Saturday, August 13, 2011

If it seems too good to be true, it usually is

Rob Ford is giving election promises a very bad name right about now:
When he was running for mayor last year, Rob Ford made two explicit promises to the voters of Toronto.

The first was that his plan to trim spending and “stop the gravy train” would not mean any cuts to city services. “I will assure you that services will not be cut, guaranteed,” he said on Oct. 8, two weeks before winning election.

The second was that there would be no layoffs. In a statement released on YouTube on Sept. 27, he said he would reduce the number of city employees through attrition. “No need for layoffs.”

Now it looks as if he will break both promises. City hall is considering a whole menu of service cuts as Mr. Ford seeks to wipe out a $774-million budget shortfall. City council is to meet next month to consider cutting back on everything from libraries to policing to street cleaning.

As for layoffs, Mr. Ford came close to admitting on Friday that they are inevitable. It was clear all along that attrition alone would not do the trick. Now it seems that a second tactic – offering buyout packages to employees if they leave – is falling short too. Though Mr. Ford says that the last thing he wants to do is put people out on the street, “I don’t know if we have a choice.”
Toronto's budget woes will be a very helpful and ongoing backdrop for the Ontario election. Those promising tax relief yet simultaneously no changes to Ontario services will hopefully be viewed with greater skepticism this time round. Fool me once...and all that.