Internal Memo Warns Culture Department Staff of Impending Cutbacks
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Internal Memo Warns Culture Department Staff of Impending Cutbacks

"In the past we have been able to achieve net budget reductions with almost no reductions in staff. Very painfully, that will not be the case this year."

A 2010 Nuit Blance installation at Nathan Phillips Square. The City staff who help organize Nuit Blanche are among those who may face layoffs. Photo by {a href="[email protected]/5347281983/"}nsalgado{/a} from the {a href=""}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

As has become clear over the past days and weeks, significant changes are coming to many areas of City Hall. Among those: cutbacks to arts and culture funding.

Nobody is quite sure what form these changes will take. City manager Joe Pennachetti has recommended a 10 per cent across-the-board cut, while the mayor’s office says it would instead like to scale back City-run arts programs and redirect that money to arm’s-length grants. (Full details of the mayor’s plan are expected Monday.) What is clear is that whatever the nature of the cuts, City staff will be affected.

Or more directly: some of them will be laid off. This morning, the general manager of the City’s Economic Development & Culture Division sent out a memo, warning staff of tough times ahead.

The full text of that memo (sent to us by one of its recipients, and confirmed by another staff member in the Culture department) is after the jump.


As you will have seen, Joe P has released his Report responding to the KPMG Report in which some Museums, Sectors, Business Services and BIAs are mentioned specifically. He has also released a User Fee Report and the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) report. In addition, there have been media reports over the weekend that the Mayor’s Office has some suggestions about restructuring the way cultural activities are organized and funded. These suggestions could have major impacts on this Division. These are all slated to go to Exec Committee on Sept 19th and then to Council on Sep 26th. Subsequently, there is the full 2012 budget process that becomes public in November and approved in January which could include additional reduction elements not specified in the City Manager’s Report. Until the Reports and 2012 Budget are dealt with at Council (this month and then again during the budget process), we will not know what the specific repercussions will be to our Division.

As I mentioned at the Town Hall, there will be some significant operational cuts likely incurred by this Division. The VSP take up by staff in this Division is not large enough to offset these cuts so there will be some positions eliminated that have staff in them. Even when this happens, it is not clear what the impacts will be on the particular staff as collective bargaining and potential internal reassignments (both in our Division and elsewhere) must be considered.

I believe very strongly that we do very good and worthwhile work across this Division. I also recognize financial imperatives and so spending reductions are inevitable. In the past we have been able to achieve net budget reductions with almost no reductions in staff. Very painfully, that will not be the case this year.

So, we are now into a period of great uncertainty. For some, this will be a new experience and for others there will be some prior exposure to this type of work environment. My own advice is to focus on doing a good job, as usual, each and every day. We are all committed to the work we do and we should stay so. I do recognize the challenges and am confident that you will do your best and thank you in advance for all your efforts. In my experience, this leads to the best possible outcomes in the circumstances, no matter what the outcomes turn out to be.

I also realize that this uncertainty will be very difficult for many of our stakeholders and clients. They will have lots of questions about what is going to happen to a particular booking or a specific grant or an individual event or program. We simply don’t know until Council has made their decisions. Until then, we stick to our plans and commitments. I will keep you posted as best I can during the course of the next few months. If you have a particular situation that needs special attention please speak to your manager. Also, please feel free to ask your manager or Director if you have any questions on what is happening and we will do our best to answer or to find out the answer.

And, as always, you can let me know your thoughts or questions directly.

Mike Williams

As Torontonians both and outside of City Hall wait to learn more details of planned cutbacks, anxiety is clearly mounting.