Tag Archives: Globe and Mail

So we’re Number One in job creation, what about Guelph’s other Number One’s?

By Gerry Barker

Posted January 18, 2016

While Coun. Phil Allt exalts in the news that Guelph’s unemployment rate is lowest in Canada at 4.2 per cent; he has no qualms in voting for tax increases of 11.1 per cent in his first year in office.

In his first term as councillor, property taxes for 2015 and 2016 were approved. But there are other wrinkles. Council also approved a 4.15 per cent transfer to debt to pay for excessive spending of operations and capital.

Mercy me, I read a column in the Mercury by Kitchener Record reporter, Greg Mercer, who covers baseball and general assignments, applauding the job opportunities that Guelph offers, without being specific.

So, in the public interest, here is the cold hard truth. StatsCan does not measure the residency of the workers in Guelph. All you have to do early in the morning is see all the cars entering Guelph from other municipalities. Same thing happens at the end of the workday when workers return to their homes in Kitchener, Cambridge, Fergus, Rockwood and Puslinch.

Even the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Amorosi, the senior staffer responsible for the City of Guelph’s financial management, does not live in the city. He pays his taxes in Hamilton, his home away from the job.

This is another reason that the cost of living in Guelph is 50 per cent higher than either Cambridge or Kitchener. Creating jobs can only be positive if the worker resides in our city and contributes to its operations.

That does not happen with these ghost workers who migrate daily from other jurisdictions and do not contribute a dime to support the city where they work.

We’re Number One, we’re Number One.

Oh, yeah.

Well, we’re tops in Canada for property tax rates, user fees, debt, electricity, and water rates. We have a waste collection system that fails to service more than 13 per cent of the population. Did I explain that property owners, who do not receive city waste collection, pay for it anyway through their taxes?

Our city council is controlled by a Gang of Seven councillors who caucus regularly and independently from the rest of council in their assigned committee room in City Hall? I don’t think the Ontario Municipal Act permits this.

Did the report in the Globe and Mail investigate what happened in building a new city hall that was originally contracted to cost $42 million but ended up costing $65 million?

Has city council dealt with the $23 million shortfall? It wasn’t even mentioned during the 2016 budget meetings.

Speaking of which, while city staff recommended a ten-year, two per cent automatic property tax increase to pay for more than $250 million in infrastructure changes, council bounced that one down the road referring it to a committee.

Still feeling that Guelph is Number One?

Consider that Guelph’s public servants are highly unionized. The city alone is 80 per cent unionized. These unions supported the Farbridge administration, that in turn, was generous with contract increases and improvements.

.Now let’s look at the real number of mostly unionized public servants, Both federal and provincial employees, and the University of Guelph. This city has more employees earning more that $100,000 a year than any other city of similar size in Ontario.

These jobs are secure, highly paid and totally guaranteed by the municipal corporation.

How many Linamar employees have that kind of lifetime security, wages and benefits guarantees?

When our Mayor comments in the Globe and Mail puff piece that he is bringing business to Guelph and that the city is prospering, is a great sales pitch in a national newspaper. He is a salesman but the problems still exist and won’t be solved by hyperbole.

The trouble is that the baggage and costs left from the previous administration are still there. For example, when Mayor Cam Guthrie took office, he was unable to replace the Farbridge administrative assistant in his own office, due to contrived union rules.

The deep-set problem with Guelph is that the unions are still in control through their support of council’s Gang of Seven councillors.

There are so many issues in this city that need to be addressed by intelligent and concerned residents through actively supporting reform.

The dominant Gang of Seven are, for the most part, incompetent and irresponsible members who are echoing the policies of the previous administration that almost brought the city to its financial knees.

So, without public input, Ann Pappert, Chief Administration Officer for the city, agrees to allow DCAO Mark Amorosi, to oversee the finances of the city. Amorosi hired a General Manager of Finances and City Treasurer to manage the city finances. This is a job that this individual has never held before.

This is the underlying problem with which the citizens have to understand and trust the management of their stakeholder interests.

It’s complex and the special interests group that have controlled Guelph for more than eight years, are still in charge.

Now, do you still believe that Guelph is Number One?

They can’t even pick up all the garbage.



Filed under Between the Lines

Whats the difference between Volkswagen and the Ontario Liberals?

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 28, 2015

Volkswagen was the world’s largest car manufacturer until it became embroiled in a monumental scandal over lying about the fuel efficiency of its diesel engines. In the current quarter it announced a loss of $1.8 billion and slipped to second place in sales behind Toyota.

Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals have been stumbling along for two years with a $10 million operating deficit. Now we learn that her government has been making under the table payments to teacher’s unions who, in turn, have spent some $6.1 million supporting the party in at least three provincial elections.

The premier calls the payments “normal” while Liz Sandals, MPP, Guelph and Minister of Education, is quoted as saying the payments were ”nothing about anything.”

So what’s the difference between Volkswagen and the Wynne Liberals?

Volkswagen fired its CEO, shook up the board of directors and acknowedged its mistake of lying to the public about the diesel mileage of its cars. They are pledged to fix it.

Kathleen Wynne and her sidekick, Liz Sandals, are still in charge and driving the public education system into the grave of John Ross Robertson, a key individual who originally set up Ontario’s public education system.

This government has participated in a deal with three teacher unions in payoffs totaling $7.1 million. In exchange for labour peace the quid pro quo of the teacher union’s exclusive support, the unions contributed money and manpower, to the Ontario Liberal party.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was a party to this in the last three provincial elections, first as Minister of Education and more recently as Premier.

The unmitigated folly of these two former public school trustees, thanks to a leaked secret 42-page document to the Globe and Mail, has created a political firestorm of outrage by the public. Thousands of elementary pupils, their parents and the taxpayers are at the mercy of the Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontarto (ETFO) and the government negotiators.

The strategy that backfired on the Wynne Liberals, authors of this debacle

The ETFO is the largest teacher’s union in Ontario. It is the only public education union that refused to accept the million dollar government bonuses.

Last August, three unions settled a new contract, including a 2.5% increase and were paid as follows: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), $1 million with 66,000 members; the Ontario English Catholic High Teachers Asssociation (OECTA), $1 million with 33,000 members, and the French language teachers (AEFO), $500,000 with 10,000 members.

But the ETFO refused to agree to a similar settlement and refused any so-called, undocumented payment for additional bargaining costs such as the other three major unions had received.

Today, Premier Wynne, announced that receipts were required before any under the counter payments were made. This was a complete slap in the face for Minister Sandals who told the media that her department did not require receipts because they were familiar with the costs of the union negotiating team.

Instead, negotiations broke down. To make its point the ETFO leadership moved to its job action program that started to inconvenience children and parents. Today, October 28, the teachers will leave the classroom at 3:15 and refuse to participate in parent/teacher interviews, will not write report cards, or work on any extracurricular activities.

It would appear that the premier is saying the offer the other three unions accepted, is still on the table. She has threatened to start docking the pay of those elementary teachers who do not carry out their responsibilities and end their job action starting this weekend.

So because the EFTO refuses to agree to the government’s demand to settle on its terms; because the EFTO won’t accept under the table payments or donate money to the Liberals; because the EFTO has some regard for its responsibility to the children and their parents; they are left with no choice.

The Wynne Liberals are determined to bring the ETFO to heel and accept their terms.

For Premier Wynne and Minster Liz Sandals to continue to inconvenience the lives of elementary pupils and parents for their party’s personal gain and to maintain power, is an unconscionable misuse of their fiduciary responsibility and public trust.

It’s time to resign, both of you, and turn out the lights when you leave.


Filed under Between the Lines