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Dembinski to Budget Committee: Budget is reckless and irresponsible

The following was delivered by Local 79 President Ann Dembinski on December 7, 2011 as a deputation to the Budget Committee Special Meeting.  Text of the deputation follows the video.

 

Dear Councillor Del Grande and Members of the Budget Committee:

RE: BU19.1 Capital and Operating Budgets – Public Consultation

At the Budget launch on Monday November 28th, it was stated that the Mayor and the Budget Committee should be commended on their courage.

The threat to end the livelihood of thousands of City workers is not courageous; in fact it is fiscally irresponsible! These workers pour much needed dollars into the local economy, support small local businesses, corner stores, and help keep Toronto a financially healthy metropolis.

How courageous is it:

  • To close three City shelters – including one that shelters older men, and two that provide a home to men and women struggling with substance abuse?
  • To downgrade child care centres in shelters? (Do infants and toddlers, who wind up in a shelter, not need child care professionals to take care of them?)
  • To shut down the Hardship Fund and the Santa Claus Fund?
  • To close child care centres when there are 20,000 Toronto children on waiting lists for a space?
  • To delete the jobs of front-line workers in long-term care?
  • To stop home visits by public health nurses to post-partum mothers at risk?
  • To eliminate priority Recreation Centres t hat provide programs for children and seniors?
  • To sideline the environment, and damage the reputation that Toronto has as one of the top ten cities in North America, according to a recent study of 27 major North American metropolises?

These cuts are only a small example of the deep devastation that is being proposed.

The City’s most vulnerable people will suffer the most if Council does not step in and stop a budget that guts the services and programmes that all Torontonians rely on.

No one who cares about this City can sit quietly by while this administration puts forward a budget of cutbacks and layoffs that will jeopardize the services people depend on and that will hurt our City’s most vulnerable. This is yet another glaring example of this City’s Executive Committee breaking promises, and breaking faith, with every Toronto resident.

This budget lacks transparency, is reckless and irresponsible.

Before the last Municipal Election, Torontonians were promised, “No cuts to services—guaranteed.”

Torontonians were also promised, ‘No Layoffs’. When the Budget

was launched on November 28th, we learned that 2,338 positions will be eliminated, and City employees will indeed suffer layoffs.

Torontonians were also promised, ‘No Layoffs’.  When the Budget was launched on November 28th, we learned that 2,338 positions will be eliminated, and City employees will indeed suffer layoffsJobs are already being deleted even before this budget is passed.  For example the designers at City Hall are losing their jobs but the excessive layers of management are untouched.  Who are they supervising? 

Each service cut represents a vital public service that Torontonians will no longer be able to rely upon.

None of this is necessary. The City’s administration has admitted that the $774 million shortfall that they have been claiming is overstated, by more than a quarter-billion dollars. The Administration’s refusal to use all or part of the $139 million (and growing) surplus from 2011 operations, exposes this budget for what it truly is—a calculated ideological experiment that will disproportionately target those who can least afford it—the poor, the sick, the elderly and children.

This proposed budget will surely have an adverse effect on the quality of life for many Torontonians. In fact, all Torontonians will find themselves paying more for services through taxes and higher user fees. Let me be crystal clear – these proposed budget reductions by City Council appear to be motivated more by a strong desire to privatize than to continue to deliver services of the highest quality with the current workforce! This is just wrong, as other jurisdictions that have attempted this have discovered!

Council needs to do the right thing and demand a budget which uses

all or part of the accumulated 2011 surplus, keeps property taxes in line with inflation and effectively makes use of the tools provided under the City of Toronto Act. By doing so, Toronto can have a balanced budget without the irreparable damage that would be caused by cuts that appear to be motivated by ideology rather than by what is best for the people of Toronto.

Yours truly,

Ann Dembinski
President

 

 

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