December 5, 2011 - No. 16
Manufacturing Yes! Nation-Wrecking No!
McGuinty's Sell-Out Definition of Ontario
as a "Free-Trading Jurisdiction"
• McGuinty's Sell-Out Definition of Ontario
a "Free-Trading Jurisdiction"
Hereditary Rights Are Not
• Attawapiskat First Nation's Just Demand for
Housing and Dignity
• Government Must Be Held Responsible for
Illegal Mineral Exploration on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First
Nation Lands! - Philip Fernandez
Necessity to Oppose
• Concocted Hudak-McGuinty Drama Covers Up
Joint Aim to Attack the Workers - Christine Nugent
• City Workers' Fight for Job Security
Blocks Privatization - Steve Rutchinski
• City to Eliminate 2,338 Jobs
• Proposed 2012 Budget
• Ford/McGuinty Public Transit Privatization
Agenda Becomes Clearer - Jim Nugent
• Public Transit Cuts Coming in January
• Toronto Needs More Child Care Centres
- Pritilata Waddedar
McGuinty's Sell-Out Definition of Ontario
as a "Free-Trading Jurisdiction"
On November 30, Premier McGuinty was asked in the
Ontario legislature whether he would give U.S. mining giant Cliff
Natural Resources an exemption from the Mining Act to allow it to ship
chromite concentrate mined in the Ring of Fire to Asia for processing.
He answered that they will "work as hard
as we can" to "maximize the benefits for the people of Ontario" but
that "We are part of the global economy. We are a free-trading
jurisdiction." He goes on to suggest that "there are thousands and
thousands of jobs that are associated with us receiving from other
provinces, other countries, indeed other continents,
minerals that are coming in for us to process here."
What McGuinty is telling the people of Ontario is that
the McGuinty government will decide whether or not processing of
Ontario minerals is to take place here based on what favours the
monopolies and their globalized economy. He refuses to consider how to
have a self-reliant economy in Ontario,
nor how to uphold the sovereignty of aboriginal
nations on whose territories these resources are found.
As the producers who transform Mother Nature's bounty
into the wealth on
which the Ontario economy is built, the workers reject this definition
of our economy as a "free-trading jurisdiction." It is our economy and
the workers as well as the aboriginal nations from whose territories
the chromite is being pillaged demand a say
as to whether and how these resources are to be mined and processed. We
demand that "Our Resources Stay Here!"
Far from protecting the jobs in the manufacturing sector
in Ontario the McGuinty government has been responsible for their
destruction based on his failed policy that Ontario is "open for
business." The closing of Xtrata in Timmins putting 700 people out of
work is just one example.
claim that "thousands and thousands of
jobs" in Ontario are dependent on minerals from elsewhere coming here
for processing, is wildly exaggerated at best. It is to justify the
nation-wrecking of the McGuinty government and the
which it serves.
Whether it is the forestry and mining workers of
northern Ontario or the steelworkers or farmers, the question which
workers are increasingly grappling with is how to set a new direction
for the economy that will open a path for society's progress. A
government of Ontario worthy of the name would consider itself
duty-bound to represent this striving.
Nations Hereditary Rights Are Not
Attawapiskat First Nation's Just Demand
for Housing and Dignity
The Attawapiskat First
Nation declared a housing
emergency at the end of October. The Cree First Nation is situated on
the James Bay coast in northern Ontario. The housing crisis has been
ongoing for many years. The Harper government and the McGuinty
government -- which stated in
its recent Throne Speech that it wants to address the issue of poverty
in the Aboriginal community -- have continued to deny
the hereditary rights of the First Nations and the treaty obligations
of the federal government. Given the fact Canada occupied all First
Nations lands and is greatly enriched in myriad ways as a result of
this, both the federal and provincial governments have definite social
responsibilities in law. Instead, both federal
and Ontario governments continue the historic colonial and genocidal
practices towards First Nations. The more time passes, the more
criminally negligent they become.
More than 2,000 people live in Attawapiskat of whom more
250 people are currently living in makeshift dwellings such as
insulated tents, temporary shelters and converted garages. Many homes
are deteriorating and contaminated with black mould -- a toxic fungus.
