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Toronto In Review

Toronto news from the last weeks...

by Toronto Media Co-op

Toronto In Review

Police have closed the investigation into officers who beat Adam Nobody at the G20 Summit last summer, saying "no individual, police or civilian, can point to any of the three remaining subject officers under investigation depicted in the videos or still photographs striking Mr. Nobody". In December a Police Constable was charged with assault with a weapon in relation to the beating.

A proposed mega-quarry north of Shelburne, Ontario has hired communications firm Hill & Knowlton after the emergence of serious opposition to the project. The Toronto-based firm has previously been retained by a number of human rights abusing states. The mega-quarry would be the second largest in North America and is close to the headwaters of four major rivers in the region.
 
Last week City Council voted to turn down an Ontario government offer to fund two public health nurses, after Rob Ford raised concerns that Toronto would have to foot the bill when the province's funding runs out. Councillor John Fillion, who
chairs the Board of Health, said the city has routinely accepted similar offers from the province in the past.
 
On July 13th, Ford was also the only member of council to oppose, in a 37 to 1 vote, awarding a $1,679,000 grant to prevent HIV/AIDS. In February the mayor was the only person to vote against accepting a $100,000 donation from the province to screen for syphilis and HIV.
 
A coroner's inquest into the death of teenager Gleb Alfyorov continues. In 2008 Alfyorov hung himself after being accidentally transfered to a youth jail instead of a mental heath wing. A jury was told that "Had any one of a series of doctors, lawyers, government workers, court or jail staff done their jobs, Gleb Alfyorov would be alive".
 
Ford ally Giorgio Mammoliti failed in his bid to defund Toronto's Pride Festival over pro-Palestinian parciticipation in the Dyke March. Mammoliti, who refused to talk to Queer newspaper reporters about the issue, was characterized as 'creepy' by fellow councillors for his voyeuristic behaviour in videotaping the event.
 
Audit firm KPMG, hired by the City to implement Mayor Ford's sweeping cuts, has come up with a preliminary round of suggestions for the chopping block as part of the City's so-called 'Core Services Review'. Notable gravy train items deemed extraneous include public daycare, emergency services, gifts for needy children and even old-age homes. Buyout packages are being offered to city staff in an attempt to reduce the city's budget. but layoffs are also expected. Staff who accept the package will be paid severance according to length of employment, with the most senior staff receiving 26 weeks of pay if they leave their job. The head of CUPE Union local 416 has predicted a showdown between workers and the city over the issue. A rally at KPMG’s offices has been called for Thursday at noon.
 

Meanwhile, Toronto's public consultation on the 2010 budget showed residents to be overwhelmingly in favour of retaining services over tax breaks. The consultation, which had over 13,000 participants, supported Public Transit, Fire Services and Water Treatment as the most important services and recommended an average rent increase of over 5%. The Mayor has previously stated he will not raise taxes above 3%.

With humidex levels of 40 C expected across Southern Ontario and actual temperatures reaching record highs in the mid-30s, the Toronto medical officer has issued an extreme heat alert. The city recommends visiting a shopping mall, library or cooling centre, but a coalition of groups called Fair Fares has noted that high TTC fares make cool places inaccessible to the most vulnerable people, and called for free fares to cool places as a matter of public safety on heat alert days. 

400 Oshawa workers have been laid off following the closure of an IQT Solutions call centre; 475 jobs were also lost in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec due to the shutdown, where workers were in the process of unionizing. Union-busting is suspected of being one of the reasons for the shutdown of the Canadian call-centres, which are relocating to Nashville where the city is paying the company a grant of up to 1.6 Million dollars for 'job creation' . Workers were sent home abruptly on Friday without receiving their last paycheque or severance. 


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