Cornwall Ontario Facing Budget Crisis Over Fire, EMS, & Police Services by Jamie Gilcig FEB 21, 2015

jg2CORNWALL Ontario – Cutting taxes may be great buzz words to getting elected, but they are a lot harder to implement.

What you have in today’s Cornwall are a group of council.   There are a few experienced hands on deck like Mayor O’Shaughnessy, Elaine MacDonald, Mark MacDonald, Andre Rivette, and Bernadette Clement.

You have second term councilors like Maurice Dupelle and David Murphy, and then the rookies, Carilyne Hebert, Brock Frost, Justin Towndale, and um, Claude Mcintosh.

At least three of those are responsible for the current mess the city is in when it comes to taxes which while already high were raised on average 2% during the Kilger term.    Much support has been bought politically via our tax dollars.

Firemen in Cornwall tend to vote as a block as do many police and others on the public teat.   Witness the near twenty fire fighters at a recent council meeting.

As someone that ran for Mayor and has looked hard at some numbers there is no other clear decision to make that to cut from where the biggest increases are occurring.

That is going to be very difficult and I’m sure pressure is being applied to those elected by multiple sources.

At the end of the day though a time will come when a city simply can’t afford to pay anymore as has happened in the US and will spread to Canada.

Does it really make sense to pay 14 fire staff to man 10 slots to um….avoid overtime?   Is it not time to review the entire situation and simply pay people to be on call?    I get that firefighters will not give up a single penny without a fight and I don’t blame them.  I blame those that gave out the contracts in the first place.

The Police Board resigned Chief Parkinson without really consulting the public or council (unless it was in secret).

Should not strong pressure been put on the Chief to find savings within the CCPS prior to being resigned?

And at the end of the day isn’t it better if our departments help find that savings, even if it means they give up something rather than wait for the wheels to fall off?

We have seen in our education system in Ontario that some services fall to the wayside to keep up with the high cost of our teachers.     Can we really afford that when it comes to Fire and Police?

This writer doesn’t envy this council.  Some may play the short game as others have before them; give the services what they want and don’t upset them so they can get re-elected.

We should be supporting those though that are looking at the reality that we simply cannot keep pumping up these services the way they have the last ten years.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  You can post your comments below.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

Comment policy reminder

CFN has a new comment policy. You must use your real first and last name. As well if your email bounces we will terminate your posting privileges.

We value all input from our amazing CFN viewers and are always trying to improve the viewer experience which includes making this a safe, informative, and entertaining platform.

If you have any questions please email


  1. The predicament is a result of an apathetic voting public who elect leadership not suited to the tasks at hand. Complacent wannabe politicians playing the game poorly and only considering their own selfish agendas. Municipal salaries and benefits soaring out of control continually decreasing the amount of tax revenue available to provide the services required. Rather than doing something meaningful and responsible the easy solution has always been to avoid reality and commonsense and hike taxes.

    We are now consuming the majority of tax revenues on salaries, benefits and unnecessary payoffs and legal bills (not to forget questionable studies and consultations). If you doubt this ask a councilor for the percentage of these costs relative to tax revenues (including fees of all descriptions).

    The answer of course is rather simple and right under our noses. Unfortunately having your head buried in the sand impairs your vision.

  2. The problem with fire services is that standards must be maintained and a lot of times the city has no say in these.

    As for the Police Board they operate at arms length from city council. City council cannot make changes to the police service, that is done by the Police Services Board. Council either approves or doesn’t approve their budget. Council should have said no and told them to come back with a 0% increase in the Police services budget. If the taxpayers are paying the bill then council should have a say in what happens.

  3. Since department budgets are 80% staffing cutting will most likely not happen since it would have a negative impact on many of council’s political agenda’s. They may cut non union personnel and\or benefits as they have in the past but it will have very little impact on the overall budget since there are so few of them.

    Diane Shay

  4. Agreed Diane, but there are other ways to save money without cutting staff and / or services. The city needs to look at these methods. One way is for the city / counties and departments to combine purchase orders for common daily items, etc.

  5. Hugger1

    That is an excellent idea. I have cost shared training and the first reverse 911 program with the counties which made it cost efficient for both.

    Unfortunately, historically the City and Counties seldom agree on issues. It would take a great deal of motivation to get them on the same page for the common good.

    But you never know, some day common sense may prevail.

    They could also stop hemorrhaging legal fees and paying buy outs to harassing Mangers (Mr. Fitzpatrick, Ms. Derouchie and Mr. Menagh) which in itself has greatly contributed to any tax increase.

    Take Care,

    Diane Shay

  6. I sure do believe that what happened in the US is going to come here to Canada and maybe much worse. Teachers in the US earn very little compared to our Canadian teachers and police earn very little as well just like the teachers in the US. I know because I was on the forums with Americans and they couldn’t believe the salaries that are made here in Canada. You are going to have to see the cuts or else Cornwall will go under as well as the townships. Delegating work to private firms who would pay a great deal less for employees to do the jobs is the way to go and this is being done right here in Ottawa. If you do not find an alternative method of doing things you will go down and not only that but those counsellors are 10 plus the mayor that is highway robbery for such a very small town.

