The City of Toronto is one step closer to major layoffs, confirming that pink slips will be issued to as many as 1,190 workers as part of cost-cutting measures in next year's budget.
That job-shedding figure, the largest in the city's history, follows an announcement earlier this week that Toronto planned to eliminate 2,338 jobs – or about 5 per cent of staff – through buyouts, unfilled vacancies and layoffs.
The new numbers, released Wednesday, detail exactly how many people will be affected under the budget plan. They show that the lion's share of job losses in city departments will hit unionized workers, with 666 union jobs targeted for elimination.
Another 643 vacant union posts also will be chopped. The city's two largest union locals represent roughly 28,000 city workers.
At the management level, 48 employees could be shown the door and 94 vacant positions will be history.
“I think the numbers are a very sobering thought for everyone,” said Councillor Mike Del Grande, the city's budget chief. “If people thought jobs were guaranteed, we are seeing otherwise.”
The job losses also extend to city agencies, boards and commissions. Under the proposed budget – which will go to council for approval in January – the Toronto Public Library will cut 152.5 jobs, including 110 positions targeted under a buyout program.
The TTC has already served notice to 324 workers who are included in the staff reductions announced Wednesday.
The job numbers also take into account 372 vacant positions at Toronto Police Services, including deferred hiring for 353 jobs.
Councillor Del Grande said he regrets the timing of the layoff announcement before Christmas, but warned those untouched by the reductions against becoming complacent. Areas with high absenteeism rates and low productivity are likely to be considered as areas for contracting out if conditions do not change, he said. “That ball is with our workers. It doesn't count just to show up,” he said.
News of the layoffs comes as the city has served notice that it plans to contract out more services, The Globe and Mail has learned. The city hopes to award private contracts for street-sweeping in Etobicoke, North York, York and Scarborough, a labour source said. Earlier this fall, council approved a contract for private curbside garbage collection from Yonge Street to the Humber River.
Mayor Rob Ford has been clear that he wants to cut the number of workers at City Hall. In early November, after fewer than expected were approved for a buyout program, Toronto's city manager confirmed layoffs were on the way.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said the city's work force has grown to unaffordable levels, leaving no option but to resort to job cuts. “We're certainly not happy we've come to this situation,” he said. “It's just a matter of fact that we've added more employees over the years than we can afford and we've now got redundant positions and we've got to reduce the number in order to balance our budget.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan, a critic of the mayor, called the layoffs “unacceptable” at a time when the city expects to end the year with a $139-million surplus.
“This voodoo economics is being driven not by economic reality, it's being driven by ideology,” he said. “It's an ideology that wants to provide Torontonians less service even though this mayor is prepared to charge more to get those services.”