In the face of the lack of basic sanitation, running
water and warmth, the Chief and Council report that infectious diseases
With winter fast approaching, the entire community is
endangered. Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has called on the Harper
government for emergency aid including an emergency evacuation of her
people to ensure their health and safety.
government responded by putting the community under trusteeship and
declaring that more than enough money has been given to the community
which has not accounted for it. The federal government
continues to impose a European way of life with a definite
property-centred outlook onto the situation and slanders the Native
peoples as totally irresponsible when they
do not measure up to this yard stick. Canadians are being grossly
disinformed on the matter
in a manner which presents the Native people as indigent
living off of social
welfare, not victims of a colonial
program of genocide and oppression and imperialist exploitation and
plunder. The aim of the
government is to expropriate the wealth on Native lands and "get rid"
of what it considers to be "the problem" -- the human beings who have
rights by virtue of
being human as well as treaty and hereditary rights by virtue of being
First Nations. They stand in the way of the outright plunder of these
Ontario Political Forum
calls on its readers to denounce the Harper government with all their
energy for its criminal treatment of the Attawapiskat First Nation.
Emergency relief and long-term relief must be provided immediately!
Government Must Be Held Responsible
for Illegal Mineral
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation Lands!
On November 14, the
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI)
located nearly 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, broke
talks with the Ontario government on the use of its traditional lands.
The talks broke off after the government repeatedly refused
stop provocative and illegal mineral exploration on KI traditional
lands by exploration company God's Lake Resources (GLR). The KI had
ongoing negotiations with the government since before 2008
regarding the illegal activities of various mine exploration companies
in their territory.
Not only is GLR brazenly carrying out its activities
despite the people's objections, as expressed by Chief Donny Morris,
and the KI
Band Council, it
is doing so on land that holds the sacred burial grounds of the
community. These activities are in direct violation of the KI's
well-publicized moratorium on
mining exploration to protect
their land and hereditary and treaty rights.
The KI First Nation is demanding
that the government take immediate action to force GLR to stop
its activities as a condition of returning to talks.
support of the KI First Nation, Thunder Bay, March 20, 2008.
This is not the first time that the KI First Nation has
demanded that the McGuinty government intervene in illegal mining
activity on their territory. In 2008, the KI opposed the mining
company Platinex Inc. which had been doing exploration work on their
lands without the consent of the KI.
Far from doing its duty to prevent this illegal
activity and to
assist by finding a political solution to the problem of mining
monopolies operating on KI traditional territory, the government
oversaw the arrest and jailing of six members of the
Band Council, including Chief Morris, for their just resistance.
the Chief and Band Council members
and the entire community of more than 1,000 people stood up for their
government was forced to pay Platinex $5 million from the
public treasury in order to settle a lawsuit with the company stemming
from the government's failure to properly negotiate with the KI. This
similar to the First Nations' land reclamation in Caledonia, in which
the Ontario government paid more than $12.3 million to Henco Industries
in 2006 to buy out
their "investment" in aboriginal lands.
It would seem that nothing has changed. Speaking before
the recent Ontario Federation of Labour Convention, where he called on
the workers to support the KI's
just struggle, Chief Morris pointed out:
2008, just before we were jailed, Ontario promised
us a joint panel to resolve our outstanding issues with mining
companies. We are still waiting for them to honour that promise, yet
Ontario continues to permit mining companies to desecrate our
ancestors' graves. If First Nations don't have the right to say 'no' to
the desecration of a sacred area, then we have no rights at
The McGuinty government's refusal to act in good faith
with the KI First
gives a green light for mining
monopolies to encroach on their lands and shows once again that its
claims to seek a new relationship with First Nations are fraudulent. It
is another example that shows the McGuinty government
to be the defender of the "right" of mining monopolies to do as they
please in Ontario, at the expense of the interests of the First Nations
and their hereditary and treaty
rights, and those of the workers and people as well.
The well-being and future of the First Nations of
bound up with that of the working class and people of Ontario.
