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Friday, October 14, 2016

Matthew Lau: Your city isn’t really even trying to save money

t seems that in Toronto, many voters are finally warming up to some small amount of government belt-tightening. According to a Forum Research poll earlier this month, 54 per cent of Torontonians support Mayor John Tory’s request that all city departments and agencies reduce their budgets by 2.6 per cent, while only 30 per cent are opposed. The Toronto Star reacted to the poll with this headline: “Poll finds support for Mayor Tory’s budget austerity.” But while 2.6 per cent in cuts might be a good first step, it is hardly austerity. Not when we could be slashing the size of the municipal government by 10, 15, or 35 per cent.

Take the issue of municipal employee compensation. Last year, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) published a report comparing public sector and private sector wages, salaries, and benefits. CFIB found that, on average, municipal government employees in Toronto were being compensated 25.9 per cent more than comparable private sector workers. With wages, salaries, and benefits accounting for just over half of the City of Toronto’s expenditures, the math suggests that the operating budget would be cut by 10.4 per cent if municipal employee compensation were brought in line with private sector standards...

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