Toronto offering buyouts to 17,000 of its municipal staff

Offers are intended to curb the city’s estimated $774 million 2012 budget deficit
||Last Updated: 07/12/2011

The city of Toronto is offering buyouts to 17,000 of its municipal staff.

Details of the Voluntary Separation Program were outlined by City Manager Joe Pennachetti on Tuesday. He said that eligible employees are entitled to three weeks of pay per year of service for unionized workers, and four weeks of pay per year for non-unionized employees.

“It’s purposely voluntary so that the employee can make a choice,” said Pennachetti. “We know that there is going to be some impact related to some services and they’ve now got a few months to consider their opportunities and decide whether or not they want to stay with the city.”

Pennachetti would not say how many people he hoped would take the buyout, nor how much money could potentially be saved because it is not yet known how many people will take the offer.

The city’s mayor, Rob Ford, spoke earlier on Tuesday, saying that city salaries made up a large part of the city’s budget.

"We have too many employees down at city hall. We have to find ways of giving them packages to move on, or entice them to move on,” Ford said earlier in the day. “We just can't carry 53,000 employees anymore.”

When Ford became mayor last year, he said he would eliminate the city's $503 million 2011 budget deficit and create a $1.7 billion surplus within four years. The 2012 budget deficit is now estimated at $774 million.

Employee salaries and benefits were expected to make up about 47.5 percent of Toronto's operating budget in 2011, according to documents from city council's budget committee.

Employees will be able to apply for the separation program until September 9, 2011.

– with files from Reuters

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