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Core Services Review Part 3: KPMG suggests cuts to daycare, long-term care homes

A new KPMG report suggests the City of Toronto could save millions by phasing out 2,000 subsidized daycare spots, contracting out city-run daycare centres, outsourcing or selling its long-term care homes and amalgamating paramedic and fire services.

The KPMG report released Wednesday looks at the cluster of programs and services that falls under the community development and recreation committee (CDRC).

It is the third report released this week, and follows Monday’s report on the public works and infrastructure department and Tuesday’s report on the economic development department. In the two previous reports, the consulting firm said 96 per cent of services are considered mandatory, so there wasn’t a lot of fat to trim from those two departments.

The reviews are part of a core services review requested by Mayor Rob Ford to help the city find ways to shave costs because of its 2012 operating deficit of $774 million.

In Wednesday’s report, KPMG said 87 per cent of activities under the CDRC are mandatory and suggested there were opportunities for cuts or eliminations in the remaining 13 per cent of services.

CDRC chair Giorgio Mammoliti told CityNews.ca that the 13 per cent would represent about $138 million of CDRC’s $2.28 billion annual budget.

Mammoliti said the committee will be considering the KPMG report at a meeting next Wednesday and will be making some recommendations.

One of the ideas the committee will be considering is whether to reduce or eliminate 2,000 subsidized daycare spots that the province no longer funds.

“One of the questions I’ll be asking is, ‘Should we let the province take it all?’” he said. “Or should the province give us a fee?”

He said he’d like to hear the province’s reaction to that.

The city currently has 24,000 subsidized daycare spots, 22,000 of which are subsidized by the province.

Coun. Janet Davis said Mammoliti was “so out of touch.”

“We shouldn’t be talking about cutting a single space. We should be talking about expanding good, high-quality options for families in the city.”

Mammoliti said the same consideration would apply to old-age homes. The city is required to run one but operates a total of 10. The report suggests either selling them or transferring long-term care homes to non-profit community organizations.

He added the committee may consider a program that would allow seniors to remain in their own homes.

The report also suggested the city consider:
-transferring 57 city-operated child-care centres to community or private operators.
-terminating city inspection of subsidized childcare centres.
-reconsidering the city’s role as a supplier of  recreation services.
-outsourcing patient transfers.
-amalgamating emergency medical service (EMS) and fire services.

KPMG said firefighting has twice the budget but the largest majority of calls are for paramedics, so integrating the two would help “shift more resources to EMS response.”

The idea was criticized by Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE Local 416.

“In other Canadian jurisdictions where it has taken place, it’s failed miserably. In fact they’re two different services: firefighters fight fires and paramedics respond to medical emergencies,” he said.

With files from Melanie Ng