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City of Toronto offers buyouts to almost 50,000 workers

Posted by Derek Flack / July 12, 2011

City of Toronto BuyoutIn yet another measure to reduce the 2012 budget, the City of Toronto has offered buyout packages to almost 50,000 of its workers, who have until September 9th to apply online for what's being called the Voluntary Separation Program. According to a memo obtained by the Globe and Mail, union members are eligible for three weeks pay for each year they've been employed by the city up to a maximum of six months salary. Those who hold management positions are offered four weeks of pay per year.

In an effort to extend the cost savings of the program in the long term, should an employee take the offer, his or her position will eliminated permanently. How exactly this provision will play out if scores of staff participate in the program remains unclear. As Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam noted on Twitter last night, "A city can't work without city workers!"

City Council will vote on the buyout packages in late September.

Photo by squirrel brand in the blogTO Flickr pool.



Bravo / July 12, 2011 at 09:39 am
Mayor Ford is awesome!!! Keep it up!
ship of fools / July 12, 2011 at 09:42 am
yeah, nice plan.
those who are young, talented, smart and able will leave the sinking ship, take the package, a vacation and find employment elsewhere.
those who are not so young, not so talented, not so smart and not so able will stay right where they are - for fear of not finding a good job again.
this city is f'ed.
Gravy / July 12, 2011 at 09:42 am
Where the heck is the gravy we were promised. I was told it was dripping from the ceilings in city hall, and even the walls were sweating gravy. Come on show me the gravy!
Matt / July 12, 2011 at 09:45 am
You can't just cut cut cut.. the cost of cutting jobs you will likely just bring back in a few years is higher than the savings.
Paul / July 12, 2011 at 09:49 am
Is someone keeping track of how many millions of dollars Rob Ford has pissed away with nothing to show for it? Seems like the man and his team of lapdogs has spent more on cancelling programs and tearing things down than his predecessors ever did building them up. Of course the innumerate hordes who voted for him still think he's a financial genius.
John / July 12, 2011 at 10:07 am
Yes, that's a plan. Pay staff to leave and then pay new contracted staff to come on board. And the savings are...???? Rob Ford can't even trim his own fat (on his gut). Government is not the problem people, corporations are the ones sending your money abroad. Wake UP!
Alex replying to a comment from Bravo / July 12, 2011 at 10:08 am
You're kidding, right? I mean, for one thing, the commenter below you ("ship of fools") makes an excellent point that the employees most likely to stay are the ones not useful or qualified enough to find employment elsewhere, so this is hardly a boon to the city's efficiency in operation. Secondly, what happens if TOO MANY city workers accept the buyout? This is very vaguely targeted and (like everything that the Ford administration does) not especially well-thought-out. If too many city staff walk away, or if the buyout takes hold in more focused areas than originally intended, then the City is left understaffed and needing to hire new staff, despite their claims to the contrary. And, when that happens (because it logically almost definitely will), you have TWO concurrent salaries being paid for one position.

Ugh. You Ford people. Is there any populist BS you won't swallow?
Dave replying to a comment from Paul / July 12, 2011 at 10:14 am
Keeping track? I would like to see someone make an effort to uncover some numbers in the first place!

I still don't understand how Transit City has been cancelled, without consulting Council, but apparently it has. We know that the city was on the hook for tens or millions of dollars stemming from that, but lets see the numbers.

Journalists? Activists? Lawyers? Help!
Kieren replying to a comment from Dave / July 12, 2011 at 11:03 am
The simple response is that those who support him are louder than those who don't. Populism is a scary thing, my friend.
Ryan L. / July 12, 2011 at 11:04 am
Little tidbit: Canada post did this the last time they had a labour dispute. Why didn't they do it again this time? Well, because they ended up having <b>far</b> too many people take them up on their offer and ended up suffering huge shortages in labour.

When the city makes this offer they know that most people aren't going to take it. So in order to get the numbers they are expecting they offer it to a much larger group. As Canada post found out, this is a dangerous game to play.
PALGOLAK / July 12, 2011 at 11:45 am
Unless they are very close to retirement, City workers would be crazy to take the buyout.
Josh / July 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm
Why do I get the sense that by the end of Ford's term, Toronto is going to look like Hill Valley circa 1985A.
steve replying to a comment from Josh / July 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm
Hamilton circa 2011.
That's what a populist run city looks like. And they still do not see the problem. As long as the suburban middle and upper class have their homes, cars and big box stores nothing else matters. They will continue to vote for people like Rob Ford.
auditorydamage / July 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm
Y'know, maybe it wasn't a bright idea to cut revenue sources before attempting to reduce expenditures.

Rely more on landfills? Stop the expansion of bike lanes? Contract out more work, thus transferring work and taxpayer dollars to lower-paid employees with fewer benefits who can then contribute even less back into the overall economy? End water fluoridation? Is this seriously the best the consultants could come up with? Is this seriously what our supposed budget hawk of a mayor missed over his years on council, hectoring everyone else about expenditures? This, at best, won't even close this year's budget gap.

