The weather wasn’t the only thing that was cold for Toronto’s working people this spring, as all three levels of government introduced budgets that gave little to working families in the City.
The Federal government passed a Budget which accelerated the implementation of the $5.3 Billion Canada First defence plan so that the Canadian Forces will receive $175 million in 2007–08, in addition to over $100 Million for bonuses and services to veterans of this current war. In addition, they passed over $80 Million more for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (the Canadian CIA), $102 million in additional funds for Correctional Service of Canada and $10 million for the Canadian Police Research Centre. All of these hundreds of millions thrown around for war and policing, and no money for a National child care program to help working families find affordable child care.
Still saddled with the funding provincial social programs that the province refuses to pay the bill for, the City produced a budget that proposed a 3.8% increases in the property taxes (paid by tenants in rent and homeowners through direct taxation) and a decrease in social services.
In fact, the initial Budget recommendations had slated the closure of 7 outdoor pools and 11 indoor pools in Toronto schools where Parks currently runs its programming. These recommendations came just a week before the salary disclosures of public employees was released showing that 2010 City employees made over $100 000 including 708 police. Compared to 2005, only 1193 City employees made over $100 000 of which 279 were police.
The huge increase of almost 300% in police making over $100 000 does not even include officers being directly for time paid directly by individuals and businesses for private events and functions.
Right-wing Councillors and the media point to increased expenses but don’t mention that Police have been given more than $800 million in operating dollars and have also spent $21.1 Million in overtime. So when you see Police at demonstrations or public events, know that constables are making $58/ hour while detectives get paid $66/ hr.
Toronto is one of the safest cities in one of the safest countries, but we are also seeing that people are getting poorer. Safety in working class communities is best addressed through addressing the increasing levels of poverty, particularly amongst our youth whose unemployment rates are consistently double that of older workers. Some of those dollars spent topping up Police officer salaries should be spent in the community employing youth for good jobs, as well providing increased services to people.