The brutal nineteenth century colonial outlook
of the McGuinty government which is the outlook of the racist Canadian
state, must be ended. The Ontario working class and its allies must
continue to intervene and stand with the KI and other First
Nations who are fighting to defend their rights, and together fight for
new political arrangements in Ontario
and Canada which establish modern relations between First Nations and
the rest of Canada based on recognizing their hereditary and treaty
rights as a starting point.
to Oppose Privatization
Concocted Hudak-McGuinty Drama
Covers Up Joint Aim to Attack the Workers
Protests across Ontario
against wage freezes for public sector workers, December 3, 2010. (OPSEU)
In order to interfere with the workers discussing a new
for the economy, PC Leader Tim Hudak and Premier Dalton McGuinty are
engaging in an elaborate drama in the media. To defuse the united
resistance of the Ontario workers to the anti-social offensive, Mr.
Hudak and the Ontario PC Caucus are
calling for a mandatory wage freeze that will hold the line on pay
increases for all government employees. Mr. Hudak fails to inform that
the McGuinty government has already imposed a two-year wage freeze on
350,000 non-union and management public sector workers through the Public
Public Services Act since its announcement in
the Ontario Budget in the spring of 2010.
Attacking the right to a livelihood that keeps up with
the rate of
inflation, ensuring benefits and pensions for workers and the middle
strata, both the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier say will
help solve the economic crisis in our province.
For his part, Mr McGuinty proclaims his loyalty to the
Ontario way --
imposing austerity measures through consultation with the unions, as he
attempted with marginal success in the fall of 2010. He retorts that he
has a seven-year plan that includes public expenditure restraints.
These restraints include lay-off notices recently issued
service employees. This
third major wave of layoff notices, brings the total close to 650 that
have been handed out in 2011. By March 2014, the McGuinty government
plans to cut a minimum of 5,000 public
service jobs. Recent interviews with Dwight Duncan, Minister of
Finance, suggest that cuts to various ministries may be as high as 33
According to the Ministry of Labour, as of October 25,
were 3,893 collective agreements covering 844,796 workers represented
by some 79 unions. Among the largest sectors are: primary and secondary
teachers (180,604 in five unions), school support workers (74,672 in
unions), Ontario Public
Service (50,893 in five unions), hospital nurses (53,264 in two
hospital support workers (85,507 in 16 unions), nursing home workers
(48,466 in 20 unions), community services workers (34,337 in 26 unions)
and municipal workers (70,289 in 11 unions).
Like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, McGuinty responds to the
Leader's attacks with the claim to be standing up for the "tax payer."
"I want to encourage my honourable colleague to take a look at, more
specifically, what we have done to date. We have not funded wage
increases for the public sector.
My honourable colleague will know that when it comes to negotiated
settlements by broader public sector employers, we have made it clear
to them that should they negotiate something beyond zero; we will not
in fact be funding that. They'll have to find those monies from within.
So we have, in fact, stood up
for taxpayers in that regard," McGuinty said, as if attacking public
service workers is not an attack on the public services themselves.
Since the spring of 2010, any negotiated settlements in
sectors that have resulted in wage increases beyond zero, have not been
backed by any funding from the McGuinty government.
The Ontario Opposition Leader also does not mention the
anti-worker activities in which the McGuinty government has already
engaged. The McGuinty government has denied the rights of thousands of
part-time college workers, while claiming to recognize their rights to
unionization and collective bargaining.
With the assistance of College administrators and the Ontario Labour
Relations Board, the Liberal government has ensured that unionization
does not happen by refusing to count the votes and has managed to
include these workers in the two-year wage freeze. This government has
revamped the Colleges Collective
Bargaining Act in order to provide arrangements for the college
employer to impose their offer rather than bargain in good faith.
Instead, Mr Hudak lectures Mr. McGuinty on how he can
the public workers. Now that the 2010 consultations with unionized
workers have taken place Mr. Hudak is declaring all-out war on the
those who provide the public services. He advises the Premier that
recent court rulings indicate that
the he can intervene with legislation and apply the Public Sector
Compensation Restraint to Protect Public Services Act, 2002 (Bill
29) to unionized public sector workers.
