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March 2010 President's Report

Dear Fellow Local 79 Members,

At the beginning of March, Local 79 made a deputation to the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee expressing concerns regarding the operating budget for the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year. Once again we registered our protest about the secrecy of the budget process and the ‘confidential’ references in the publicly available documents. The ‘confidential’ clause appeared throughout the budget documents.

In the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division, Local 79 learned that City staff are proposing to lease out the operations of its ski hills and campground at Earl Bales Ski & Snowboard Centre, Centennial Park Ski & Snowboard Centre, and Glen Rouge Campground. Local 79 exposed the closed-door decision making and received a great deal of media attention for highlighting this issue! Now we are mounting a campaign to ensure that the public who use these threatened facilities are aware of what is happening.

Full-day learning for four and five year olds – Local 79 met last month with City staff in the Children’s Services Division to discuss the provincial government’s implementation of full-day learning, scheduled to be phased in beginning September 2010. Local 79 and the City will be holding joint information sessions in April, for our members working in Children’s Services, to provide the most up-to-date information available. The joint information sessions will be held on April 7th (Metro Hall) and April 8th (North York Civic Centre) from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Bill 242, Full Day Early Learning Statute Law Amendment Act, 2010, will be debated at the Standing Committee on Social Policy during the current session of the Provincial Legislature.

Important notice regarding OMERS – to Local 79 members who were on vacation for one or more days during the 2009 strike in the City of Toronto. Many of you received approval for your summer vacation prior to the commencement of the strike. You were paid by the City for days of pre-approved vacation which occurred during the strike. The City did not deduct from your wages the contributory amount that you would normally pay to OMERS, nor did the City pay to OMERS its contributory share for the days that you were on vacation during the strike.

Local 79 filed a policy grievance on this matter; however, I would caution you that grievances take time to work their way through the grievance process and the outcome is not guaranteed. Therefore, if it is your intention to ensure that your pension contributions remain uninterrupted, it is incumbent upon you to pay to OMERS the amount noted, by the date provided in the correspondence sent to you by the City. Local 79 will keep members updated on the progress of the policy grievance.

The City of Toronto, and each of the former municipalities prior to 1998, never considered access to the employer’s parking garages and lots as a taxable benefit. However, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is proposing to include parking access in any one of the controlled parking garages as a taxable benefit because they believe that value can be attributed to the six lots in question. Local 79 will be meeting with the City to discuss the issue. We are strongly opposed to any attempts by the CRA to make parking a taxable benefit. We will also make every effort to ensure that the City will be responsible for any tax incurred for parking for any employee required by the City to provide a vehicle for the business of the City.

Local 79 made a deputation last month to the Government Management Committee on the 311 Project, and addressed this issue again in our Operating Budget deputation to the Budget Committee. The City is planning, in conjunction with 311 Toronto, to implement a Counter and Kiosk Strategy. Local 79 believes that when people go to the Civic Centres, Metro Hall, and City Hall, they want, and expect, to deal with a real live person and not a machine! We emphasized to both committees that in many, many cases the human touch cannot be replaced by a service kiosk. Local 79 believes strongly that there must be a balance between the new opportunities that technologies can offer and the face-to face contact that Local 79 members provide – which the public repeatedly confirm that they want. This personal service is necessary in order to truly assist people and not dismiss their needs, especially when dealing with seniors, new Canadians and the thousands of people whose first language is not English.

On March 21st, we acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is a day observed all around the world to focus attention on the problems of racism and the need to promote racial harmony. Local 79 is committed to fairness and equity in the workplace. March 21st remains an important day to recognize as we remember that racism and discrimination must be eliminated wherever and whenever they occur.

In solidarity,

Ann Dembinski
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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