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Duly Quoted: Rob Ford

“The last thing we want to do is lay off…but when [labour] makes up 80 per cent of your budget, there’s a lot of gravy there, there’s a lot of people. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough work to go around.”
—Rob Ford, speaking with AM640′s John Oakley this morning, about the imbalance he perceives in the City’s budget when compared with the standards set by business. He went on to suggest that the City should spend no more than 20 per cent of its budget on labour costs, or one-quarter of what it spends currently.


  • Aric Guité

    Christ, what an asshole.

  • Life Post-Shaggy

    Would the 20% goal basically apply to “City Council and the Mayor's office?”

  • Chris A

    I say assess each City Councilor's spending before you “reluctantly” lay off all these city workers.  Take a look at the Councilors who are running their offices more efficiently than others.  Re-evaluate who needs what, and how many employees they need.  If anything, I was hoping Rob Ford would look at the wasteful spending by politicians.  Instead, we're wasting money on low-priority issues like the Jarvis bike lanes, and getting rid of good paying jobs that help establish a proper middle class and a healthy economy.

  • Paul Hollingsworth

    There are only 2 ways to attain a goal of 20% of a government's costs on labour. The first is to basically contract out absolutely everything except of contract signing. The second is to just flagrantly ignore what city is legally responsible for doing as a city. He'd better start by handing the police to The RCMP and the TTC to the province if he's going to get anywhere on his crazy plan.
    Toronto will gutted like Detroit by the end of this.

  • Ryan White

    I'm not sure I understand what other function city government (for an established city) has other than “labor”. Think about your daily life in toronto, stop light, street lights, roads, tickets, building permits.. the list is huge and 3M people need to have someone to call for every service. Using a phrase like 20% is naive and doesn't take into account reality.

  • Kevin

    Perhaps there are councilors who are running their offices inefficiently. But I'd be skeptical of any info we get about that since there's a definte possibility that the Fords run efficient offices by spending personal money from the business they inherited. I don't want a government run by people who need loads of family money just to get in the door.

  • Rocker

    Yeah, and Ford doesn't provide proof that that 80% doesn't have enough work to go around. And where does the 20% number come from? Is that a business norm?

  • leslieville

    It seems like that radio station that Ford was on is reall yjust a sounding board for anything he wants to say.
    Getting labout costs to 20% is unrealistic. But then claiming they are 80% of the budget is also inaccurate, as they make up ~48% of the city budget.

    As for the comments about savings in the councillors offices, you need to keep in mind that those fees are truely minimal in the grand scheme of the city and if the mayor wants to make changes, having a battle with councillors over $30k in their budgets will really be a waste of time.

    All of these cuts are not even coming close to the reduction in revenue from the car tax that was removed. Then add in the fact that property taxes were not raised and you create a larger divide.
    Within our home, the 'savings' of the car tax and property tax freeze is a few hundred dollars. I would much rather be paying that and know that the city is building infrastructure and moving forward, as opposed to attempting to provide similar services, while paying private companies to do this work.

    As soon as you start moving to private companies, you also start limiting the control you have over these services. So you basically increase the risk of delivering services, as well as use taxpayer dollars to help private companies profit.

    My final message is that I would rather be seen as a citizen than as a taxpayer.


    I would be fascinated to know what percentage labour makes up of Reno Labels' costs.

  • qviri

    Hi, in case you missed the last seven months, councilor budgets were cut by 40% to great fanfare and approximately 0.001% savings to the city budget.

  • dissident416

    Public sector unions have made labour too expensive. That's what makes raising taxes so politically toxic.

  • Rob

    I crunched some numbers after reading this to see what is typical of cities. Here are what some other major Canadian cities spend on labour based on their reported 2010 budgets:

    Calgary: 52% of their operating budget
    Edmonton: 57%
    Vancouver: 63%
    Ottawa: 50%
    Montreal: 56%
    Toronto: 48%

    Keep in mind I may have pulled out some incorrect numbers, as I don't read city budgets on a regular basis, but basically, we're already at the low end of what most cities are spending, so I don't know how massive layoffs are going to help that much.

    (I don't want to self-promote, but if you are interested in where I got the numbers from, the links are in this blog post.)


    Where do you think the 80% number came from?

  • Matt L

    This is a great post. Kudos.

  • John Duncan

    Kowtowing to the wealthiest in society and letting them get away with a steady assault on, and erosion of, the salaries, benefits and pensions of the middle class while concentrating control over media in their own hands is the problem–misdirected bitterness towards the unions for still providing hard-fought for benefits that have been stolen away from the rest  of the former middle class in the name of tax cuts, “efficiency” and choice.

  • Matt Patterson

    By the end of this process, the City of Toronto's main function will be printing labels and tags.

  • Eric S. Smith

    What, and compete with the private sector?  That, sir, is Communism.  Or something.

  • Toronto_Dave

    “All of these cuts are not even coming close to the reduction in revenue from the car tax that was removed.”

    The funny thing about this is, on that same show, Ford apparently bragged of finding $70 million in savings, the bulk of which was actually made up of the $65 million in lost revenue from the cancelled $60 fee.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this guy the CFO of his family's business? How's that possible if he doesn't even understand the difference between lost revenue and savings? They're on opposite sides of the ledger, for Christ's sake.