PC Deputy Leader Christine Elliot (MPP, Whitby-Oshawa)
out that there are a couple of court rulings that will facilitate Mr
McGuinty in imposing drastic measures for the public sector workers.
She is alluding to two recent Supreme Court rulings that strike down
the movement towards recognizing
collective bargaining rights under the Charter of Rights, in
which the Supreme Court ruled that the
Charter, specifically Section 2(d), does not impose duties on
others, such as the duty for employers to bargain in good
faith. MPP Elliott also noted that under the rulings a case
be made to override that section of the Charter if there is a
pressing and substantial fiscal emergency. The Ontario Government,
washing its hands of any responsibility to the working class, is using
these Supreme Court decisions to justify an all-out assault on
collective bargaining rights.
There are those who state that the McGuinty way during
was a soft shoe that wooed his liberal constituents amongst the
unionized workers, but this spin creates the illusion that there is a
way out of the crisis outside of the workers themselves deciding the
way forward for the economy based on their
demands for manufacturing not nation-wrecking, increased funding for
social programs, to stop paying the rich and resisting monopoly right.
A new direction for the economy needs to be set. The
ongoing performance of Hudak and
McGuinty is to make sure the workers and people of Ontario never take
up the defence of their right to decide their living and working
The organization of public services, how they are
delivered, and how
the value they create or require is distributed and priced is a
political issue. A socially responsible human-centred view would be
that all economic activity must be organized without bailing out the
rich and lining the
financiers' pockets at everyone's expense.
City Workers' Fight for Job Security Blocks
As the labour contracts of
more than 20,000 municipal
workers in Toronto are about to expire on December 31, the Rob Ford
is determined to smash the job security provisions municipal workers
have in their current contract. The monopoly media, the Ford brothers
and their allies on Council are characterizing
it as a "showdown."
These workers are attacked for having working conditions
that enable them to ensure society's well-being through the provision
of public services and provide them some measure of job security. In
the most brutal and uncouth way municipal workers are
being described as fat-cat public sector employees, out of touch with
reality, with cushy jobs and the unrealistic expectation of "jobs for
life". Any worker with any job security provisions in their contract
should be very concerned. The base-line the Ford
administration is out to impose is one where workers are unorganized,
fending for themselves with low wages, no benefits and no job security
Municipal workers provide extremely valuable service and
infrastructure vital to the functioning of the economy. The economy of
the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) could not operate without the work they
do: from public transit to
garbage removal to cleaning the streets and all the other socially
necessary work they perform. Municipal workers
are an integral and necessary part of our modern socialized economy.
the demand of municipal workers for their job security is to
accelerate the privatization of public services along with outright
elimination of programs, services and the jobs of the public sector
workers providing them.
The workers' fight to maintain the job security
provisions of the current contract is thus
a block to the agenda of the rich
minority that Ford represents to privatize municipal services. The
current contract language limits the
ability of the municipal government to contract out and privatize
delivery of services because it requires the employer
to relocate workers displaced by contracting out to another job. This
is why the Ford administration is so keen on a "showdown."
Municipal governments around the province are closely
following what is happening in Toronto because it is in Toronto that
the stage is being set to move full-steam ahead with the privatization
of public services.
City to Eliminate 2,338 Jobs
On November 30, Toronto city
council moved to eliminate
2,338 jobs from its operations, as called for in the city's proposed
budget released November 28. Of these positions, 1,148 are presently
vacant while the other 1,190 are employees who will be laid off. Of the
latter, 666 are unionized workers and 48
are supervisors in city divisions. Another 476 employees at the city's
agencies, boards and commissions will lose their jobs -- 152 workers at
the public libraries and 324 at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) --
and 411 unfilled jobs are being eliminated. The full weight of these
measures will fall upon some
of the many city workers who are temporary and have little job security
As can be seen, the degrading and wrecking of public
services and programs goes hand in hand with discarding the workers who
provide them and the destruction of their livelihoods. The big media
and Ford regime hype about fiscal crisis, lack of money, and claims of
"respect for taxpayers" continues as the
pretext for all the anti-social measures being implemented, including
this job elimination. Over the course of the Ford regime's first year
and now with the appearance of its second budget, these pretexts have
been exposed as frauds and not very sophisticated ones. For their part
at the cutting edge of the neo-liberal
offensive led in Canada by Stephen Harper's government, the project of
those in power in Toronto is to put at the disposal of monopoly
interest what wealth yet remains in the public sphere as property,
social programs and services, and remuneration of workers.
