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Local 79 deputes at the Toronto Water Budget

Dear Councillor Di Giorgio and Members of the Budget Committee:

RE:      BU46.1 2014 Rate Supported Budgets – Toronto Water and 2014 Water and Wastewater Rates and Service Fees

The rate-supported budgets before the Budget Committee today reflect the alarming trend in all the City’s Divisions, Agencies, Boards and Commissions of frontline staff shortages and high vacancy rates. All Divisions and ABCs are being asked to deliver more services with shrinking resources.

This is especially true in Toronto Water. Rigid budget restrictions have deferred over a billion dollars of necessary capital projects over the next 10 years, and the number of vacant and gapped positions is at an all-time high of 242  (14.1%). This City is bursting at the seams with development. Our population keeps growing and growing each year. Extreme climate events have put incredible stress on the City’s aging infrastructure. How can service levels be stabilized in this environment? 

The Analyst Briefing Notes state that one of its 2014 Key Cost Drivers is:

  • “Toronto Water projects significant savings in salaries and benefits in 2013, due to a large number of vacant positions. Under-spending of salary and benefit budget assisted Toronto Water in mitigating the impact of lower water consumption experienced in previous years. Through its work force development program, Toronto Water continues to address issues of unfilled positions and reduce any adverse impact on its operational requirements.”

The Toronto Water Division needs to fill all of its budgeted positions. Although one of Toronto Water’s priorities is “focussing on planning and training to ensure the availability of its future workforce”, it is doing so in the context of flat-lined budgets and the ongoing search for mandated efficiencies. 

It seems that City Divisions, whether they are rate-supported or tax-supported, are trying to function with budget restraints that hamper their ability to deliver the services that communities need.

Flat-lined budgets mean service cuts.

 

Yours truly,

Tim Maguire, President

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