News flash: this is a city of millions of people, who demand and require a wide array of services. It's expensive. Expect to spend money on infrastructure and good services so that individuals and organizations can build upon that base for greater economic expansion and benefit. Improving the efficiency of service delivery is one thing, and offering buyouts to employees isn't the worst way in the world to reduce staffing levels, but this doesn't sound like it was planned properly in advance. Council won't even get a chance to review the plan until it's already well in progress, and if it's as well-designed as the rest of Ford's proposals, it will backfire. His judgment, in general, has proven to be horrible (drunken, boorish behaviour at a Leafs game? DUI? actively ignoring one of the city's most popular festivals? tossing aside an entire transit plan so he can have a subway... that he's not sure how to even pay for? just to name a few incidents). That 50% of the people who turned up to vote had no problem choosing a guy with that track record to the top decision-making job in town makes me grimace, but I'll muddle through the next few years. I have a running bet with myself regarding the state of the city by the end of Ford's current term. For the sake of us all, I hope to lose.
Terry / July 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm
$350,000 paid to consultant to tell us what we already know. How much will the buyout packages cost? And then, when we need to hire workers back? Thanks, Rob and Doug for creating problems that don't exist, and then making the citizens pay through the nose for it.
Rob Ford / July 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm
Stop disagreeing with my vision!

I am sure you will all agree that it is better to cut things like a measly vehicle tax than it is to employ 50 000 of your fellow citizens!

*This message has been brought to you by Rob Ford.
Matt replying to a comment from Josh / July 12, 2011 at 01:27 pm
I had that same thought today. "Great scott!".
Jack / July 12, 2011 at 05:53 pm
This KPMG report was authorized under David Millers watch. What an idiot Miller was...

Rob knows you what KPMG doesn't. You need to cut the fat, not get rid of tiny things like cutting snow plows from the end of driveways.
realityCheck / July 12, 2011 at 07:12 pm
Nobody likes to see jobs lost. That said, what needs to be asked is why Toronto has MORE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES PER CAPITA (BY FAR) THAN ANY OTHER CITY IN CANADA? Ford is an idiot... but the City has way too much staff for what it is doing.
K. / July 12, 2011 at 08:36 pm
Lots of facts and figures being bandied about, please cite your sources people.
smartercommunities / July 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm
City staff who are skilled and competent will leave, because they are marketable elsewhere, and all of the staff who are under-performers and can't get jobs elsewhere will be left...

The City will take a long time to recover from the damage done by Ford and his Executive Committee.

Wonder why your 311 calls are not being answered? It's because graffiti complaints are taking up hundreds of hours of staff time (311 customer service staff, senior management in different departments, frontline staff, etc...) - what a great way to address city priorities! Waste it on graffiti while other important issues are ignored...