  7. Yes, police and teachers in Canada make more than they do in the U.S.A. Part of the problem is that OPP officers have a clause in their contracts that they must be the highest paid police officers in Ontario. As for teachers it’s been that way for a long time. Try cutting back their salaries and see what happens.

    Yes, alternatives must be found. But in Cornwall we have to stop paying people to go away and be quiet, or as the city calls it “early retirement.”

    There are always alternative ways to do things. The city just has to have the incentive to do it. And I don’t see it in Cornwall. The city is so set in its ways it won’t change any time soon.

  8. Ability to pay does not matter it seems, so we must change the way things are done.
    Can we not have a trained but cheaper person to conduct school fire training? How about instead of a Police Officer standing guard outside a burnt building protecting evidence, we have a trained but lesser paid person do that?

    This is not only local, jobs at every governmentlevel should be reviewed for actual needs to see if it can be done cheaper, or needs to be done anyway.

  9. Hugger what you said is true about Cornwall and that is why people do not stay and leave for better. Here in Ottawa where we walk in the park a private firm takes care of everything and believe me those who work for NCC couldn’t do better at all. A lot of work can be put in private hands instead of unionized employees who just sniff the air and get paid big money.

    About teachers they are way overpaid and the education system sucks badly and many countries are way ahead in education and the US and Canada rank very low. Cops in Cornwall making $100K and more is completely and utterly ridiculous and the same with teachers. Teachers don’t work between those two careers they don’t work at all – believe me I had my two kids in schools and teachers have the easiest job of all and who gets all their perks and vacations except for the PM and his gang of cut throats on the hill. Big changes are needed and no the education would not go any worse than it already has – a bunch of lazies. Teachers can be brought in from other countries and so far the nursing profession is getting nurses from abroad along with technicians, doctors, etc. Big changes are needed desperately and something is going to happen sooner than we think. Cornwall didn’t stay behind other towns for nothing – nobody wants to go there and when they do and find out what is going on they become depressed.

  10. Yes, people can be brought in from other counties to do jobs. But they are paid at the current Ontario wage level. So, we are no further ahead.

  11. Not all are being paid at our Canadian outrageous salaries. Many are brought in what the Yanks call H1B1 workers and earn less than the Yanks earn and to a better job. What is going to occur in the near future is the lowering of the standard of living and that has just been on the tip of the iceberg. The Yanks are already talking about the US going to be another banana republic. Stay tuned for the big events to come.

  12. People keep saying why do we need 14 firefighter to have a minimum of 10. If you have a big fire and have only 10 firefighters there, they’re going to have their hands full! The national standard for career departments is 15 firefighters on scene if they have an aerial, which Cornwall does. Man power at a fire is everything! If anything they should be striving to have 15 firefighters per shift, not cutting to 13, that’s dangerous and ridiculous

  13. We need to seriously consider how the fire department operates. Fire related call volumes are decreasing while medical calls for ambulance paramedics are increasing as baby boomers and their generation start developing health problems requiring ambulance paramedics. The FD is a huge expense and takes up a large portion of the emergency services budget. A reduction in their hourly wage may be a solution and have an increased wage while at an emergency scene. A recent article in the website addresses how the paramedics in Sudbury respond to 40,000 calls annually compared to the fire depts measely 5000 however the FD eats up $24 million of the $36 million budget. I’m sure it a similar in all cities across Ontario.

    Comment policy reminder

    CFN has a new comment policy. You must use your real first and last name. As well if your email bounces we will terminate your posting privileges.

    We value all input from our amazing CFN viewers and are always trying to improve the viewer experience which includes making this a safe, informative, and entertaining platform.

    If you have any questions please email

  14. Eric give your head a shake, commonsense is not the modern or popular approach!

    I would wager to suggest that you would dare to consider that we could use a mere high school graduate to write tickets as opposed to utilizing the talents and skills of a highly trained and paid police officer. This would suggest that they have more pressing and urgent matters to consider… the day they showed up because a friends sprinkler was getting the neighbours van (which was parked on the road)wet (quarter panel only). They were asked what they would do if it was water from the sky and not from a garden sprinkler. They left bewildered and still haven’t got back with an answer.

  15. Tyson….just try reducing any contracted city workers wages, let alone a fire fighter. They have a thing called a contract. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Legal contracts are hard to break, especially ones dealing with wages and benefits because then the unions get involved.

  16. Council has two clear and legal options to deal with rising costs (real and perceived) there are likely other options if I thought about it for a few more minutes. Council chooses however not to put the effort into thinking for themselves or in implementing tough action to regain control of our situation. Swimming in circles is their exercise in futility although it creates the impression for some that they are actually getting somewhere.

