Toronto

Toronto launches petition demanding Ford government reverse funding cuts

The city of Toronto has launched a petition demanding that the Doug Ford government reverse its funding cuts. According to Toronto’s calculations, the funding cuts revealed in Ontario’s spring budget will amount to $177 million in 2019.

City officials say cuts could jeopardize services such as subsidized child care and vaccinations

Toronto Mayor John Tory, left, is pictured here with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, right. Tory says: 'I urge all Toronto residents to sign the petition so we can send a message to the province.' (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The City of Toronto has launched a petition demanding that the Doug Ford government reverse its funding cuts.

According to Toronto's calculations, the cuts revealed in Ontario's spring budget will amount to $177 million in 2019.

The city claims the reduction will jeopardize several core city services, including student vaccinations, school breakfasts and subsidized child care spaces.

"I urge all Toronto residents to sign the petition so we can send a message to the province," said Mayor John Tory at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

"While I wish we could have avoided this next step, I believe it's important to engage the people of the city in our efforts to stop these cuts."

More than 4,100 people signed the petition within the first six hours of its launch, city spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC Toronto.

The city and the Progressive Conservative government have sparred over the funding cuts since they were revealed in the province's first budget this spring.

Toronto officials have warned that, in addition to a loss of services, the cuts may also lead to an increase in taxes to overcome the shortfall.

The Ontario government responded to those concerns on Tuesday with an offer of $7.35 million to help municipalities and school boards conduct third party audits of their budgets.

Premier Doug Ford said Toronto, and other municipalities, can find savings by cutting waste from their books. He suggested municipal governments could aim to reduce spending by four per cent, which is the target Ford has set for provincial budget savings.

Following news of the petition, the Tories suggested they would not roll back the cuts. 

"Our government was elected with a clear mandate to fix the financial mess left behind by the previous Liberal government. We are calling on our municipal partners to work with us to get our province off the path of bankruptcy," wrote Ford's press secretary Ivana Yelich in an email to CBC Toronto.

"If the mayor decides to cut breakfast programs and childcare subsides, or raise taxes, rather than find savings, that is his decision."

While the creation of a petition is unusual, it isn't the first time Toronto has taken this route.

In 2008, then-Mayor David Miller revealed a city-backed petition calling for a nationwide handgun ban.

However, Miller called on all Canadians, not just Toronto residents, to sign the petition.

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