Category Archives: Social Service

Mayor Ford…Sigh


This is what it has come to. Toronto citizens are in the throes of what amounts to the 5 Stages of Grief, where Mayor Rob Ford is concerned.

Stage one: Denial.

Yes, in the beginning, although the signs of trouble appeared early, many supporters continued to, well, support their vote for the Gravy Train conductor—not unlike the handful of Americans who believed invading Iraq was the right thing to do, until it became evident there were no WMD’s, that the whole thing was a ruse perpetrated by the highest level of government. It didn’t take long for Mr. Ford and his henchmen to find out there is little or no gravy flooding the corridors of City Hall. Remember his campaign mantra: “There will be no cuts to services!”

Stage two: Anger.

Now we have thousands of workers under the chopping block; TTC fares are rising while services are reduced; Car Revenue Tax (a source of income) eliminated and bicycle lanes removed (at taxpayers’ expense); library services reduced; arts funding reduced; the city’s poorest citizens evicted from public housing so it can be sold; waterfront development torpedoed (remember the giant Ferris Wheel?). Property tax increase imminent. You get the idea. But at last, the masses are mobilizing, showing up for City Hall meetings to voice their concerns. Open warfare between the Brothers Ford and Toronto’s most priceless asset, Dame Margaret Atwood. A handful of sensible council members finally popping their heads out of the trench and daring to openly challenge the mayor and his cronies on some of their more outrageous maneuvers.  The police department, which was promised an increase in ranks, openly defies the mayor’s demand for a ten-percent reduction in budget (i.e.: layoffs).

Stage three: Bargaining.

The unions are sending up flares. Toronto can expect disruptions in many areas in the coming year, thanks to Mr. Ford’s bully tactics. Waterfront Toronto is attempting to save its marriage with the city, because it has already invested so much time and money in the project, and because it remains the best option for the lakefront development (sorry, Robbie, no Ferris Wheel for you and your little brother). Library management is taking control of how cuts will be made in its own department, despite the Ford plan, which was to simply shut most of them down altogether. Just to name a few.

Welcome to stage four: Depression.

No longer shocked or outraged by the mayor’s imbecilic words and actions, all we can do is sigh. We feel powerless. An election is still several years away, unless some plucky lawyer steps forward with a strategy to impeach the Mayor. Come on, Bay Street, if a few of you can come out in support of some rag-tag “Occupy” protesters who didn’t even have an issue to fight for, the least you can do is save your own city from this bloated Nero, before he burns the place to the ground. I know most of you live on Mississauga Road, but you work downtown, and you will soon be paying road tolls to get your Jag into the underground lot, unless you do something soon.

Stage five: Acceptance.

We haven’t got there, yet, but we will. Like the battered wife, we will eventually be beaten into submission. And make no mistake, the appearance of Acceptance will be entirely superficial, a defense mechanism, the only way to cope, to keep the rod from once again coming down on our heads.

Stage six: vote.

Please.

 


Bus-ted!


In a city already reeling from the Bush-esque buffoonery of its mayor(s), Toronto cannot be surprised by the latest headline from the TTC, in which it proposes a fare hike, job cuts and longer wait times. Oh, and they also propose to leave behind 1,800 dialysis patients, who currently rely on Wheel-Trans to get them around. The reason: these users do not have mobility devices. I guess the bus doesn’t count as a mobility device, and in any case, they will no longer have the bus, because the TTC wants to take it away from them, ostensibly because they use it too much—presumably to get to and from the hospital, so they can receive their dialysis treatment.

Ah, TTC…the better way. Unless you are a cripple. Or poor. Or TTC management. Yes, it’s the managers who will take the brunt of the proposed layoffs. This might seem like a good idea on the surface, since most large organizations are top-heavy. But, while axing a few managers will save some money in salaries, it’s the unionized worker who costs the transit the most in the long run, due to a very long list of expensive benefits, paid out over the years—benefits the managers do not receive. And with a collective agreement under their belts (aka: gravy), it’s nearly impossible to get rid of unionized workers, so it’s just easier to show the managers the door. One can assume that once the front offices are vacated, there will be no one to take your complaint about your bus driver, whom you photographed as he was texting, whilst speeding down Steeles Avenue. Oh well. That’s another story, down the road.

As for a fare hike, that subject has been covered sufficiently, both here and elsewhere, that it need not consume any more of our energy. But it harkens back to a broader subject that bears repeating: public transit should be subsidized by local and provincial governments. Yes, it should be lean and efficient. If the TTC feels it can eject nearly 300 managers and not suffer too much, there is indeed room for improvement. But when its number-one priority is to make a profit (or at least break even, or not carry a deficit), costs will always go up and service will always slide. That’s just the balance of nature. A subsidized transit will earn those governments back money in other related areas, such as road maintenance and healthcare, to name two.

Yes, of course the TTC should try to be financially responsible, but not at the expense of the service it is meant to provide. In order to satisfy Mr. Ford’s mandate, it feels it is okay to screw passengers for more cash, edging out even more of the marginal riders, reduce services by making riders wait longer for the bus, and specifically exclude a desperate and handicapped segment of the population. Perhaps those dialysis patients can get a ride to the hospital in Rob Ford’s Hummer. Apparently he is accessible by phone, even while behind the wheel.