On March 19, 2018 — Toronto city manager Peter Wallace released his report on the City’s longterm financial plan. The report made a shocking revelation: that Toronto will face a deficit of $1.42 billion in 5 years if it continues on its current financial trajectory.
The City’s unsustainable practice of dipping into reserve funds, relying heavily upon the land transfer tax and keeping property taxes to below inflationary levels have contributed to this budgetary crisis. A simple dip in home prices this year, for instance, could create a hole of $72 million to $130 million in the City’s budget.
Despite City Council’s expectation that the report would detail financial solutions, the report simply offered three possible paths forward: cut services, maintain service levels while finding small revenue increases, or work to raise revenue to pay for the vision of Toronto that Council has already planned (see table).
In our view, Toronto has only one option going forward.
With a growing gap between rich and poor in Toronto and our city being named the child poverty capital of Canada, Toronto communities need the support of public services now more than ever and, as the city grows, will need further investments to meet the challenges of a larger city.
We are disturbed that service cuts are even a consideration. The burden of maintaining service levels while absorbing funding freezes/cuts has fallen on the City’s frontline workers. On Monday, March 21st, Local 79 Recording Secretary Fred Shilson spoke to the Long-Term Financial plan at the City’s Budget Committee, focusing on the repercussions of workload pressures on City staff. You can view his deputation below.
Conveniently, the City’s Executive Committee chose not to refer the report to City Council, which means further delaying these financial challenges until after the municipal election.
Good quality and accessible City services are what make Toronto great. As frontline City workers, we see first-hand how needed these services are. The City deserves political leadership that can pursue new revenue options to support the services that Toronto’s communities deserve.