There are those who say this budget is not so bad, that
it could have been much worse and that these layoffs only affect
several hundred of some 50,000 city employees. Such a stand conciliates
with this anti-social agenda, recognizing only monopoly right. On the
1. These cuts are taking
place when the task facing
society is to expand social services and programs to meet the needs and
fulfill the rights of all, employing workers to achieve this pro-social
agenda. It is not just a matter of saving part or even all of the
previous status quo.
2. For the people of Toronto who are the actual targets
Ford regime's measures, an injury to one is indeed an injury to all.
Whether the job loss is of one worker in a thousand or each one of the
tens of thousands of workers the Ford regime considers superfluous, the
impact will be devastating. It is by uniting
and resisting the city-wrecking agenda, whether its target at the
moment is hundreds or tens of thousands of city workers, that it can be
3. The elimination of 1,148 empty positions is not such
a small matter either. A temporary failure to employ workers to provide
programs and services is being made permanent, resulting in many more
workers being deprived of a livelihood than under previous
society is deprived of the product
of their labour.
4. These are still initial steps for a regime that
thinks "everything that's not nailed down" should be sold off, cut or
privatized, that many thousands of city workers should be eliminated
and that employee pay and benefits should not exceed 20 per cent of the
budget. These initial steps cannot be separated from
what lies ahead in the grand anti-social designs of the Ford
The Ford regime again stands condemned, in this case for
destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and degrading or
destroying the services and programs they provide. Let this shameful
deed be an impulse to the people of Toronto's resistance, to develop it
and persist until this anti-social agenda is
Proposed 2012 Budget
On November 28, the City of Toronto's proposed capital
and operating budgets for 2012 were presented to city council. After
various hearings and other meetings, city council will consider final
approval on January 17 to 19. The separate budgets for Toronto Water
Solid Waste were presented November 10
and approved on November 28.
The 2012 operating budget which, unlike the capital
budget, must be balanced without borrowing, has been the focus of the
Ford regime's assertions of a $774 million fiscal crisis requiring
cuts, sell offs, layoffs and privatization.
In the less than transparent budget papers made public
on November 28, $355 million of the monies calculated to eliminate the
purported $774 million budget shortfall are labelled: "Base Budget
Adjustments and Efficiencies" and "Service Adjustments." This sum is
pointedly identified as the result of the 10 per
cent budget cut targets imposed on all departments, except the police.
Elsewhere, these budget reductions are cited as eliminating 2,338 city
The $88 million of this sum labelled "Service
Adjustments" includes the cuts to a variety of services, among them:
the TTC, which is reducing service on 62 routes; the public library
system, which is cutting hours, acquisitions and jobs; shelter and
housing, with three homeless shelters being closed; Parks and
Recreation, with cuts to sports and recreation facilities and programs;
the ambulance service, where the hiring of 36 paramedics has been
deferred; the fire department, where the hiring of 68 fire fighters has
been deferred; $2.5 million less will go to the "social services"
category; long term care homes will receive
$1.05 million less; three day care facilities will close; and school
breakfasts for poor children are being eliminated.
Balancing this proposed operating budget also includes
raising funds through increased user fees, in particular an increase to
TTC fares, and a 2.5 per cent property tax increase.
In spite of the regime's constant fear mongering about a
fiscal crisis, it turns out 2011 has produced an operating budget
surplus of $139 million and probably much more. This sum, which could
have been used to avoid the listed cuts, has instead been in part set
aside in a "tax stabilization fund" and in part used
to pay back the city's debt.
The monopoly media has in most cases praised this
budget, calling it "good medicine," "hardly Armageddon," "a necessary
first step" and "restraint without crushing cuts." The Toronto Star,
budget with a slight spending reduction.
