Mayor Rob Ford’s administration is launching the first mass layoff in the modern city’s history, kicking almost 1,200 workers off the payroll and eliminating a further 1,148 vacant positions.
City staff on Wednesday revealed the breakdown of the 2,338.5 positions set to disappear as part of Ford’s proposed 2012 austerity budget, unveiled Monday.
Ford is proposing $88 million worth of cuts, most aimed at shrinking the city workforce, and putting a $139 million surplus from 2011 into capital projects and a rainy-day fund. A key Ford mantra is that the city workforce is bloated and must be cut.
For city divisions, a total of 714 people — 666 union members and 48 supervisors — will receive pink slips if all the cuts are approved. A further 737 vacant positions will be eliminated.
For the city’s agencies, boards and commissions, 476.5 currently filled positions are targeted — 152.5 at the Toronto Public Library and 324 at the TTC. The 411 eliminated vacant positions include 372 Toronto police uniform and management jobs.
Although the figures are tied to the 2012 budget, which won’t be passed until mid-January, the Star has confirmed that a flurry of layoff notices has been issued in the past week to managers and union members who are classified as temporary and therefore lack ironclad job provisions.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday called the layoffs a necessary evil, saying he doesn’t relish kicking people out the door before Christmas.
“We’re sorry about that situation and we’re sorry about the timing of this, but our budget comes at the end of the year and this is the time to make changes of this nature,” Holyday said.
“We don’t do this with any glee at all. We’re certainly not happy that we’ve come to this situation. But it’s just a matter of fact that we’ve added more employees over the years than we can afford, and we’ve now got redundant positions and we’ve got to reduce the number in order to balance our budget.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan noted that Ford had previously promised to increase police ranks by 100. He also noted the TTC is pushing staff out the door while ridership is climbing, and riders are about to get longer waits and more crowded buses and streetcars on 62 routes.
He called Ford’s budget “voodoo economics,” deteriorating public services even though there is a surplus big enough to stave off cuts and replenish reserves.
“Driven by ideology, this mayor and his executive and budget chief want to make the city a worse and harder and more difficult place to live — (that’s) not going to happen on this floor of council,” Vaughan vowed.
Do you think Rob Ford is on the right track? What advice would you give our mayor?