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Housing Mega-Snub

Lastman Fumes over MTHA Privatization Plans

Toronto Sun - Oct 13, 1997
by Brad Honywill

Union and political leaders say the Metro Toronto Housing Authority is thumbing its nose at the new megacity council by implementing a bold privatization plan.

The provincial MTHA has approved a plan in principle to hand the management of 7,000 subsidized housing units to the private sector in April.

The change is expected to save almost $5 million annually, but is also expected to result in the loss of 200 jobs at the housing authority and in slower service for tenants.

Megacity mayoral hopeful Mel Lastman, however, says the MTHA has no business making major decisions now when public housing is supposed to be the responsibility of the new megacity council.

"Where the hell do they get off turning it over to the private sector?" a riled Lastman said yesterday. "That should be up to the new megacity."

Agreeing was Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 767 president Wally Devoe, who represents about 640 maintenance workers at the housing authority.

Devoe said the new megacity council was supposed to assume responsibility for all three social housing organizations in Toronto on Jan. 1

Central coordination of social housing policy will be almost impossible if the housing authority takes an independent direction, Devoe said.

MTHA chairman Rashmi Nathwani refused comment yesterday, saying it was his day off.

Barbara Hall, Lastman's major challenger for the job of megacity mayor, could not be reached for comment.

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