Mayoral candidate will secure stable, long-term and predictable funding for Toronto
Toronto, June 8, 2023 – Today, on the first day of advance voting, mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced his approach to negotiating with other levels of government to secure a better financial deal for Toronto. His approach recognizes that, in order to be taken seriously by the federal and provincial governments, Toronto must present a long-term strategic plan with City funding for the services and infrastructure our three million residents need.
“Any mayoral candidate who claims they can fix our city without telling us how they’ll raise revenues and get a better financial deal for Toronto is not being honest with residents,” said Matlow. “Delivering a new deal is about more than just pointing fingers or making friends. Toronto’s next leader will only bring other levels of government to the table if they work with Torontonians to chart a long-term plan that includes appropriate City funding and sets clear expectations for federal and provincial support.”
Matlow has identified five priority funding areas that should be the responsibility of other levels of government:
- Social housing, which was a provincial responsibility until the Mike Harris government downloaded Toronto Community Housing (formerly the Metro Toronto Housing Authority) to the City. Toronto is one of the few major cities in the world that funds public housing.
- TTC operating costs. At one time, these were split by the provincial government. Toronto funds its transit operations through the fare box more than any major city in North America.
- Health care, including mental health supports, long-term care homes and supportive housing, should be wholly a provincial priority.
- Refugee settlement services, including shelters, are a federal responsibility, and the costs to welcome newcomers should not be borne by Toronto taxpayers.
- Court services. A provincial matter as part of the justice system, these should be funded by the province.
Matlow will deliver on these priorities by finally securing the stable, long-term and predictable funding Toronto needs to support our residents. His approach is to:
- Raise revenues to cover appropriately municipal responsibilities and get Toronto’s own house in order, including raising $390 million over five years via a property tax increase of 2% above inflation; bringing in a $200 million annual surface parking lot levy; stabilizing the police budget for three years to yield $115 million; reducing City spending on external consultants by $14 million; leveraging a 2% increase in the hotel tax to raise $50 million; and finding $568 million in savings by rebuilding the crumbling eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway on the ground.
- Develop a 10-year strategic plan to fund the City’s five priority areas with clear expectations of support from the other levels of government.
- Form strong alliances with large cities that have common goals in Ontario and across Canada to strengthen Toronto’s political voice.
- Work towards achieving a City Charter to provide Toronto with similar autonomy to that of New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles over the long term.
Premier Ford should recognize the crucial value of a long-term financial deal for our city, given he recently used the same arguments to secure a 10-year health-care deal between Ontario and the federal government. Toronto already does 10-year capital planning, but its partners in the federal and provincial governments don't provide anything close to that level of certainty and predictability to cities, preferring one-offs to stable funding.
“This has to be a negotiation, not a capitulation, and I am determined to represent Toronto from a position of strength. The go-along-to-get-along approach has failed. While the city has strong mayor powers, Toronto is weaker,” he said.
The three most significant factors that have kept Toronto afloat for the last 10 years – the land transfer tax, gas-tax sharing and the upload of social services costs – resulted from City-led negotiations with the federal and provincial governments and were implemented over time.
“One-off deals and a return to annual budget bail-outs that existed during Mel Lastman and Olivia Chow’s era would be a disaster,” said Matlow. “Our city is in decline because taxes have been kept artificially low and our services have been starved. The only way to fix this city is to raise revenues and negotiate from a position of strength to secure long-term, stable and predictable funding. You don’t bring a handshake to an arm wrestle.”
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.