City Centre Mirror
What could be the first round of staff cuts at the City of Toronto has led to the elimination of more than 2,300 positions - half of which are layoffs and buy-outs of existing positions.
City manager Joe Pennachetti released the numbers during the November meeting of Toronto Council. Earlier in the year, the city had solicited requests for voluntary buy-outs for employees in an effort to cut staff. That process yielded just 230 staff who qualified for the buyout.
The final numbers are higher.
The city has laid off a total of 666 unionized workers and 48 non-unionized workers, and eliminated another 643 union and 94 management positions that are currently vacant.
The Toronto Public Library, meanwhile, has eliminated 152.5 positions and the Toronto Transit Commission has laid off 324 workers. The Toronto Police Service won't be filling 372 vacant jobs, and other city agencies, boards and commissions have eliminated 39 vacant positions.
In total, the city has eliminated 2,338.5 jobs.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said the job reductions were unavoidable, for the city to balance a budget that at one time was unfunded to the tune of $774 million.
"It's a difficult thing to do and no one takes any glee in having to be in this situation, but we've had to make changes - we've got redundant positions in the structure and this is the way we have to deal with them," he said. "I know it's not usual for municipalities to get into layoffs, but that's the thing we have to do. There's a lot of new employees and we find it necessary to reduce that."
Holyday said he couldn't guarantee that this would be the last round of layoffs.
"Whether there'll be more than this I don't know, but I can tell you that we're going into the budget reserves for $83 million, and we'd like to operate without using reserves at all. I'd say there's more efficiencies to be found."
TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the TTC layoffs have all been implemented, from an involuntary buyout that the commission approved in September.
"We were advised that we had to adjust to the new fiscal realities of the city - to make sure the TTC was sustainable, we had to take these decisions," she said.
Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks, a critic of the mayor, said the layoffs would be felt by Torontonians.
"If you dial 911 next year looking for a firefighter, a paramedic or a cop, you'll do worse than you did last year," he said.
"If you want to order a book through the library system or are the recipient of a program that public health delivers, the city got worse for you."
"If you dial 911 next year looking for a firefighter, a paramedic or a cop, you'll do worse than you did last year. If you want to order a book through the library system or are the recipient of a program that public health delivers, the city got worse for you."- Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks