John Tory is asking the federal and provincial governments to once again provide financial support to Canadian cities as the COVID-19 pandemic extends into a second fiscal year.
Rodrigo Diaz M.
John Tory announced that if the highest levels of government do not agree to renew financing to municipalities, Toronto will have to cut up to $ 860 million in capital expenditures.
“I don’t think this is an appropriate time to cut services to people, especially vulnerable people, and I certainly don’t think it is the time for a huge tax increase,” Tory said. “So we would have no other alternative.”
But I am optimistic. I think the other governments will come forward because they will realize that we need to continue making those investments, we need to provide services to the people. “
The mayor of Toronto had advocated for a “Safe Restart Agreement” for municipalities across the country in 2020, which the federal and provincial governments agreed to last year.
The agreement helped narrow Toronto’s $ 1.7 trillion gap by 2020, to help fund the city’s response to COVID-19 and respond to deficiencies in its public transportation.
Tory argued that Toronto and all of Canada’s big cities need a second deal in place as local economies continue to suffer during the pandemic.
“Given the time it took to reach an agreement on the safe restart in 2020, the time to deal with 2021 is now,” Tory said.
The mayor pointed to the reduction in passenger numbers on the TTC as an example of how the city’s revenue has been affected. He said the number of passengers has dropped from 1.7 million people each day to 504,000, leading to a loss of $ 650.4 million in 2020.
The TTC will receive a grant from the city of $ 789.8 million in this year’s budget, but will also require an additional $ 796.4 million to offset the impacts of COVID-19.
Other investments in Thursday’s budget that Tory highlighted include an additional $ 281 million for shelters, plus another $ 15 million for supportive housing.
He also said Toronto Public Health and the city’s long-term care homes will get more funding.