FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE: Horizon Ottawa Condemns Sutcliffe's First Austerity Budget, Calls for More Social Supports
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is condemning approval today of Sutcliffe's austerity budget that is set to cut Ottawa's transit budget by $47 million and keep spending on services like affordable housing and social services low while raising the already-bloated police budget by another $15.2 million and tripling its capital budget to $60 million.
Of concern as well is the approval of the creation of a new working group that is meant to look into the possibility of contracting out public services to the private sector. An amendment was also added to include looking at contracting in as well.
The move from Sutcliffe is similar to the actions of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who, in 2010 launched a "core services review" of public services. The final report from the review suggested a multitude of cuts to things like public libraries and childcare spaces and encouraged privatizing parts of Toronto's transit system. The review was heavily criticized and led to massive labour unrest.
"Today's budget is a signal to residents across the City of Ottawa that the Sutcliffe era will be an era of service cuts, austerity and privatization," said Sam Hersh, a Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. "It is unfortunate that our new Mayor and some of his council colleagues are more concerned with what critical services we can cut and carve up rather than expand and improve for those most in need."
During the 2022 municipal election campaign, Mayor Sutcliffe pledged to build more 1,000 units per year but despite this repeated the policies of previous budgets to spend only $16 million on new affordable housing.
"If affordable housing is a priority for our new council they certainly are not showing it," said Hersh. "We're living through a housing crisis, a climate crisis, an overdose crisis and an affordability crisis - we need a budget that reflects that."
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