Toronto is suffering because of these idiots.. We need other Councillors to stand up and be the stewards we need for the City!
kn / July 13, 2011 at 12:05 am
Here is a good fact for you. Adam Vaughn who still seems to be living in 1974, when politicians didn't think governments needed to worry about paying deficits, is proposing to 'revitalize' Atkinson co-op, a public housing complex in the centre of the city. The proposal entails giving away 100's of millions of dollars of prime city land to condo developers so the city can rebuild a public housing complex which, after only 40 years, needs to be torn down due to mismanagement and resident abuse. Each one of these new townhomes on the 'real' market would be worth 700- 800,000 dollars each - minimum. And there is not just a couple of these townhomes, there are hundreds. Want to live in 800,000 dollar townhome in the middle of Toronto, have your grass cut, property maintained and your own multimillion dollar community centre? Apply for public housing! If you make too much money you can only buy a condo half the size fronting onto Dundas. SORRY.
gadfly / July 13, 2011 at 07:09 am
Question: have any of you self-appointed experts actually had to deal with any of these highly qualified city workers? Have you ever tried to get anything DONE? The degree of laziness and entitlement is a cancer that is rotting the city from the inside out. Most of these people who will take these packages get upwards of 6 weeks vacation every year, so they are really halfway out the door anyway. (Really, if you can be away from your job for 6 weeks in a year, then you aren't needed.)
Whether it's postal workers, TTC employees, city or Queen's Park officials, the disease is the same. I have seen many of their credit applications and its scary what these people make. Their attitudes suck when you have to deal with them on and they are the 'client,' and if you try to get them to actually do their job at their end, it's an exercise in beating a dead horse. There is something about working for the government. Maybe it's the water, maybe it's the union mentality, but the hew hires with their ambition and drive just have the marrow sucked out of them within a few years. Cut out the old rot and save the tree.
Unfortunately, there won't be any immediate cost savings by making this offer, and it will surely require a lot of re-arranging of departments to fill in the blanks, but I guarantee that if done properly we won't miss one bit of 'service' from the city. It will also put the rest of the workers on notice that things are going to be different. You see, those employees who constantly bitch about how stressed they are and how over-worked - well, just think about how much better that office or department would be with those whiners gone. Everyone else can actually get on with their jobs.
It's possible that the job losses may have a small impact on the local economy, but some of these people will already have something else lined up before they take the package (that is, if the private sector would hire them, I know I wouldn't), but you have to ask yourself this question: how many of them actually live in Toronto anyway?
Since this crowd hates everything and anything to do with the filthy 905ers and their ilk, you guys should be thrilled. Quite a few of these entitled workers don't even live in the city they work for.
steve replying to a comment from gadfly / July 13, 2011 at 07:49 am
I am willing to listen and weigh anything said as long as it is reasoned. Your rant is not reasoned. You make claims based on what you think, the tried and true 'you work for the government or a tax paid service therefore they are lazy'.
You have nothing to go on but the idea someone makes more then you do.
You are the whiner, bitter, with childish tantrums because you can't get what you want. So you rant about taking it away from others.
Time to grow up live with what you got. taking from others is not going to give you want you think you deserve.
Billy Walsh replying to a comment from steve / July 13, 2011 at 08:21 am
"Time to grow up and live with what you got." Agreed. What we have is an almost $800 million dollar shortfall time to grow up and live with a lot less city.
CMBSmith / July 13, 2011 at 11:26 am
The vagueness of this offer bothers me. What happens if downtown loses more worker than Scarborough? What if North York workers get saddled with picking up East York's garbage? I agree the City cannot keep running a deficit, but I also agree with Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam that a city doesn't run without workers. You can't just slash and burn with an organism as vast and complex as the City of Toronto, especially since amalgamation. And maybe that is the heart of the issue. Downtown got stuck with the suburbs' choice of mayor and now we all have to live with the consequences for the next 4 years.
I Love Toronto / August 11, 2011 at 05:46 pm
NO MORE BUILDING. So many people are critizing the city's maintenance budget. The City of Toronto is constantly expanding, "improving and upgrading" services. The City is currently building and upgrading many parks and services, facilities and other things of this matter. If the City reduced the expansion and improvement funds, they budget could be drastically reduced without any effect on CURRENT services. Also, I like how the policy or worker reduction is reversed and instead of starting from the TOP they start from the BOTTOM. THE CITY MANAGER MAKES $313,000 A YEAR. DIRECTORS AROUND $140,000, COMPARED TO A COUNCILLOR: $99,900(2010). The directors, managers, and "City Manager" ARE OVERPAID. Many highly educated well qualified people will take these positions for much less. MAX 109,00-120,00 (Director), 185,00-215,000 (City Manager). TONS OF QUALIFIED, EDUCATED PEOPLE.
james / October 9, 2011 at 03:46 pm
I think Rob Ford is overpaid at 170,000 a year but that'e my take on things.
Any goof can cut services and and raise taxes.
For the so called great businessmen the Ford brothers claim to be I have yet to see that claim proven so far.

dan / October 9, 2011 at 04:01 pm
Well ( I Love Toronto ) I think you knew how this was going to go down before Mr.Ford even got in to office.
It is always the people on the lower scale who get the shaft , because there are more of them and it sure didn't take much to convince people that just about all city employees are lazy and are paid too much with no mention of what those people actually do to keep the city running.
All he had to say was gravy train and people flocked to put an x to Mr>Fords name for mayor.
But reality has come home to most people and there is no gravy train other than the gravy enjoyed by the upper middle and lower management, and there are so many of them you would be shocked to know the numbers.
Nothing is going to change there but ironically none of them are unionized and could be replaced or have their pay brought back to earth.
This is not going to happen because Rob Ford does not know what he is doing and is just a wind bag.
Were he could make real change he seems to leave those employees alone as if they are sacred cows, go figure.
John / February 17, 2013 at 07:22 am
The problem is big corporations and government that support these greedy ......... And the government does not care about about creating jobs. If you need proof, look at Hudak and Harper. Harper is a two faced liar, and it is his year, the year of the snake. And Hudak would have have all the poor and unfortunate in Ontario on the streets.

When ford discussed cutting the gravy train, what he reaally meant was cutting programs like after school programs, and he he done just that. Ford has demonstrated time and again that he is arrogant and does not care. And when he missappropriated funds for his football team, did he not prove that? What burns me are the people that voted for this weasel, and now, they are the same ones belly aching. Want to trim the fat, trim his job in the next election.

But we have capatalism, and for the system to work, you need the devision of rich and poor. Charles Darwin summed it up best "Survival Of The fittest"
John / February 17, 2013 at 07:44 am
Dan, actually you had the most intelligable statement. You said 'its is always the people on the low end of the scale that get the shaft' and that is true. But don't make the mistake and say Ford doesn't know what he is doing, because he does. Ford is just arrogant and does not care.

You need to remember that the vast majority of voters in Ontario and Toronto are not well versed in politics and will vote for anyone of these ..... intellects that says something that appeals to them. They do not look at teh party and what these ........ represent.

A good case in point would be in the mid to late 90s when Harris was premeir of Ontario. Everyone liked what he said and voted for him. And everyone suffered, especially the less fortunate. And Hudak represents that same mentality.
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