Category Archives: Blog

RESPECT – Our Communities, Public Services, and Good Jobs! Rally on Saturday April 9

The Good Jobs for All coalition has endorsed the Community Day of Action on Saturday April 9, 2011. Follow Respect Toronto on Facebook.

1 p.m. Saturday, April 9, 2011
Rally at Dundas Square, followed by a march to Toronto City Hall

What’s at Stake?
• Services and programs that serve every resident and community, such as libraries, child care and recreation centres
• TTC serving all neighbourhoods
• Environmental leadership in challenging climate change
• Keeping public control of public services, such as garbage pickup
• Safeguarding vital public assets, such as housing
• Good jobs and the fundamental rights of workers

Read a Guide to the 2011 City of Toronto Budget by Councillor Janet Davis

 

2011 City Budget Launched

01/13/2011

The proposed 2011 City Budget was released at City Hall this week. This year, the City will consider its Capital, Operating, Water and Solid Waste budgets together and in a shorter period of time.  

The budget will determine how much funding is available to deliver the City programs, services, and facilities that residents rely on every day. I want you to understand how the budget will affect these services, and I want to hear your views. 

Over the next three weeks, the Budget Committee and Council will debate, make changes and approve the budget. Your input can make a difference.

Below you will find more information about the 2011 budget proposals and the next article in this newsletter details how to get involved. For more information about the budget, you can view the City web page at www.toronto.ca/budget2011.

Budget Highlights

The 2011 proposed budget has been balanced by drawing on our savings (reserves), reducing services and using the one-time surplus of $350 Million from 2009 and 2010.  With a tax increase of 0% and the elimination of $64 million in revenue from the Personal Vehicle Tax, the City has fewer ongoing revenues to build a sustainable budget for the future. 

The following is a summary of some of most important features of the proposed 2011 Budget.

Property Taxes, Water Rates and Garbage Fees

•    The proposed property tax rate increase from last year is 0%, so your property tax bill should stay the same.
•    The proposed Water Rate increase is 9% over last year, which will cost the average homeowner an additional $60 per year on their water bill
•    The proposed Garbage Bin Fee increase is 3%, which will cost the average household $6-$12 per year, depending on the size of bin used.

Parks and Recreation
•    Fees for recreation programs will increase 3% over last year
•    Adults taking programs at designated Priority Recreation Centres, such as the Secord Recreation Centre, will now have to pay fees for programs.

Public Library
•    The Urban Affairs Library at Metro Hall will be closed, and the collections and staff moved to the Toronto Reference Library.
•    The number of books purchased for circulation will be significantly reduced, meaning you will wait much longer to borrow some books

Tenants
•    Funding to support tenants will be cut by $100,000

Transit
•    The TTC has proposed reducing the service on 48 routes, including the 62 Mortimer Bus after 10pm on weekends and holidays.
•    Fares may be frozen if the City and TTC can find $24m in cuts elsewhere in the budget to offset the cost

Police Services
•    200 to 250 positions will not be filled when officers retire in 2011

Toronto Water Programs
•    Drain Grant Program that provides $1500 to property owners for broken sewer pipes will be eliminated
•    Water efficient toilet and washer rebate program eliminated
•    Lead Water Service replacement program reduced

2011 Budget Process

Once the public hearings have been completed, the budget will be considered at the following meetings:
•    January 19: Budget Committee Hearings at the East York Civic Centre (see www.janetdavis.ca for more information) and the North York Civic Centre.
•    January 20: Budget Committee Hearings at the York and Scarborough Civic Centres
•    January 24 and 25: further Budget Committee meetings
•    February 10: Budget Committee Final Review of the 2011 Budget
•    February 17: Executive Committee reviews the Budget
•    February 23, 24, 25, and 28: Toronto City Council meeting to approve the budget

City Hall:
Councillor Janet Davis
100 Queen Street West,
2nd Floor, Suite C57
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Community Office:
East York Civic Centre
850 Coxwell Avenue
East York, ON M4C 5R1
Phone: 416-397-4870

Cities Get the Cold Shoulder with EI Announcement

By Laurell Ritchie, CAW National Representative

The government’s October 12 announcement that they will extend two EI pilot projects for eight more months (“Best 14 Weeks” and “40% Allowable Earnings”) is welcome news for the many workers who find themselves in precarious employment. The government should move quickly to make them permanent features of the EI Act.

Continue reading Cities Get the Cold Shoulder with EI Announcement

Good Jobs for All Coalition Co-Chair Winnie Appointed to Sam-Gindin Chair

Labour rights activist and scholar Winnie Ng has joined Ryerson University as the CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy. The CAW-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy is the first union-endowed chair at a Canadian university.

In her role, Ng will build upon the work of inaugural chair Judy Rebick, a well-known journalist, author and activist who was first appointed in 2002. The chair’s mandate is to create a hub of interaction between social justice activists and academics at Ryerson. It is a cross appointment between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Community Services, and Ng will begin her three-year term in January 2011.

“Winnie’s reputation for building broad alliances across different sectors and sites of social justice will serve her well in this role,” said Usha George, dean, Faculty of Community Services. “Her contacts and networks are a real asset to Ryerson, and we anticipate students benefitting from meaningful interaction with external stakeholders in the social justice arena.”

“Winnie was selected not only for her extensive experience in the social justice field but for her research interests in anti-racism, equality, and coalition and capacity building,” said Mark Lovewell, interim dean, Faculty of Arts. “Winnie will be well positioned to direct the chair’s mandate.”

