Weekend news: the TTC's Spadina subway extension is over budget (again), a first-time councillor and former cop has some problems with the police service, and thousands of child welfare cases could be reviewed due to subpar drug and alcohol testing.
The delay- and problem-beset subway extension along Spadina is now an additional $400 million over budget, according to TTC CEO Andy Byford. After a “complete reset” last year that led to two managers being fired, the project is expected to be completed no sooner than the end of 2017. The new over-budget expenses are due to several claims contractors have against the city for the project, some of which Byford said the TTC considers valid and will pay out. Others the city will likely fight, and those may be settled in litigation.
Rookie city councillor Jon Burnside (Ward 26, Don Valley West) came to the job after working as a traffic cop, and he’s now making waves publicly criticizing some of the police service’s operations. Specifically, Burnside is taking issue with the choice to move ahead with a series of promotions for senior officers without first addressing any of the cost-cutting measures laid out in a report solicited from consulting firm KPMG. Burnside expressed a worry, which became more concrete once he heard the news of promotions going ahead, that there was no real political will to institute any of the changes suggested in the report (those changes range from putting more officers on the street to doing away with city divisions and having them run as store-front operations instead). A vocal supporter of Mayor John Tory, Burnside says he sees his role right now as digging into the issue from the outside and holding others in City Council to account.
Following an independent review of the Hospital for Sick Children’s testing lab Motherisk’s test results over a number of years, released in December by former Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang, retired provincial judge Judith Beaman will head a commission to review thousands of child welfare cases affected by the tests. A 2010 investigation by the Toronto Star revealed that the lab was using a hair-testing method to detect drugs and alcohol that fell short of the highest standards. More than 16,000 people had hair tested between 2006 and 2015 at Motherisk. The commission will be able to review cases both at the behest of children’s aid societies and of its own volition, and has been asked to give priority attention to a number of cases children’s aid groups have begun to flag already.