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TORONTO, Ont. This announcement falls way below the mark. Ontario municipalities are burdened with a $3 billion dollar annual download from the province, said John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, in response to the Premier’s announcement. We still have little indication that they are willing strike a fair deal for our cities.
At the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Ottawa, Premier McGuinty announced a $217 million upload of services for Toronto over four years, $38 million in the first year. But Toronto estimates that it pays over $700 million annually for programs and costs the province used to cover and are covered by other provinces.
Today is clearly about electioneering and not about lifting the true weight of the download off the backs of Toronto and other cities, said Katrina Miller, Campaigns Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. If they were serious, they would have uploaded at least $304 million of costs in Toronto alone where the case is clear that the province should pay.
She referred to costs recently outlined by Mayor David Miller. They include $133 million in Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Drug Benefit Program costs, $71 million in unpaid bills under formal cost-sharing agreements, and an additional $100 million to restore traditional transit cost-share levels.
The coalition was also disappointed that McGuinty has made no moves to upload social housing costs. Currently, Toronto pays $276 million to administer social housing and homelessness programs that were once funded by the Province.
The Fair Deal For Our City Coalition was formed in July to demand that provincial politicians commit to invest in Ontario’s cities. It has the active support of environmental, labour and community organizations that represent over two hundred thousand residents in Ontario.
Coalition members include African Canadian Social Development Council, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Chinese Canadian National Council (Toronto), Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, David Suzuki Foundation, Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Scarborough Civic Action Network, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, Toronto Youth Cabinet, and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Many others are in the process of joining.
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