’s ice storm is a wake-up call on how valuable city services are, and how after years of cuts it’s time for the City to invest more in programs which can benefit the city’s children, youth and newcomers.

The City Budget is the most important issue for Local 79 after bargaining. When the Budget was launched in November, it looked like we were facing a status quo budget with a few enhancements. We have been tracking the Budget process over the past months and have kept you informed through our Budget webinars and emails. Local 79 has been closely monitoring the number of vacant positions, at 2,500 in 2013. While the 2014 City Budget seems to be committed to filling these positions, it is yet to be seen whether the 2014 City Budget will put the needed resources in place. It now appears that many of the additional budget investments recommended by City staff, and other investments advocated by some Councillors, will be taken away before the budget is adopted by Council at the end of the month.

A number of the budget investments for children and youth were voted down at the final Budget wrap-up session. The enhancements for parks and recreation were either watered down or rejected altogether. The budget for 10 new youth spaces in recreation centres was cut in half and the high quality model of service delivery that was recommended was tossed out. The Budget Committee voted down the expansion of 16 new After-School Recreation and Care (ARC) Programs for children aged 6 – 12 years. 

Thank you to all Local 79 members who completed the Members Survey. We gathered valuable information about how staffing levels are affecting service levels and working conditions. Responses confirmed what we have repeatedly told Council: widespread decreases in staffing have negatively impacted our work. Fewer services are being offered (54%), services take longer now than they did four years ago (60%), and the quality of services we provide for Toronto’s communities has deteriorated. No wonder nearly 80% of you say your job is more difficult and you feel more stress. Local 79 members agree that: community needs should determine budget levels (94%); investing in programs is more important than cutting costs (90%); and Council’s focus should be on getting services to those who need them most (92%). This dedication to Toronto’s communities is exactly how Local 79 is “Taking Care of Toronto.”

On January 1, 2014, I began a three year term on the OMERS Pension Plan Sponsors Corporation Board (SC) as one of seven pension plan member representatives. The SC also has seven employer representatives. Legislation, proclaimed in 2006, established this independent dual governance model for OMERS giving employees and employers control over the pension plan. I will work with CUPE and other Labour representatives to ensure that the pension plan for all our members is safeguarded, secure, and able to meet its obligations. You will be provided with regular updates.

Congratulations! The United Way Toronto campaign with City of Toronto employees exceeded their fundraising goal of $1,100,000 for the 13th year in a row, by raising a total of $1,320,000. Participation was up by three per cent and as I stated in my capacity as Co-Patron of the campaign, in a joint press release with the City, “This campaign had as a goal to demonstrate that municipal workers participate in, and care about, their community. They have achieved that goal.”

Several occasions present themselves next month to celebrate our rich cultural diversity. A number of communities will be celebrating Black History Month, and Lunar New Year, and February 15th is National Flag of Canada Day. Local 79 is proud to have a membership that so well reflects the rich diversity of the City of Toronto. We extend our best wishes to all our members and their families and hope they enjoy the many events connected to these festivities. (For additional information please see the Local 79 website.)

Lastly, members are reminded that union dues are tax deductible. The Local 79 office receives numerous inquiries regarding this issue and wants to ensure that all our members claim this deduction when they complete their 2013 income tax return.

In Solidarity,

Tim Maguire
President

 

 

 

 

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Shall replenish. Tree doesn’t face. There which creepeth multiply fish unto of Seed. Behold made two Rule divided. Fruit form.

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