Ontario budget doesn't do enough for Toronto: mayor

Mayor John Tory said Toronto was shortchanged in this year’s provincial budget, by a Liberal government that would rather replay a "highlight reel" of past funding than invest in the city’s future.

Mayor John Tory says request for $860M in repair money went unanswered

Mayor John Tory says Ontario's new budget is letting the city down, and doesn't invest in its future. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory said Toronto was shortchanged in this year's provincial budget by a Liberal government that would rather replay a "highlights reel" of past funding than invest in the city's future.

The mayor thanked the province for a few items on Friday — including the power to charge a hotel and Airbnb tax, as well as a tax on vacant homes — but said the province missed an opportunity to join the federal government in making major investments in Toronto social housing and transit.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa's latest budget refers to billions spent on various projects over recent years, but the $860 million of urgent funding, requested by Tory to repair community housing, isn't there.

Ever the sports fan, Tory sent this message to the province: "You can't play a highlights reel from last year and expect people to believe that you're going to be on the ice for the next game."

Tory said his expectations were clear heading into the budget, but the province didn't deliver. And councillors who spoke out shortly after the budget was delivered said they felt the same way, particularly on the social housing front.

Days after reluctantly voting to close a Toronto Community Housing complex damaged beyond repair, city council learned its funding request to the province is going unanswered in this year's budget. (CBC)

Coun. Ana Bailao says while there are some measures to make housing more affordable in the city, the province is ignoring its "shared responsibility" to help TCH.

"Right now, we don't have a partner for the social housing issue in the provincial government," said Bailao, who chairs the city's affordable housing committee.

On Twitter, Coun. Joe Cressy called it simply: "a kick in the gut."

And Coun. Josh Matlow, who has also criticized the city for not doing more on social housing, said the lack of funding hurts even more as it comes on the heels of council shuttering a TCH complex in the Jane and Finch area due to disrepair.

Toronto is spending some $250 million on social housing this year.

City hopes province to match federal funds 

Budget Chief Gary Crawford said he was hoping the province would clearly indicate that it would match future federal housing funding — something Finance Minister Charles Sousa may have done in a response to a reporter inside the lockup.

"We've already said that we'll match a degree of capital funding for the work that's being done by the federal government," Sousa said. 

Crawford said he'd like to see that in writing.

"We're going to be hoping that there may be some new pages that we haven't seen at this point," he said.

Sousa also said the province is investing some $2 billion to help with housing in the city, however that money is being spent over a three-year span and includes funding for affordable housing projects, social housing and anti-homelessness measures.

TCH, meanwhile, declined to comment on the provincial budget. 

About the Author

John Rieti

John Rieti covers city hall and city issues for CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country in search of great stories. Outside of work, catch him running or cycling around, often armed with a camera, always in search of excellent coffee.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.