City council has just voted 34–11 in favour of bringing in third party consultants to review City services—a move which some describe as a long overdue opportunity to assess how Toronto is managing its business post-amalgamation, and which many others believe will provide Rob Ford with a ready-made list of services to cut in the 2012 budget process. Council already set aside three million dollars for this effort, making the outcome of today’s vote in many respects a foregone conclusion, but debate on the issue raged most of the day, with many councillors fighting hard against what they see as the first step in a road to dismantling many public services they and their residents value.
One of the most contentious parts of the debates was over an amendment suggested by councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park), which called for adding three words to the proposal. Those words? “Maintain service levels.” Adding them would have looked like this:
City Council request the City Manager to actively manage the City’s staff complement to maximize the use of City resources, maintain service levels and contain costs.
Council rejected this amendment 16–28.
- An amendment by Councillor Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth), asking that the assumptions made by the consultants in deciding on any service change recommendations (e.g. whether they’d assume that the private sector delivers a certain service more cheaply, or provide case studies that demonstrated this was so) be included in the information provided to councillors.
- An amendment by Councillor Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) that contact information for the consultants be made available to councillors should they have questions about the review.
- An amendment by Councillor Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) to ensure that the City’s agencies and boards would “have the opportunity to review and consider the findings” of the service review.
The version of the motion that council began with can be seen here [PDF]. Some amendments did pass—specifically ones calling for scheduling changes to accommodate Jewish holidays, and for public consultations—and we’ll post an updated copy of the final version of the motion that passed as soon as it is available online.