Toronto Service Review – needs your input

You may know that the City of Toronto administration is providing a 'Toronto Service Review' for its citizens, to tell the city what services to keep, cut, privatize etc. This is in response to a $774 million budget shortfall for 2012.

You can go to http://www.toronto.ca/torontoservicereview/ and do two things:

1. You can ‘enter your feedback online’ which I did yesterday and it is very interesting to think about city services for all of us including the most vulnerable of our neighbours and whether we want to see them kept by the city or privatized.

2. You can find out about ‘City-run and community-led sessions’ or ‘register now for a City-run session’. You can provide your input until June 17. Their suggested format is at http://www.toronto.ca/torontoservicereview/pdf/communitydiscussiontipsandsampleagenda.pdf

I registered online for the one at Danforth Collegiate Institute on May 26, 7 pm, but you can find out which one is closest to you at  http://www.toronto.ca/torontoservicereview/events.htm

Some rumours have it that Mayor Ford will call out his ‘Ford Nation’ to skew the results of this review in favour of ‘privatizing, service cuts, user fees, no increase in property taxes etc. We have already lost 23 citizen advisory groups (all volunteer at no cost to the city) that were cancelled by the Executive Committee despite huge numbers of citizen requests not to do so.(There is no evidence that privatization of services is less expensive than public provision.) I suspect that this review will also serve to bypass and sideline our elected city council members as is being done with the garbage collection privatization issue right now – see http://www.torontoenvironment.org/waste/privatize/lookbeforeyouleap

Therefore as many of us as possible who believe in public services for everyone with few or no user fees, need to respond to this review and keep as many of our services as possible provided by the city where they can be monitored by our elected councillors, rather than some unaccountable business person.

The one thing not being mentioned in the survey is the need to request long term stable funding for infrastructure like the TTC (the only transit system in the western world that does not receive regular, stable funding from upper levels of government)from the Federal and Provincial governments. Toronto does not have a ‘gravy train’ spending problem so much as it has a ‘lack of revenue’ problem and Mayor Ford has not seriously addressed that problem.

Remember that Toronto’s most vulnerable citizens, our neighbours, are the ones who will suffer most from service cuts and privatization.

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About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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