It went on to criticize the cuts but in the end merely called for
resistance to "the worst of his service cuts" and only on the part
of councillors "who don't share Ford's delusion that this is 'exactly
what the taxpayers demanded.'"
As retrograde as this budget is with respect to cuts to
jobs, programs and services, the most important issue about it is the
principle it reveals as its basis. It utterly rejects the duty
governments, in this case the municipal government, have to uphold the
rights and well-being of the people. The underlying aim here
is implementation of the anti-social austerity agenda of the
monopolies, thinly disguised by the "respect for taxpayers" mantra.
Social services and programs may be cut or to some extent survive for
the moment, but the aim of the administration behind the budget is
something other than meeting society's needs and
upholding the rights and well-being of the people.
That "something else" is the priorities of private
monopoly interests, put forth through such mechanisms
as the G8/G20, the IMF and "free" trade agreements and adopted by the
various levels of Canadian government in the name of being "open for
business," "competitive" or "fiscally responsible,"
etc.The Toronto Sun editorial reference to this budget as "a
good first step" should serve as a warning if someone feels relieved
that its provisions are not as bad as they could have been. There is
nothing whatsoever in it that indicates an end to this regime's
Far from it. The main assault on the
workers providing the public programs and services is fast approaching
as their contract is set to expire. The aim of this assault is to clear
the way to further advance the regime's
Ford/McGuinty Public Transit Privatization Agenda
The Toronto Transit
Commission (TTC) announced last week
a series of broad service reductions. This degradation of public
transit service is a result of funding cuts by Mayor Rob Ford's
administration and provincial underfunding by the Ontario McGuinty
government. The TTC has also cut 350 staff positions
as a result of the lack of city and provincial funding. This is the
latest in a series of attacks over the last two years by the monopoly
media and city and provincial politicians on the TTC workers and on the
entire TTC as a public service. These attacks have been stepped up
since Ford became mayor just over a year
ago but it is not just conservative politicians who are involved.
Transit workers have borne the brunt of this
orchestrated campaign. It includes the most offensive kinds of personal
slander of individual TTC workers in the media aimed at criminalizing
TTC workers collectively as well as their union. In one incident
pictures of a worker on light duty recovering after a heart
attack were splashed on front pages of newspapers as alleged proof that
TTC workers "sleep on the job." Many such stories were circulated to
prepare conditions for stripping away TTC workers' right to strike. As
soon as Ford was elected, in the midst of this anti-worker media
hysteria, McGuinty and Ford collaborated
to proclaim the TTC an essential service and declared TTC workers'
This campaign has also targeted the entire TTC as a
public service. One aspect of this was asserting provincial control
over this municipal service by withholding and manipulating provincial
funding transfers to the TTC. The McGuinty government used this control
to force the city administration and TTC to
include the Ontario Crown corporation Metrolinx in Transit City, the
TTC's long range transit expansion plan. After being elected, Mayor
Ford with Premier McGuinty worked out a deal to smash Transit City and
replace it with an $8.2 billion cross-town subway plan under Metrolinx
control and a plan to extend
the Sheppard subway under the control of Ford and a group of land
In recent days, what lies behind all of these attacks on
the TTC workers and the public service they operate has become clearer.
On November 9, McGuinty and Ford staged a joint press conference at a
site on the cross-town subway line to raise the media profile of the
new subway. Since then officials in the
McGuinty government have been issuing statements suggesting that the
cross-town subway line will be built and possibly operated as a
public-private-partnership project, what they call Alternative
Financing and Procurement (AFP). Ford and his appointed chair on the
TTC board Karen Stintz have come right
out with a call for the cross-town line to be privatized. Metrolinx CEO
Bruce McCuaig spoke out for the cross-town line being built as an AFP,
as did the Minister of Infrastructure Bob Chiarelli (who was also just
appointed Minister of Transportation).
