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Peterborough public services are worth it!

Council Watch:

Every municipal council makes key decisions that impact how our communities operate, the kind of services provided and who operates those services to meet residents’ needs. Around the province we see politicians take on a direct role in the bargaining process of workers and too often statements made at council meetings or in the media turn public opinion against workers and unions. To keep track of decisions made by the council and feel the political pulse in City Hall, the Peterborough Municipal Coalition has been regularly attending council and budget committee meetings. Having a regular presence is important to keep councillors accountable and transparent; more importantly, it ensures that there is a direct community link to oversee information and track votes.

Since the last municipal election CUPE members have set up a Council Watch program to oversee the municipal council. In Peterborough, there is growing concern about the whispers from councillors and the mayor seeking to privatize vital and historic community services. Playing a monitoring role allows CUPE members to stay informed and directly act if the time comes.

This monitoring role has been noticed by councillors and the media who have questioned why CUPE members are present at meetings. The presence is further felt by councillors because the workers wear green Peterborough Coalition t-shirts to show their presence proudly. Click Here to read the article from the Peterborough examiner.

When asked why they are present at meetings, CUPE members say it clearly: we are here to monitor the budget process and ensure the City is spending its money wisely. Too often deals and budget decisions are made with no accountability or involvement from the public.  But with a Council Watch program in place the coalition can help educate and inform the mayor about the harm to the community when services are eroded, contracted out or privatized. Through research and the lived experience of other municipalities, we know that quality and access go down when services are privatized. Public service delivery can help the community.  The Council Watch Program ensures the Peterborough Council knows that residents want their city council to support accountable, fair, and transparent decision-making that supports public services.

Although the 2012 budget does not appear to have direct cutbacks to services that would lead to the privatization of municipal services, there is a need to continue the Council Watch to ensure the mayor or councillors do not push through a private agenda. Lobbying is only effective when it is maintained.  

The budget process for 2013 will begin as early as this spring so it’s important for the coalition to be the eyes and ears to ensure strong community service delivery is maintained. If you want to get involved and participate in the Peterborough Council Watch program contact us today! 

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