  17. Hugger Cornwall will have no other choice or it will be bankruptcy and try to live under that when Cornwall is already cooked. I read today about the Kellogg’s company in London Ontario is finished and over 200 workers are finished. People even posted that all there is if one is lucky are MacDonalds and Wal Mart type of jobs and this is so mighty true. The Bible doesn’t lie at all and people who do not believe are in for a mighty huge shock that is coming. The vast portion of people will be unemployed and food will be astronomical in price like what happened in Wimar Germany.

  18. The proposed tax hike is now at 3.68%, down from 5.58%. That is much better, but still too high. I’d like to see 2% or less.

    As for Kellogg’s in London, ON that plant actually closed at the end of 2014.

  19. Hugger1 anything more than 0% is too much. Increases have continued to climb at a rate far exceeding the actual rate of inflation. Unless you and I and the rest have bottomless pockets this situation is not sustainable.

    Ontario is a have not province on a downward spiral. Debt is not sustainable. We are saddled with a premier whose economic thinking is that since her party has drained the provincial coffers they are now entitled to massive federal handouts. Problem is that she apparently has not yet been informed by her finance minister that there is only one taxpayer and that the federal government does not generate income it collects revenue.

    Bottom line Hugger1 when do we put the brakes on to stop the insanity that all levels of government are participating in? In other words when do you gas up? Before or after you run out of gas? What makes the most sense? The answer despite being obvious is that most have become consumed with our own needs, wants and for some entitlements and the majority seem blinded to the bigger picture by their personal greed.

    Personally although I try to be optimistic even in the face of despair I have decided not to go down with the ship. Unfortunately prior to the end of 2019 I am prepared to leave Ontario for good.

  20. I agree David Oldham. 0% would be ideal. But, I guess, we have to be realistic that that isn’t going to happen. Tax hikes should be limited to the cost of living or inflation. If the taxpayers have to live in COL increases (if they’re lucky) so should city governments and other governments.

    Insanity in government?? It’ll never stop.

    I’m hoping Cornwall City Council and Cornwall Electric are working on something for the end of the electricity agreement with Quebec in 2019. Hydro One is NOT the answer. I hope they don’t leave it to the last minute. But, as seeing this is Cornwall, it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what they do.

    I am not prepared to move from Ontario. I’ve seen how Anglos are treated in Quebec, that’s not for me.

  21. I lived in Quebec was married in Quebec and would not even consider residing there again as an option. Taxation on all levels makes Canada a poor retirement option. Now factor in that I can get better health care at a much lower cost with little to no wait time many locations around the globe that are retirement friendly and I am running low on reasons to spend any time in my native country. Sad predicament to be in for a once proud Canadian.

  22. Cornwall Electric (Fortis) has no reason to concern itself with the source of electricity. Fortis is a conduit for the delivery only. Profit margins will be maintained as always by the consumer regardless of where the power comes from. As far as council is concerned they will release a statement of surprise January 1,2020 much the same as they did over the storage tank issue. There is simply no appetite for anything that requires vision and. We have witnessed this time and again. The current brain pool is already over burdened and in over their collective heads on the annual budget. Let us not forget Cornwall’s dependence on outside studies. Thinking for ourselves does not seem to be a strength.

  23. David, what’s holding you back? From what I gather, you’ve made a pile of money in Canada, and you don’t like paying taxes, and you don’t particularly like living here. Is there a reason why you cant move to a tax-free island paradise, or would you miss whining and bellyaching about living here too much?
    Just curious.

  24. Mr. Oldham is absolutely right about wanting to go to a better country with lower or no taxes and have a better health care system, etc. Canada overcharges in taxes and is one of the most expensive countries in the world to live and for what to live in snow and freezing cold and a health care that has gone down hill where many third world countries are ahead and an education system that sucks badly and one of the lowest in the world. I was talking to my husband a while ago and he said that Canada has nothing left and without taxes they would go down since nobody wants to invest in this country. You should see the houses and apartments for sale and for rent here in Ottawa and up both for sale and rent for many long months since people cannot afford them anymore. A condo just built so mighty small and a one bedroom almost $400K and what kind of sense is that and no where as nice and beautiful and a good location like Mr. John Markell’s beautiful units on Water Street. There are no jobs and people are having a very hard time. When it is like this here in Ottawa then what is happening in tiny Cornwall. It is about time that the people of Cornwall fully realize this and what is really going on. I see homes for sale all over the country and they cannot sell them.

  25. Cornwall Electric (Fortis) had better concern themselves with this. It will be them facing the backlash if a solution is not found. They may only be the deliver vehicle of the hydro, but they will face the wrath of the taxpayers. A perfect example is gas station attendants. They just collect the money for the gas you purchase but have heaps of scorn heaped on them due to the greed of Big Oil in Canada.

Leave a Reply