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December 14, 2007
Factual errors in the January 2008 edition of Toronto Life magazine
  
The article in the January 2008 edition of Toronto Life magazine entitled “Where Your Money Goes” contained several factual errors and failed to provide context on a number of fronts. Here are the facts:

  • The story says the City was sued by the Royal Canadian Mint. The Mint has not sued the City of Toronto. The Mint has sent the City an invoice for use of the image of the Canadian penny and the words “one cent.” The City and the Mint are working together to resolve the matter and no legal proceeding was ever undertaken. The national campaign for municipalities to receive the equivalent of one cent of the GST is supported by the more than 1,600 member municipalities of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. For more information visit www.onecentnow.ca.

  • The story says the Toronto Public Service lacks accountability. The Toronto government has very stringent accountability measures for its public service, including a contract management office, an auditor general (including a fraud and waste hotline), a lobbyist registrar, and a soon-to-be-named ombudsperson. Unlike other governments that receive an auditor’s report once per year, the City of Toronto holds regular Audit Committee meetings throughout the year.

  • Much of the story speaks to the conduct of audits but fails to provide any real context. Readers should know that over the years more than 80% of the Auditor General’s 800 recommendations have been implemented.

  • The story says the City, as an organization, lacks “vitality and ingenuity.” In recent years, the Toronto Public Service has won more than 70 public sector awards for its creativity and effectiveness in service delivery. To see how the Toronto Public Service is an innovator in service delivery and to see some of the awards the City has won visit: www.toronto.ca/city_initiatives/cityupdate2007.htm.

  • The story says the City does not have adequate succession plans and refers to the “gapping” of positions. Measures to temporarily not fill vacant positions were required to immediately reduce costs for the reminder of 2007 and reduce the budget shortfall for 2008. Thirty-four million dollars in budget reductions were achieved for the last four months of 2007, and another $83 million in reductions is planned for 2008. Succession plans to maintain a well-qualified public service are underway in several key divisions.

  • The story presents partial statistics from the Fraud and Waste Hotline stating that there have been 2,000 complaints and 240 investigations reported since the hotline began operating in March of 2002. The article fails to include information about the number of complaints that were reported by the Auditor General to be substantiated in whole or in part - less than 8%. Calls to the hotline and substantiated complaints dropped more than 10% in 2006 over the previous year. The number of substantiated complaints represents less than 1% of the City’s workforce. City management acts quickly on all cases of suspected fraud or waste, and any employee proven to have breached policy or committed fraud is disciplined or their employment is terminated. The City administration supports the fraud hotline and communicates its availability widely. The number to the hotline is 416-397-STOP (416-397-7867) and the website with all of the Auditor General’s reports can be viewed at www.toronto.ca/audit.

  • The story says planning decisions should be community-based and led by City Hall, and asserts that that does not happen. In fact, this year alone more than 400 formal public meetings will have been held by planning staff. In addition, the City’s Planning Division goes beyond legislated requirements for public consultation and engages the public through workshops, design charettes, area study groups, review panels and other general forms of outreach and education. As well, of the more than 700 planning applications the City receives each year, the overwhelming majority are dealt with without the Ontario Municipal Board’s intervention. A recent report to the City’s Planning and Growth Management Committee highlights the work done by the City’s Planning Division to ensure the public is involved in planning decisions. To read the full report visit: www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2007/pg/bgrd/backgroundfile-8773.pdf.

  • The almost 10-year-old photograph in the story headlined, “A Good Bureaucrat Is Hard to Find,” contained several mistakes as some of the staff shown to have left are, in fact, still with the City and another shown to still be here has in fact left the employ of the City.

  • The story states the budget for bike lanes are “lumped” together with the budget for speed humps. Bike lanes and the budget for speed humps are separate budget items. The 2008 capital budget for bike lanes, alone, is $5.5 million.


    Media contact:

    Kevin Sack
    Director
    Strategic Communications Division
    416-397-5277


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