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TORONTO, Ont. – Yesterday’s budget vote, which rejected numerous budget cuts, is the clearest indication yet that when people come together, they can make a positive difference, says the President of Ontario’s largest union.
“Thousands of Torontonians wrote letters, phoned councillors and worked tirelessly to prevent the devastating cuts being pushed by the Ford administration. Their hard work saved libraries, swimming pools, shelters, childcare centres and programs that the people of this city use every day,” Hahn says. “People said they support services. They rely on them. We’re very happy that so many councillors listened to the people of Toronto and voted accordingly.”
Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, was at Toronto City Hall for yesterday’s vote, which saw $20 million in funding restored to transit, child care, swimming pools, shelters, environmental programs and other services. Mayor Ford opposed sparing these services from the axe and lost almost every vote yesterday.
Just the week before, the Mayor’s Executive Committee was also forced to restore $8.4 million in funding to areas including community centres, libraries, and arts and culture programs in an effort to build support for the proposed budget.
“We’re glad that so many councillors ignored Ford’s agenda of cuts and listened to their constituents instead. Voting to protect public programs and services is important, but we know there are still hard days ahead,” says Hahn. “Many programs and services took deep cuts. For years, city workers have been asked to do more with less, and this budget increases those challenges. This city grows every year, and every time budgets and staff levels get cut, it means fewer people with fewer resources serving more people.”
Yesterday, CUPE released an Environics poll showing that 84% of Torontonians want Council to maintain or increase funding for public services and programs, and that support for Ford’s agenda has decreased sharply in recent months. Poll results are available at TorontoTogether.ca.
On Monday, Hahn met with hundreds of CUPE members from across the city who voted unanimously on an action plan to support City of Toronto workers in their efforts to preserve public services and build a better Toronto. CUPE Ontario members from school boards, hospitals, universities and social services launched that campaign one day later, leafleting the public on the budget debate and the fight to preserve public services and good jobs at Subway stops across the city.
CUPE Ontario is the province’s largest union, representing more than 230,000 workers.
For more information, please contact:
Fred Hahn, President, CUPE Ontario, 416-540-3979
Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316