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Newsstand: March 28, 2014

What's that, weather forecast? Sunday is supposed to be "sunny and seasonable"? Things might finally be looking up. In the news: analyzing Rob Ford's billion-dollar claim, cracking down on unpaid interns, and calling on rail companies to publicly disclose information about the transport of hazardous materials.

matt newsstand newspaperlies

Mayor Rob Ford’s claim to have saved taxpayers $1 billion in his first term has come under fire before, and it did so again at the first televised mayoral debate of the campaign. Following accusations that Ford’s claim is inaccurate and misleading, the National Post spoke to city bureaucrats. According to Post reporter Natalie Alcoba, “they seemed to back up the mayor, but it is complicated.” City manager Joe Pennachetti explained that Ford has definitely not saved taxpayers anywhere near that much money. What he has done is oversee a number of cost reductions and “efficiencies.” Eventually, Pennachetti said that Ford “can say that I saved a billion dollars, I had budget savings over the four years.” Other City politicians maintained their skepticism over the numbers. City councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale), for his part, said that when the City expects to pay one price for a service and ends up getting a lower price, that should not count as any form of savings: it is simply the result of an incorrect estimate.

As of yesterday, the province’s Ministry of Labour has started cracking down on the magazine industry’s now-standard practice of hiring unpaid interns. Given the choice between paying their current interns and letting them go, Toronto Life (also owned by Torontoist‘s parent company St. Joseph Communications) and The Walrus chose to end their interns’ jobs (two interns will stay on at The Walrus, as they are receiving academic credit for their work). The ministry also said it will be focusing on the magazine industry with renewed vigour this spring. Unpaid internships are understood by many to create an economic and class barrier for entry into professions that employ them, since people who can afford to work full-time for free are likely either to be well-off or to have affluent parents willing to pay their expenses.

City councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) wants rail companies to disclose to the public information on hazardous materials being transported on their lines. “We are simply asking for basic information…like the types of hazardous materials and the volume—for all residents, not only those who live along the railway lines,” Matlow told the Toronto Star. The number of train cars carrying crude oil through Toronto has increased from around 500 in 2009 to about 140,000 last year.

Comments

  • Milquetoast Q. Borington

    When is Toronto Life going to go ahead and change its name to something more accurate like “Rosedale Life” or “Toronto Life For Those Who Make Over $100,000 a Year or Have Rich Parents”.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      $100,000 a year isn’t nearly enough to indulge the Toronto Life lifestyle.

      • HotDang

        You and your partner would probably both have to make that much.

      • dsmithhfx

        It’s aspirational.

    • Jacob

      When the Toronto Sun changes its name to the Etobicoke Sun.

  • torontoresid

    Regarding internships, does “are understood by many” mean that there is any sort of rigorous evidence or is it belief held by many? Is there any sort of evidence on how many of these internships become paid and how many disappear as described above?

    • tomwest

      I think it’s simple logic: a full-time internship doesn’t give you time for a paid job. Therefore, full-time internships are only affordable for those who don’t need a paid job. Therefore either the interns have money for the living expense, or someone else is paying for the living expense. The “someone else” is generally parents.

      • torontoresid

        Hey, thanks for replying. It’s not simple logic though. There are two other possibilities:

        1) The internship disappears and no one gets it (as above).
        2) It has a paid salary but the firm still decides to hire the candidate from the better background (maybe they can afford better schooling or something like that).

        All I would be curious about is if and by what magnitude the pool of people in internships becomes more from lower incomes when the internships shift from unpaid to paid.

        It sounds like a simple empirical question.

        • tomwest

          I was replying to your first question, not your second.

  • generalissimo franco

    If an enterprise relies on free labour to succeed, it’s not a business. It’s a hobby.

  • OgtheDim

    So, the CFO felt the need to answer questions from a beat reporter with the NP about Ford’s remarks and that’s why that note got sent out, as a clarification.

    Do these people not take media training?

    • dsmithhfx

      Pennachetti is a Ford lie-machine enabler, and this ain’t the first time, either. Tory and Stintz probably like the fairy-tale optics of delusional “savings”. If someone else gets in, I’m betting he gets shown the door. Very poor judgement.

      • rich1299

        Well if he didn’t back Ford’s lies he’d be out of a job as we’ve seen before. People will say most anything to keep their job.