Let’s speak up to protect social services

By Aaron Berhane August 2011 Mayor Rob Ford hired consultants to review the city’s services to help him understand how he could reduce Toronto’s proje...

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By Aaron Berhane
August 2011

Mayor Rob Ford hired consultants to review the city’s services to help him understand how he could reduce Toronto’s projected deficit of $774 million. The consultants have reviewed all sectors of city administration and suggested which services should be cut and which outsourced. Ford and his councillors have listened to the consultants’ recommendations.

The consultants found that 96% of services are essential. They weren’t able to find ways to save money, but they recommended cuts such as reducing the budget for police and firefighters. They also suggested reducing library services, environmental programs, putting an end to street cleaning after spring clean-up, etc. But these are all core services.

The city had conducted an online survey to find out people’s opinions on how the city can save money. Should we cut municipal services or increase property taxes? About 13,000 people completed the survey, and 78% preferred an increase in property taxes and no cuts to services. About 4.5% of people surveyed opposed any tax increase. The majority also opposed outsourcing and believe the city should continue to provide the types of public services it currently delivers.

As soon as the consultants released their report and publicised it widely, the people spoke up. Through social and mainstream media, that said they don’t want to see any service cuts. Activists rose to increase awareness by forming a community network. On July 28, Ford and his executive committee listened to the concerns and suggestions of the people.

We don’t know how this scenario will end. Councillors will have to discuss and vote. They will make their final decision on September 10. However, we have a chance to play our part to stop the cutting of essential services and call for an increase in property taxes. Let’s speak to our councillors and voice our concerns. We shouldn’t hesitate to swim into the political lake of our city before it’s too late. No service cuts please!

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