  • Ian Trider

    Businesses produce goods and services and sell them to consumers at a profit. The city government is not in the business of selling us things, it's in the business of providing services for us. How would it even be possible to compare?

  • dissident416

    Can you give me some examples of exploited public servants? And please stop conflating public sector with private. The middle and lower classes are not going to accept tax increases when they know they are being exploited by public sector unions.

  • dissident416

    Certainly no one in the public sector deserves to live in the real world with the rest of us. That would be too harsh.

  • dissident416

    I agree with that. Government should be restricted to providing services that are unprofitable and cannot be provided by the private sector.

  • Mark Jull

    Great blog post!

  • Eric S. Smith

    Can you give me some examples of exploited public servants?

    If we can’t, it’s probably the fault of those damned unions.

  • dissident416

    No it's because they were never at risk of being exploited. Just keep on taking credit for non-accomplishments of the left.

  • Eric S. Smith

    But unprofitability of government services is a top ranting point of the  “private sector better!” crowd.  Stupid government just spends, spends, spends, right?  Stupid government doesn’t live in the real world.  Stupid government thinks you’re just an ATM full of Tax Dollar$. Next time you’re moaning about your income tax or the GST or user fees on services that you use (as opposed to fees on services that you don’t use, which are of course right and proper), consider that the federal government used to own an oil company.  Boy, maybe your taxes would be lower if the most important thing in the world hadn’t been to throw that away.

  • dissident416

    “But unprofitability of government services is a top ranting point of the  “private sector better!” crowd.”

    Yes, and it's a dumb point. Just like it's dumb to expect it to be more efficient at things the private sector is good at.

    Don't know to respond to the rest of your incoherent rambling.

  • John Duncan

    You might want to reread that.

    I wasn't talking about exploited public servants–they're lucky enough to have unions to look out for their interests.

    I'm talking about all the private-sector jobs which used to have good sets of benefits, pensions, reasonable quantities of vacation time, and at least some amount of job security. But unionization has been on the decline in the private sector, and with it all those nice things.

    The middle and lower classes aren't being exploited by public sector unions, they're being exploited by their own employers who have decided to funnel money to executives and stockholders (stockholders being just a nice way to describe people who already have money).

  • John Duncan

    The rest of us deserve a real world that's a bit more fair and equitable.

  • Toronto_Dave

    All this union-bashing is really a classic case of misdirected resentment. Non-unionized workers envy union members for their living wages and excellent benefits. Yet instead of demanding the same from their own employers, they ask for those unions to be dismantled, wages reduced and benefits taken away. I suppose it's “If I can't have it, then nobody should.”

  • dissident416

    Right, you want to see a world where everyone is equally poor.

  • John Duncan

    Not really, no.

    I'd like to see a world where the incomes and quality of life of most people increase, sort of like the post-WWII period in North America (which involved one of the greatest increases in societal wealth and productivity ever, improved conditions for the middle class, and much higher taxes on the richest).

    I'm not sure why anyone would prefer to continue down the path that led to both the Great Depression and current troubles, as well as generally stagnant growth in incomes for the vast majority of the population over a period of decades.

  • dissident416

    Oh I see, that thread makes you uncomfortable and you want to talk about something else now.

    Ok, so why not give everyone ponies too then?

    It's insane. You seem to think the public should be serving the interests of public servants rather than the other way around.

    Until you and your political ilk manage to surgically strike this mythical ultra-rich minority who has enough extra money to buy everyone nice things, you are exploiting the public.

    In a more practical sense, until you realize just how far into your navel you're gazing, your candidates are going to keep losing elections to blunt instruments like Rob Ford. But sure, just keep on thinking the problem is on the other side.

  • John Duncan

    StatsCanada disagrees fully with your portrayal of growing income inequality as “mythical”.

    And there's also little question that the richest are paying dramatically less tax these days than they have in decades. http://www.policyalternatives…. (And yes, I know, you're just going to dismiss that study because it's from the CCPA, but you could at least try to find some hard numbers that refute it.)

    You might also notice that those public sector workers are also members of the public. As are the private sector workers who have seen their paycheques and benefits cut, if not their jobs entirely, while the richest make a complete recovery.
    And without even the weakened threat of potential unionization to their employers, they'd probably have seen even more pain sooner.

    You might also note that I'm not a unionized worker, never have been, and don't particularly want to be, nor am I in a management position, so I'm not personally exploiting the public even by your heavily warped definition.

  • dissident416

    What's mythical is the possibilty of extracting enough money from this uber rich 1% to keep public sector employees living the high life. The middle and lower classes will pay instead (actually their children even more) and the public sector will feel no shame about it.

    I have exactly one acquaintance who could be described as “rich” – a successful entrepreneur. Taxes became too high for him, and he left the country this year. You want to raise taxes for this 1% to 80%? What do you think is going to happen?

    I didn't really think you were in a public sector union. Just one of their useful tools.

  • dissident416

    LOL. Wealth and productivity of the 1950s was not due to higher taxes. Also, having kids these days is evil, manufacturing and most other industry are evil, energy is evil (unless you're some sort of global warming denier.) Those sorts of things should only be happening offshore, according to lefitsts here.