Reaction Roundup: councillors on the surprisingly dramatic vote on cleaning contracts
The formerly “mushy middle” and the left-leaners on city council teamed up against another of Rob Ford’s campaign promises yesterday, seizing oversight of future contracting out of city cleaning jobs. Instead of going to an internal committee, cleaning contracts will now be voted on by council—which will make it much harder for Ford to cut costs by privatizing more city contracts (unionized cleaners earn as much as $26 an hour, plus benefits, while the market rate is about $17 an hour, according to the National Post). The vote also stirred up plenty of resentment, tears and gravy references at city hall (who knew cleaning contracts were so contentious?).
A roundup of councillor reactions:
• An irritated Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday indirectly blamed voters for his faction’s loss and gave the electorate some very specific guidelines for the next municipal election: “Don’t send us any more activists, don’t send us any more unionists, don’t send us any more cyclists. Send us some people down here with good common sense who just want to manage the city’s affairs. That’s what is needed.”
• Councillor Pam McConnell, a union supporter who wrote the winning motion, dismissed Holyday’s mini-tantrum, saying he was just “cranky” because his side lost.
• Centrist Ana Bailão introduced the motion and fought back tears describing her own experiences cleaning offices with her mother as a teenager: “I know this industry. These are the most vulnerable people in this city. It’s not only about money, it’s making sure that the companies we are dealing with respect their employees.”
• Janet Davis painted a bleak picture of the Ford brothers’ plans, saying that the “mayor has set out—and his brother said clearly—to privatize and contract out everything that is not nailed down,” and adding that the vote showed council disagrees.
• Finally, fiscal conservative Karen Stintz brought the conversation back to the search for gravy, wondering whether these contracts really belong on that oft-referenced train: “When you think about the fact that the money we’re saving on these cleaning contracts is equivalent to the bonuses that we’re paying to Build Toronto [executives], it just makes you pause and think, are we finding the right savings and the right way, is that the right gravy?”
• Toronto Mayor Ford’s drive to privatize stalled as councillors take control [Globe and Mail]
• Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday tells voters not to elect more activists, unionists or cyclists [Toronto Star]
• Is Toronto cutting ‘the right gravy’? Stintz asks [National Post]
8 thoughts on “Reaction Roundup: councillors on the surprisingly dramatic vote on cleaning contracts”
Aren’t Rob Ford, Doug Ford, and Doug Holyday right-wing activists? So saying “Don’t send us any more activists” by Doug Holyday same as saying: don’t vote for me?
33000 students no longer go to school in the city of Toronto because of high taxes to support a bloated city government bureaucracy and militant overpaid unions majority of which do not even live in my city….Is is fair that many of the families Ana and Karen are leaving Toronto because of high taxes/ How many jobs and businesses continue to leave because of high taxes of Toronto to the 905 area code? This is many many people like be very angry….You don’t feel sorry for my elderly father forced to sell his house and frankly I don’t care what you are issues are Ana..You are here to represent all your voters and not the unions…Sorry don’t buy the sob story
I appreciate checking your website. Thank you!
Jane Doe: darling many 905 area codes have higher tax rates than Toronto. Just so you know —
Jane Doe, why don’t you get on your shortbus and c’mon over to Oakville… then you’ll REALLY see what high property taxes are!
Enough with your pathetic crocodile tears… your taxes are CHEAP.
The statement that the City of Toronto property tax rates are lower than othen GTA municipalities while true is not relevant today in this value for money discussion.
Firstly Toronto property taxes represent only 40% of its total revenues. 20% of its revenues comes from the grants and subsidies from the province and 15% from user fees for city services. The remaining 25% of revenues comes from other taxes/revenues such as land transfer tax, parking tags/lots, Toronto Hydro, etc.
Secondly, a more revealing benchmark would be: on average how much does Toronto spend per resident. In apples to apples comparison, adjusting for anomalies such as the subsidy of the large number of regional TTC riders, Toronto spends per capita about 30% to 50% more than any other GTA city and also more than Vancouver and Montreal. Given the opportunity for economies of scale that number for Toronto should be lower. It is higher because the City’s labour rates are higher.
The argument could be made that the cost of living in Toronto is high therefore labour is generally more expensive but that bias would also be reflected in similar private sector jobs which it is not. Housing costs in Toronto are high but so are Vancouver’s and many city employees do not actually live in Toronto. At one time, almost 50% of the Toronto Police Service resided beyond Toronto boundaries.
Bottom line, the City of Toronto should not be paying more for a service in-house than what that same quality service costs in the open market from a qualified provider. Otherwise how would you explain this to the cleaner working 2 jobs in the private sector to pay their share of the above taxes, so that someone working for the city could earn almost twice as much as they do for the same job. Talk about fairness.
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