Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services and an uncertain future
“This is a crisis of magnitude…and we can’t afford not to act.”
That is where the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, stands today, after a week of turmoil surrounding $1 billion in provincial funding cuts announced on Monday night, with the Ontario government threatening to shut down Toronto’s water utility unless Ottawa agrees to new service agreements by the end of the week.
With the largest deficit in his first budget in over a decade, the mayor announced a series of measures designed to ease the crisis and ensure Toronto can continue to pay its bills in the future.
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“It’s a little over a year until my projected 2018 budget,” he said from City Hall on Tuesday morning. “But the city can’t just survive on what we had before. The city can’t afford to continue to have $100-million in provincial money go away.”
On Tuesday, the city announced a five-point plan to cut $500 million in operating and capital costs, and to balance next year’s budget to $11.5 billion, but without reducing service levels. Here’s what City Council said when it voted to approve the measures on Tuesday:
1. Keep our service level agreement
The city is still on the same level it had when the current agreement with Ontario came into place in 2012.
The mayor wants to maintain service levels that ensure Toronto is able to continue to provide a range of basic services to residents who need them. The city will continue to offer:
Free TTC subway to Airport Line services.
A $10-to-$12-a-day basic TTC home customer subsidy.
TTC subway and streetcar to Keele St., Markham St. stations.
TTC streetcar to Scarborough Centre Station.
A limited number of free parking spaces on weekends and during peak hours