Toronto eyeing cuts to police and fire services

Consulting firm suggests reducing staff and introducing a hiring freeze
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 07/21/2011

Toronto will consider making cuts to its police force and fire services as part of the final report released today by the consulting firm commissioned by the city to source areas of cutbacks.

The review suggests reducing the Toronto Police Service to one-officer patrols in “appropriate circumstances” and reducing the overall size of the force. Other proposals include introducing a hiring freeze and providing incentives for early retirement.

The report acknowledges that the city could “expect resistance” from the Toronto Police Association because some items conflict with the terms of the officers’ collective bargaining agreement.

Another KPMG report released last week proposed that Toronto’s fire and EMS services be amalgamated to transfer select resources to paramedics, who have been answering an increasing number of emergency medical calls in recent years.

KMPG’s recommendations will save the city more than $740 million, which will also take a bite out of the city’s public health and environment programs. The cuts have been identified by consulting firm KPMG in an attempt to cover the city’s estimated $774-million budget shortfall for 2012.

The city’s executive committee, made up of Mayor Rob Ford and his supporters, will select which proposals should be implemented when they meet next week. Toronto council will vote on the proposals in late September.

Firefighters already seeing cuts

Last night, Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association President Ed Kennedy announced that a recruitment class of 50 firefighters has been scrapped because the city has denied funds for the program. This is the first time this has happened since the city amalgamated.

The recruitment class is required by the city every time 40 firefighters leave the ranks and about two to three classes are held every year. Toronto’s firefighters say they are currently about 80 firefighters short and that delaying hiring new firefighters has negative consequences.

Kennedy said that the firefighter’s union currently has a grievance pending over the issue.

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