On Saturday, many people gathered at Moss Park in the City of Toronto to protest proposed cuts to housing and social services that are expected in the city’s upcoming 2012 budget.
The “Stop the Cuts” protest is just one in a series of protests that have dogged the steps of beleaguered Mayor Rob Ford ever since he took over the helm of the City of Toronto. Rob Ford, who took over the mantle of leadership under the banner of stopping the gravy train that operated at City Hall, and cutting costs, has been battled every step of the way by poverty activists who have seen him as the poster child for cuts to programs that benefit the poor. The indictment is not without foundation.
Mayor Ford and his brother Doug, determined to balance the city’s budget, have adopted a steam rolling approach that has been seen as insensitive to the needs of the poor of the City of Toronto. Truth be told most politicians who adopt a policy of eliminating financial waste are typically seen as being insensitive to the needs of the poor primarily because their cost cutting measures always hit the poor the hardest.
Tragically, the first targets of cost cutting salvos are always programs that are intended to benefit the poor; ironically, it is those who need the money from whom the money is taken. Why? Because there is a perception that programs such as funding community libraries, women’s shelters, and employment programs, are not really needed and are wasteful. These programs then find their way onto the chopping block.
The problem for Rob Ford is that Torontonians apparently saw him as being a different kind of politician; one who could reduce waste without harming services or raising taxes. This has not been the case. Thus, the city’s 2012 budget, expected to be released this Monday, the target of the “Stop the Cut” protests, is expected to contain devastating cuts to services that benefit the poor in Toronto. These include libraries, shelters, and programs at community centers.
The perception that programs that benefit the poor are wasteful and not really needed, a perception that is shared only by those who do not really need the services in question, is symptomatic of a pervasive cultural attitude that says that the poor are responsible for their own predicament and that others in society should not be responsible for their upkeep.
It is worth reminding ourselves that the Mosaic Code, the foundation of our moral worldview, included an obligation to help the poor.