Toronto City council says provincial budget cuts will hurt families. They say the only choice they may have, to keep services going, is to issue a second property tax bill to Toronto residents.
The comments come after Doug Ford’s provincial government cut $177.65 million from the city’s 2019 budget. These cuts could include service disruptions to Toronto Public Health, Children’s Services and Paramedic Services.
City councillors add that these funding cuts, will put into jeopardy vaccination clinics, student nutrition programs, daycare subsidies, and ambulance response times.
The provincial funding cuts were announced after the city had already balanced its budget for the year. Now, they are scrambling to make up the shortfall. Toronto city council is appealing to the province to reconsider its position.
In an emergency meeting this week, councillor voted 25 to 1 backing a motion from Mayor John Tory that calls on the province to reverse the “unilateral, retroactive” cuts. The only descending voice was Michael Ford, who happens to be Premier Ford’s nephew.
Toronto’s city manager Chris Murray says, “We’re finding ourselves between a rock and a rock.”
In his report Murray, details how the provincial cuts would hurt city services.
“Based on the best available information to date, the estimated funding loss to the City of Toronto Council-approved 2019 Budget is $177.65 million,” it states in the report.
The City Manager’s detailed what the cuts would look like.
- $24 million from the cancellation of planned Provincial Gas Tax Funding increment
- $65 million for Toronto Public Health
- $84.8 million for Children’s Services
- $3.85 million for Toronto Paramedic Services
You can read his full report here.
Mayor Tory went a step further and called the province’s funding cuts to the 2019 budget “torture by a thousand cuts.”
For his part, City Manager Murray said, “You can’t rule out there being a second tax bill.” He doesn’t believe, as the province does, that the city can deal with the shortfall through efficiencies.
The only other solution is austerity measures that would see family and health services cut.
Tory says the city has two choices to cut services, or raise taxes.
A second tax bill in Toronto, as anyone can imagine, would be widely unpopular. That bill could mean a tax hike as high as seven per cent of your property bill.
The average Toronto resident in 2016 paid $4,027 in property taxes. Based on those numbers the average Toronto residents could be hit with a $281 tax bill this summer.
The city has taken the stance, that rather than seeing family services suffer, the city would raise the funds through taxation, to make up for the millions that have been slashed. But that will only happen if the province refuses to change its mind on how it will fund Ontario’s biggest municipality.