All Aboard the Gravy Train: Children, the Elderly, Recreation Centres
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All Aboard the Gravy Train: Children, the Elderly, Recreation Centres

Due to budgetary pressures, the City commissioned KPMG to evaluate municipal programs and services and compile a list of which could be cut, or cut back. The results of those findings are being released in a series of reports this month. Each day a report is released, All Aboard the Gravy Train will look at what, in our current administration, is considered expendable.

Report for: Community Development and Recreation [PDF]
Not Gravy: 87 per cent of services in this area described as “core.” Of particular note in this area is homeless support. An actual increase is proposed, specifically to the Streets to Homes program, with the hope of reducing the need for shelter beds.

  • Child care. Among the opportunities for savings listed: transfer public child care spaces to private operators, eliminating all municipally funded spaces, reducing child care subsidies, and “consider[ing] whether City quality assessments are required” (leaving all assessments to the province instead). The report notes that “Phasing out may be necessary to manage the impact on families” and that the private sector can operate child care services more cheaply because City-run programs have higher staffing levels. It goes on to say “Reducing the number of subsidized child care spaces will make work and/or school less accessible to some parents,” and points out that “There is already a waiting list of 19,000, equal to 70 per cent of subsidized spaces. With 60 per cent of low income children in the GTA living in Toronto, there is ample need/demand for subsidized child care.”
  • Long term care facilities. KPMG suggests most of these could, if the City wanted, be “terminated,” and facilities sold to private sector or non-profit operators. The report notes that “City homes report they have a higher proportion of low income and high-needs clients than most private homes. On the other hand, it is hard to justify the higher level of spending on the 16.9 per cent of LTC residents who happen to live in facilities operated by the City.”
  • Recreation centres. The City could consider “innovative operating approaches,” primarily partnerships with the private sector. It’s also suggested that the City evaluate its rec centre programs to determine which it should continue to support. The report goes on to advise: “In view of growing private involvement in recreation services, reconsider the City’s role, purpose, goals, and objectives in Community Recreation… The key difference between a City pool and a private pool is that the City doesn’t try to recover all the costs of operating the pool. It has decided there is value to the public in having people in swimming programs.” It then goes on to pose a series of questions the City should consider: “Should [the City] provide extra support for children who can’t afford fees? For adults? Can clear targets be set, and used to evaluate programs, supporting those that provide good value, and changing or terminating those that cost more than they are worth?”