One sunny summer afternoon, you’re driving home from work in Toronto and you’re delayed by a city construction crew filling potholes on the side of the street. You watch for a moment and see one man shovelling hot asphalt into a hole while three others with clipboards stand in the shade watching him sweat.
A year goes by. The next summer, you’re stopped on the same stretch of road and see another city crew filling more potholes. This time, however, you see two city workers shovelling asphalt into the holes instead of one – and just one supervisor watching their progress from the shade of a nearby maple tree.
“Progress!” you think. In your mind, the city has just doubled the service it’s providing (there are two holes being filled instead of one in the same time) and reduced its cost by 1/4 by only having one supervisor instead of three.
But, you’re wrong. Because, you’re in Toronto.
Only in Toronto, you say
During the debate on Toronto’s 2017 operating budget Wednesday afternoon, NDP councillor Joe Cressy made a point of asking the city’s General Manager of Shelter, Support & Housing Administration Paul Raftis for information about the city’s homeless shelter system. In a series of questions he’d carefully orchestrated beforehand, Cressy asked what the city’s occupancy target was: 90 per cent. He asked what the occupancy rates were on a monthly basis since September: 94 to 96 per cent.
Then, he asked if a planned reduction in staff would produce a “service reduction.”
The answer to this was awkward, as Raftis tried to explain they were re-organizing some work so they no longer needed 10 people to deliver the same services to homeless people in the shelter system: an efficiency. Unsatisfied with that explanation, Cressy pressed until the Raftis begrudgingly agreed that a reduction in staff was a “service reduction.” The socialist politician was very pleased.
Only in Toronto is a reduction in workforce considered an automatic service reduction.
That’s because, years ago, the socialists who govern us literally re-defined the word “service.” In a move that would make Orwell blush, Toronto’s socialist legislators and civil service mandarins, literally re-defined the word “service” to mean “staffing” when it’s used in conjunction with the city budget. Therefore, any reduction in jobs is – by Toronto’s unique definition – a reduction in service.
Of course, you and I don’t think that. Because, you and I naturally assume the word “service” means, well… “service.” But, it doesn’t. Not in Toronto. Not when it comes to budgeting. So, when you hear a city manager or politician talking about reducing “service” you may think they’re talking about reducing the “benefit” (i.e. service) you receive from the city. But, you’re wrong. They mean they’re reducing the number of people who get paid.
When we apply Toronto’s unique socialist definition of the word service to the pothole example, we quickly understand why you were wrong.
You thought doubling the speed at which potholes were being filled while reducing costs by 1/4 was a “service enhancement.” But, in Toronto that’s actually considered a service reduction.
Because here “service” = “jobs” and staffing was reduced by 1/4 – so, according to Toronto’s official Budget Dictionary, city hall analysts must describe the change as a “service reduction.”
Reality doesn’t matter at Toronto City Council
The NDP at Toronto city hall are brilliant. They long ago learned from George Orwell’s prescient 1984 that language is power and have used language to make their socialist dystopia impervious to common sense. Any reduction in workforce at city hall is now, by definition, a service reduction. And, no one wants reduced services!
No doubt, Councillor Joe Cressy will proclaim, with carefully rehearsed faux outrage, how unacceptable it is that Toronto is cutting services to the homeless! When you hear him say that, understand the homeless will in no way be less-served by the changes he’s opposing. Rather, what he’s really saying is “how unacceptable it is that Toronto is eliminating well-paid, but unnecessary union jobs.” The same warning goes when listening to anyone at city hall warning about “service reductions.”
Mayor John Tory would do Toronto residents and taxpayers a great service (in the proper sense of the word) if he managed to officially re-un-define the word so it means what Oxford says it does, and not what the NDP has torqued it to mean.
service | ˈsɜːvɪs n. An act of assistance; Assistance or advice given to others; The action of helping or doing work for someone.