Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

November 30, 2011 14:36 ET

City's budget plan a 'litany of broken promises and attacks on Toronto's most vulnerable,' CUPE Presidents say

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2011) - The leaders of three Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Locals representing City of Toronto Employees warned that the city's most vulnerable people will suffer the most if Council does not step in and stop a budget that guts the services all Torontonians rely on.

"No one who cares about this City can sit quietly while this administration puts forward a budget of cutbacks and layoffs that will jeopardize the services people depend on and will hurt our city's most vulnerable. This is yet another example of this City's executive breaking promises and breaking faith with every Toronto resident," said Ann Dembinski, President of CUPE Local 79, representing City of Toronto inside workers.

"Before the last Municipal Election, Torontonians were promised, "No cuts to services - guaranteed. The budget proposed by administration yesterday includes deep cuts, to some of the most critical and cherished services in our community," said Mark Ferguson, President of the Toronto Civic Employees Union, CUPE 416, representing City of Toronto outside workers.

The budget proposal tabled by City management this week calls for deep cuts with profound negative consequences for transit, child care, shelters, libraries, community centres, priority neighbourhoods, and host of other critical services.

The union called on city council to consider alternatives to the cuts and layoffs and take steps to protect jobs and vital public services.

"Torontonians were also promised, 'No Layoffs'. We learned from yesterday's budget that 2,338 City employees will receive pink slips. Each of these employees represents a vital public service Torontonians will no longer be able to rely upon," said CUPE 4948 President Maureen O'Reilly, who represents Toronto Public Library employees.

For months, City Administration and Mayor Rob Ford's hand-picked Executive Committee have claimed the City faces a 2012 operating shortfall of $774 million, but have refused to provide City Councillors, activists, the media, unions and other concerned citizens with an accurate picture of the city's finances. The city's lack of disclosure had made it virtually impossible to fulfil its mandate of making informed decisions on behalf of their constituents.

The joint statement goes on to note that none of the cutbacks and layoffs are even necessary. City management admitted yesterday that the $774 million shortfall they have been claiming is overstated by more than a quarter-billion dollars. They also have admitted there is a $139 million - and growing - surplus for 2011."

All three presidents urged City Councillors to "utilize all or part of $139 million (and growing) 2011 operating surplus, keeps property taxes in line with the annual inflation rate, and effectively makes use of the tools provided under the City of Toronto Act.

The statement by the presidents of City of Toronto CUPE Locals is attached below.

CUPE Toronto Locals Joint Statement:

As Torontonians, trade unionists and City of Toronto employees, we are compelled to speak out regarding the City's proposed 2012 operating and capital budgets tabled yesterday.

No one who cares about this City can sit quietly while this administration puts forward a budget of cutbacks and layoffs that that will jeopardize the services people depend on and hurt our city's most vulnerable. True to form, this budget lacks transparency, is reckless and irresponsible.

Before the last Municipal Election, Torontonians were promised, "No cuts to services - guaranteed." The budget proposed by administration yesterday includes deep cuts to transit, libraries, community centres, priority neighbourhoods, shelters, child care and a host of other critical services.

Torontonians were also promised, 'No Layoffs'. We learned from yesterday's budget that 2,338 positions will be eliminated, and City employees will indeed see pink slips. Each of these employees represents a vital public service Torontonians will no longer be able to rely upon.

None of this is necessary. Administration admitted yesterday that the $774 million shortfall they have been claiming is overstated by more than a quarter-billion dollars. 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.

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 motivated by ideology rather than by what's best for the people of Toronto.

Ann Dembinski, President, CUPE Local 79 - City of Toronto

Mark Ferguson, President, CUPE Local 416 - Toronto Civic Employees Union

Maureen O'Reilly, President, CUPE Local 4948 - Toronto Public Library Workers Union

Contact Information

  • Kevin Wilson
    CUPE Communications
    416-821-6641