As Sudbury city council ponders whether fitness centres, day cares and other so-called non-core services are worth the tax dollars spent on them, the reality of turning certain public services over to the private sector is getting mixed reaction from residents.
As Mike Mooney shoots some hoops before his workout at the city-run fitness centre in Azilda, he said he knows the cost of his membership — which only costs him about $3 a day — is subsidized by city taxpayers.
"I would hate to think that my working out and using taxpayer money takes away from feeding the homeless or something," he said.
But Mooney said he wonders if a private gym would come to Azilda or other outlying areas and says, if the city closed the fitness centre, he might just workout at home.
'Benefit for families'
But Tracy Saarikoski isn't as non-chalant about talk the city might close its 120-space Junior Citizens Daycare.
The Sudbury woman sits on the executive of the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare and says city council should not see the salaries of the 12 municipal daycare workers purely as a cost.
Saarikoski said "research shows that staff paid well is definitely a benefit for families," and that happy staff leads to happy children.
She noted public day care centres have higher paid employees, which means less staff turnover and better education for the children.
"I'm sure there's other programs across the city that may be struggling financially, but we still offer them because we know that's best for our cities, best for our kids and best for our families," Saarikoski said.
On top of provincial funding, city taxpayers chip in $129,000 every year. Many other Ontario cities — from Kenora to Brampton to Windsor — have already closed their municipally operated daycare centres.
No decisions have been made yet, but city council will continue to look at which services need to be public services.