Since when is employment gravy?

Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, are back on the gravy bandwagon after debate over the 2014 budget took a pricey turn.

Monday, Toronto finance staff proposed a 2.5 per cent property tax hike for 2014.

This was not what the mayor wanted.

Rob Ford wanted a 1.75 per cent increase, and was furious when council didn’t automatically back him up. He insisted that the 0.5 per cent levy meant to fund the Scarborough subway expansion was included in the 1.75 increase, and that councillors didn’t care how much of a burden the budget would be on taxpayers.

Doug Ford accused Norm Kelly—the deputy mayor thrust into office life by city council—of not even trying to cut the budget. Using the media as his weapon, Ford said there are ways of saving people money. He used the planned hiring of 750 middle-management employees as an example. Of the 750 people, 479 would be hired on as Toronto Transit Commission employees.

As a student, I can appreciate the need to save money. As a citizen of Toronto, however, I appreciate people’s desire to live in a city where streets are well constructed, buildings resemble more than a concrete box, and children feel secure in public libraries.

But above all else, I want to live in a city where people’s jobs aren’t considered “gravy”.

Doug Ford’s choice to single out job creation as a source of economic waste is disheartening, especially since allegations are floating around that his brother gave his employees a $5000 raise. Apparently, hiring new people on the city’s payroll has become a low priority for the Ford brothers.

With an unemployment rate of 7.1 per cent, can we really afford to be thinking in those terms?

Mayor Ford’s staple speech is that under his management, the city has saved money and created more jobs. I assume this is the same rhetoric he will use in his 2014 mayoral campaign. Yet, here we see the Ford brothers banding together to say that the creation of 750 jobs is not important.

The importance of lowering taxes trumps the importance of allowing people the opportunity to pay them.

I understand how Ford’s “gravy train” promise is appealing. For those of us who don’t have much money to spare, a few hundred dollars saved can go a long way. But we should also consider the human cost of this promise.

If the city is not creating more jobs, where will that 7.1 per cent go? Will this mean there are 750 more people on the street? How many more people will work at McDonalds instead of having the opportunity to work for a more reputable employer like the TTC? How many people will sacrifice a career for a menial job just to be able to pay their bills?

From what I see, the Ford’s aren’t thinking long term. Instead of thinking about the citizens of Toronto, they are just focusing on the taxpayers of Toronto.

All I can hope is that the rest of city council remembers the difference. Because for this unemployed student, a few dollars is well worth a career. Even if it means second helpings of gravy.



*Please note I am only talking about Ford brothers in regards to city policy, and not their behaviour. Therefore I am not breaking my “I’m done with Rob Ford” rule.



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