For 60 years, the TTC has
designed, built and operated
subways and has over 100 years experience in streetcar systems. It has
been a key city-building institution. Until it started being degraded
in the Harris years, Toronto's system was widely considered one of the
best in the world. Now, under the hoax that
the private sector has superior "expertise" and "efficiency," the TTC
is being swept out of the subway/light rail transit expansion project
to make room for international financial, engineering and construction
monopolies whose aim is to make a big score.
The reason for the urgency of the McGuinty and Ford
administrations to criminalize transit workers and to tie their hands
by outlawing strikes is also now plain to see. They want transit
workers in a position where they cannot resist any of the schemes being
cooked up with the infrastructure and privatized services
monopolies. Ford and McGuinty want the transit workers' struggle for
their livelihood and rights sidelined so they cannot play their role at
the centre of the struggle to oppose privatization and to defend public
Public Transit Cuts Coming in January
At a time when improvement of Toronto's public transit
is needed to ease crowding and reduce waits, the board of the Toronto
Transit Commission (TTC) has decided to reduce service on 62 routes
effective January 8. Many of these reductions affect rush hour service
on the busiest routes. The information initially became public through
a leaked memo on November 24 and was then confirmed by the TTC. As well
as degrading the service, the measures will lead to further job losses.
A fare increase is also expected in the near future.
The TTC board's decision is presented as a response to
the city administration's demand that all departments reduce their
budgets by 10 per cent because of a supposed fiscal crisis and the
false assertion that there is no money, no alternative. A board
decision earlier this fall to eliminate several routes for the
same reasons was withdrawn in the face of public anger. But when these
anti-social warriors in power suffer a setback, they look for other
means to achieve the same aims, hence, these service cuts.
Good public transit available to all is an essential
part of the well-being and rights of the people in modern society,
especially in a city as large as Toronto and its surrounding urban
region. In addition, it provides a significant service to businesses by
delivering many employees to their places of work, transportation
paid for through public funds and fares. The TTC currently provides
about 500 million rides per year and a large number of its users have
no practical alternative -- they do not own cars and cannot afford
taxis. For society, the economy and the natural environment, increased
use of good public transit also counteracts
the already dire consequences of mass dependence on motor cars; traffic
congestion, air pollution and other environmental damage.
Similar to other social services, a pro-social agenda
for public transit would require considerable expansion of the service,
employment of workers for that purpose, and freezing and then reducing
fares toward a nominal amount, so that transportation needs
are fully provided to all by right and the natural
environment is protected. It would necessarily reject the anti-social
spin of the monopoly interests that "there is no money," and move to
appropriate the necessary wealth on the basis that the claims of the
workers who produce it and the claims of society for social services
and programs and the well-being of all
come before the claims of the monopolies and owners of capital.
The monopoly interests, their think tanks, media and the
various levels of government at their service are headed in the
opposite direction, as this TTC decision shows. Depriving social
services like public transit of funding is part of the agenda to
advance monopoly interest at the expense of society, to hand over
to it what has remained public, to "pay the rich." This involves more
than diverting funds from public transit to pay the rich in the name of
deficit reduction and via lower taxes on the rich and their monopolies.
Public transit in York Region is already in the hands of private
monopolies. The course set by international
bodies like the G8/G20 and through "free" trade agreements and adopted
by the various levels of government favours privatization of the TTC
and other public services.
In the case of privatized "public" transit, not only
must the service and workers' remuneration be funded, but private
monopoly profit as well. This will come from degrading the service
(less frequent buses, crowding, elimination of less profitable routes,
failing to expand sufficiently to meet need), increasing
fares and lower pay and benefits (i.e. more fare income in relation to
lower labour remuneration) and from what will still come from
governments. These TTC decisions degrading the service, planning fare
increases, eliminating jobs, contracting out work short of
privatization and the violation of TTC workers' rights
are all in line with the threat of privatization. What is being done to
Toronto's public transit is an issue for the growing resistance to the
anti-social agenda of Mayor Ford's regime.
Toronto Needs More Child Care Centres!