For over three decades, Ng has championed the rights of workers through her involvement with various labour organizations and networks. She is currently the acting executive assistant to the president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. Prior to that, Ng was the acting executive director of the Labour Education Centre, and for eight years, she was the Canadian Labour Congress’ Ontario regional director. She is the labour co-chair of Good Jobs for All Coalition, an executive member of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance and a board member of Labour Community Services.

Recognized for her leadership in the Canadian labour movement, Ng is the recipient of numerous distinctions including the Urban Alliance on Race Relations’ Leadership Award, the United Farm Workers’ Cesar Chavez Black Eagle Award and the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. She is a sought-after speaker and contributor on women’s rights, labour equity and anti-racism issues.

Ng holds a MA and PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral studies focused on re-imagining the labour movement from an anti-racism perspective. She graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Sociology.

The CAW-Sam Gindin Chair was launched in 2002 and is made possible with a significant leadership gift from the Canadian Auto Workers union. It is named in honour of Sam Gindin, an economist and activist who was the assistant to the first CAW president, Bob White, and past president, Buzz Hargrove, who is a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

Now Magazine Covers Scarborough Debate

Our allies at Public Interest and the Scarborough Civic Action Network hosted a debate on inner city issues last week, and managed to secure a major article in Now magazine.

Here’s the article.   Tell us if you think the article is an accurate depiction of Scarborough and residents’ feelings about the election.

Ford gets spanked in the burbs

THIS JUST IN: FORD RATTLED IN SCARBOROUGH DUKE-OUT. NOT EVERYONE NORTH OF THE 401 IS DRINKING THE KOOL-AID.

BY ENZO DI MATTEO

The grey stone sculptures on the lawn outside the Scarborough Civic Centre add to the gloom on a rainy Monday night ….

It’s tempting to start off a story about the city-versus-suburban narrative fuelling Rob Ford’s run with words like these. Call it media over-exposure.

But at the first real duke-out between mayoral candidates in the burbs, on September 27, David Miller’s legacy is seemingly alive and well in what’s supposed to be fertile Ford territory.

The occasion is the Scarborough Civic Action Network’s Inner City Suburbs, Inner City Issues debate.

Inside the Civic Centre, the mood is bright but slightly tense as campaign workers for the five leading contenders hawk T-shirts and buttons outside the council chamber. This race for mayor, like all those since amalgamation, will be won in the burbs.

The candidates are eager to glad-hand. Rocco Rossi, an early arrival, is making the rounds. The woman sitting next to me, though, refuses to shake his hand. Too right-wing, she says. Rossi’s quick on his feet. He tells her he’s the only candidate not calling for tax cuts. True enough – but he is calling for substantial cuts in spending. Same thing. He moves on.

Visible-minority faces outnumber the older white ones two-to-one in the standing room-only crowd.

When the Civic Centre was built, in the early 70s, the space-age Raymond Moriyama beauty reflected the promise of a bright future for the former borough known lovingly as Scarberia. Almost 40 years on – and 10 years after an apocalyptic amalgamation – some of that old shine is still there, but not in huge swaths of Scarborough.

The model inner-city suburb has been heavily urbanized, and some of the same problems that confront poor neighbourhoods in the inner city now plague Scarborough. Shocking but true: 35 per cent of children under 15 are living in poverty. Six of Toronto’s most under-served priority neighbourhoods are here.

One clear sign of that stress tonight are the boxes set out for food donations.

The story is the same in other suburban outposts – Jane-Finch in North York, Rexdale in Etobicoke.

Far from the havens they used to be thought, the inner suburbs now feel marooned from the city. And that isolation, or perceived isolation, is what has given rise to Ford’s popularity – or so we’ve been led to believe by the pontificators.

Sure looks like it going into Monday’s debate.

There’s an impromptu smattering of applause from the mostly grey-haired, Rotary Club types from West Hill when Ford ambles into the council chamber. The conquering hero has arrived.

The chatter around me, though, is mostly about the importance of public transit. And Ford’s the guy, after all, who wants to kill Transit City, the plan that extends a lifeline from one side of Toronto to the other. The university student behind me wonders if Ford has ever tried to take a bus across Scarborough during rush hour. What plans does Ford have for city building and social development?

He’s credited with having a commoner’s touch. “People just want their garbage picked up and value for their buck” has been his mantra. But tonight the unthinkable, or at least the unexpected, happens. The conventional wisdom is turned on its head.

The good people of Scarborough – at least those here – are not the angry dupes we’ve been reading about in the polls. Apparently, not everyone north of the 401 is drinking the Ford Kool-Aid. A few nights earlier, in Ford’s own backyard, the guy breathing down his neck in the polls drew a few hundred to a rally.

Truth is, suburbanites share our city and have many of the same concerns about social development, city-building and livability as downtowners.

They care about the arts, about public transit connecting poorer neighbourhoods to where the jobs are, about trees lining the streets.

They’re looking for someone to articulate their dreams, maybe inspire them a little. Tonight, the candidates who talk about what connects instead of what divides our city get the loudest applause. And that’s not Ford.

People get it, as the guy who got their vote for mayor in the last two elections is fond of pointing out about the citizens of our great city.

The “woo-hoo!”s from the designated Ford cheerleader at the back become more half-hearted as the night wears on. Ford has been exposed. The polls are beginning to show that – again.

Even his old standby, i.e., “Who do you trust?” is greeted by a resounding “Not you.”

When the subject turns to the havoc wreaked by amalgamation and his late father’s role in that debacle as an MPP in the Harris government, Ford plays the sympathy card, painting his mayoral competitors as unjust attackers of dear dead Dad. Groans fill the chamber. Someone calls him a crybaby.

Ford sits stunned.