This is the week when Toronto City Council votes to determine the extent of cuts to various city departments and organizations. Many departments have seen major cuts scaled back as public pressure has mounted. As already noted, last October, Police Chief Bill Blair presented an expenditure increase as a cut and stared down opposition. As a result, by 2013 the cost of policing this city will approach a billion dollars and continue to consume an ever-increasing portion of the total budget. Chief Blair can confidently assume that his budget will be relatively untouched, either this year or in the years to come.
In contrast, the Toronto Public Library system has managed its resources prudently over the past several years. Library visits are up while costs have declined on a per capita basis since 2004. As a reward for their efficiency, libraries, which are reckoned to be the great equalizers in terms of social opportunity, still face cuts to hours and personnel. Rather than being planned and deliberate, budget cuts appear to be dependent on force of personality, the mood of councillors, and public pressure rather than actual need. Hardly a rational or well-thought out process.
Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22) has an excellent summary of potential cuts here.
Our councillor, Frances Nunziata represents one of the poorest wards in the city yet has voted consistently to reduce programs and services that mitigate the grinding poverty of many of her constituents. Her voting record for 2011 reflects a 97% adherence to the Ford Agenda.
It is hoped in her 15th year as councillor that she will start the New Year with a resolution to do the right thing and vote to maintain programs and services so desperately needed in Ward 11.