Mayor Rob Ford's plan to close City of Toronto child
care centres in
2012 is outrageous and totally unacceptable to Toronto's working
people. The city budget presented on November 28 calls for closing
three centres, with a loss of 100 child care spaces. Toronto needs
thousands more child care spaces, not
less. There are only enough spaces now for one out of every five
children. Closing child care centres when the need of Toronto's workers
for child care services is so great shows that this administration is
completely irresponsible regarding people's needs and is unfit to
govern a modern city.
Governments at all levels have a duty to put in place
ensuring people's rights and well-being. This includes providing high
quality child care and early learning services so men and women can
earn a living, regardless of their status as a parent. Federal and
provincial governments as well as municipal
governments have shirked this responsibility. The Harper government has
declared that women "should stay home and take care of their own kids"
and diverted $9 billion from provincial child care transfers into its
politically motivated baby bonus. Ontario legislation provides for
child care centre subsidies and child
care fee subsidies for low-income families but the McGuinty government
stubbornly refuses to fund these subsidies.
All three proposed child care centre closings show a
disregard for the needs of the working people who rely on them, but one
stands out in particular for its irresponsibility, the closing of
Greenholme-Albion Child Care Centre. This child care centre is located
in the St. Jamestown neighbourhood, where
most residents are workers earning low wages. This neighbourhood is one
of the poorest in the city and faces many challenges. There is an acute
need for programs for children, youth and families and other social
programs. But instead of providing resources to solve problems, the
city instead provides Toronto Police
Services with millions of dollars every year to terrorize the many
national minority youth living there. In an infamous raid in 2006, a
force of 600 police occupied and carried out a house-to-house search of
the entire neighbourhood. At a cost of $600,000 the police payroll for
this one raid would be enough to run
three day-care centres for a year.
The Ford administration claims that the centres that are
closed are not "viable" because they have empty spaces as a result of
the transfer of four-year olds to the new full-day kindergarten
programs. Lots of problems were caused by McGuinty rushing full-day
kindergarten through to suit his re-election
schedule. But the city could easily solve the problem of empty spaces
by converting these into toddler and infant spaces. Toronto is
desperately short of toddler and infant spaces and there is a long
waiting list for them. Ford doesn't want to place younger children in
the spots though, because this would mean hiring
more day care workers to meet child/staff ratio requirements. Ford only
wants to slash jobs not solve the problems people face.
Empty spaces could also be
filled by providing
low-income child care
subsidies. There are 20,000 eligible families on the city's child care
subsidy waiting list. In Toronto half of the families with children are
lower income families. A child care system that excludes most Toronto
families because of a lack of
subsidies is not sustainable. But rather than meeting this need, the
city has scheduled cuts to child care subsidies starting in 2012. The
provincial government shares the blame for the scheduled cuts because
It is becoming obvious that Toronto's child care
services are being
deliberately and systematically degraded. This degradation serves the
agenda of opening investment space for the rich in the public sector.
A standard pattern is for governments to degrade a
until there is a crisis and then to call in the private sector to "fix
it." As governments degrade the system, international monopolies
involved in privatized child care are preparing for expansion in
One of these is Edleun Inc. which as been aggressively
child care centres in Alberta and BC. Edleun has been provided with a
huge capital fund by Canadian and international bankers for expansion
in Ontario. John Snobelen was appointed as a
director of Edleun to facilitate
this. Snobelen was Minister of Education in the Harris government and
is currently running for President of the Ontario Progressive
Conservative Party. Many studies have shown that the profits of private
child care monopolies come from reduced quality of care, reduced
accessibility and reduced wages for child
Throughout the city budget process, thousands of
women and men have spoken out for increased access to child care
services, against child care cuts and privatization. This includes
participating in the massive rallies and marches organized by Toronto's
public sector workers, whose struggle
in defence of their livelihoods is central to the defence of public
services. During the recent Ontario election, access for all to child
care was raised as an issue by workers, especially by women workers, in
communities across the province. The Ford administration and the
McGuinty government are exposing their
political bankruptcy by refusing to meet these demands and persisting
in their course of cuts to public services and expanding privatization.
The task for working women and men is to build a
powerful Workers' Opposition which can set a new direction for the city
and for Ontario,
which can hold the governments to account for ensuring people's rights.
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