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FMTA Response to Toronto Sun Column

On Nov. 18th an opinion piece in the Toronto Sun criticized the services provided by the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations.

The FMTA board would like to clarify some of the inaccuracies in the article, how the FMTA operates and how we are saving taxpayers and tenants money in Toronto.

The FMTA has been around for 35 years and runs a hotline, outreach service and education project for tenants in Toronto. We also provide numerous education materials to tenants.

Far from being a ‘gravy train' the FMTA has saved tenants millions of dollars over the years. Since its inception in 2000, our Outreach team has worked in exactly 1000 buildings affecting over 160,000 tenants. Our work, made possible by the Tenant Defense Fund, has saved tenants over $7 million dollars, well above what the program costs. It also helps tenants get educated about their rights, responsibilities and services available to them.

The hotline which has been around for over 20 years, helps approximately 10,000 tenants a year deal with a wide array of issues far beyond what other service providers are able to provide. The information we provide keeps people housed, saving countless taxpayer dollars from the costs associated with homelessness.

Last year, our education project gave over 100 workshops to 2300 tenants and agency staff. Our website had close to 30,000 visits last year while our education materials were downloaded or mailed out close to 6,000 tenants. In addition to our City-funded services, we work with grassroots tenant associations, operate a workshop series and work on advocacy initiatives with other community organizations around issues of bed bugs, building maintenance, landlord licensing etc.

Our staff and board have a variety of backgrounds from left-wing to conservative to no political affiliation. As a non-partisan organization the FMTA does not endorse specific candidates or parties. Our City-funded services have always been delivered in a non-political fashion. Our board works together on political issues which affect tenants regardless of their political background.

Most importantly, our services have been lauded by every administration we've worked under from Art Eggleton and Barbara Hall to Mel Lastman and David Miller. We've been independently reviewed by outside consultants four times in the last ten years, are audited every year and supply reports on our activities to the City four times a year.

The FMTA is fully aware of taxpayer disdain for the ‘gravy train'. We are aware precisely because of the work we will do this year with over 35,000 tenants directly and another 35,000 on the web.

Even in the face of rising costs, the HST and a funding freeze the FMTA has recently pushed through painful management restructuring and cost-saving efficiencies. We've still been able to save thousands of dollars for tenants through the Tenant Defense Fund and educate thousands more; all on a lean and balanced budget.

We look forward to delivering good value for tenants in the City as we've done for the past 20 years and continue to thank the City of Toronto for the means to do so.

Kevin Moore
Treasurer - Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations
[email protected]

November 29, 2010

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