Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow are scheduled to hold a pivotal joint news conference at Queen’s Park later today, addressing the interim findings of a working group aimed at forging a ‘new deal’ to resolve Toronto’s financial woes.
Addressing Toronto’s Fiscal Troubles
The news conference, set for 11 a.m. ET, is expected to shed light on the working group’s progress in developing a framework to help Toronto achieve long-term stability and sustainability. This collaboration comes as the city faces a significant $1.5 billion budget shortfall, with city council exploring various revenue options, including municipal sales taxes and the implementation of tolls, which would need provincial approval.
Premier’s Stance on Taxes
Premier Ford has indicated his opposition to new taxes in Toronto or allocating a portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax to the city. This stance presents a challenge as the city seeks to balance its budget, a requirement not faced by other levels of government.
Potential Solutions and Savings
Mayor Chow’s office previously mentioned that uploading the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway to the province was under consideration by the working group. Such a move could save Toronto millions in repair and maintenance costs.
The joint statement from Ford and Chow in October highlighted that the working group was focused on shared priorities, including supporting transit, infrastructure, shelters, housing, and stabilizing Toronto’s financial situation. The statement read, “They have begun drilling down on shared priorities… as well as getting Toronto’s finances back on a stable and sustainable path.”
Implications for Toronto
Today’s announcement is critical as Toronto embarks on its latest budget process. Without additional funding from the provincial government and federal sources, the city council may face the difficult choices of service cuts or significant tax increases in the coming months.