Rob Ford could deliver on a campaign promise by fixing Toronto’s broken 311 service

Rob Ford could deliver on a campaign promise by fixing Toronto’s broken 311 service

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Apparently, Toronto’s 311 service is in a spot of trouble. Naturally, having staff on call to help Torontonians deal with broken waters mains and dead raccoons makes a certain amount of sense, but a report from the city’s auditor general finds that roughly one in five calls to the service go unanswered and many callers face lengthy wait times. Meanwhile, water mains keep gushing and dead raccoons keep getting deader—and another of Rob Ford’s campaign promises remains effectively broken.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

The report from Auditor-General Jeffrey Griffiths blamed the poor customer service on high employee absentee rates, uneven staff performance and a shoddy performance management system.

Between January and March, a daily average of 12 per cent of staff were absent due to sickness or other unplanned reasons.

According to March call logs, one operator took 98 calls while another answered 29.

This could actually be something of a political gift for Ford. With all the gravy talk—and gravy re-definitionit’s easy to forget that there was a second plank to Ford’s mayoral campaign: improved customer service. Here’s a chance for Ford to do something other than laying people off or slashing services. Of course, the mayor isn’t exactly known as a 311 fan boy, and the levels of absentee staff provide a hint at how Ford might try to “improve” 311 if he decides to get involved. Oh, also, there’s this: “Calgary has a similar call volume and achieves similar results, but uses almost half the staff that Toronto does.”

A fifth of 311 calls go unanswered: city auditor [Globe and Mail]
Audit of Toronto’s 311 service finds high level of absentee staff, unanswered calls [National Post]
Toronto’s 311 service needs a fix [CBC]