Other leading candidates’ platforms are missing millions of dollars and information
Toronto, June 19, 2023 – Josh Matlow today released an analysis of top mayoral candidates’ plans and where they hide the fact they cannot pay for their promises. Budgets are not balanced on words alone and the people of Toronto deserve a mayor who will be honest and upfront with them.
Olivia Chow's platform includes at least $175 million in unfunded promises and repeated her commitment to a "modest increase" in property taxes without saying a number. To actually fix our city, and improve lives, anyone asking for your support needs to be upfront about how they’re going to deliver what they promise. Olivia Chow has not done that. Coun. Jamaal Myers, in a CBC interview about his endorsement of Chow said that residents are going to have to have a “very difficult conversation about property taxes” in order to build the kind of city we want. Myers had the courage to say out loud what his candidate won’t.
Mark Saunders’ platform has almost $100 million in unfunded promises over the next three years. His right-wing regressive platform will only make our city poorer, both financially and socially.
The only candidate in this election who has a plan to fight for Toronto is Matlow. A City That Works delivers the honesty that Torontonians deserve. It recognizes Toronto’s dire financial situation and credibly spells out how to raise revenues, control spending and deliver a new deal to make our city safer, more affordable and livable.
“We've been given a second chance to course-correct our city and we need a mayor who is independent and fully prepared for today’s challenges,” said Matlow. “People are sick and tired of misinformation, pandering and non-answers. It’s time to get real and look at the facts.”
The facts are that Toronto’s next mayor will inherit an expected budget pressure of $46 billion over the next decade. City of Toronto property taxes have been kept at or below the rate of inflation under Rob Ford and John Tory, the percentage of federal and provincial subsidies dropped and there has been wasteful spending on political pet projects. As a result, Toronto has stopped moving forward, and in recent years, has seen a real decline in the quality of services. To build a city that supports its people to thrive, we need comprehensive, transparent plans including all revenues and expenditures, clearly laid out.
Matlow’s platform is fully funded, fully costed and doable, where others’ plans are missing hundreds of millions of dollars and key information:
Overview: Kevin Page, President of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at University of Ottawa and Former Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada, said “Josh Matlow’s platform, A City That Works, is comprehensive, transparent and forward-looking. Nine policy areas. Clear priorities, and financial plans on new spending and revenue. A commitment to negotiate long-term financial relationships with federal and provincial governments from a position of competence informed by future service and infrastructure needs.”
Matlow’s fully costed and fully funded three-year plan includes fiscally responsible new investments in Torontonians’ priorities totalling almost $1 billion (uses), matched with $1.167 billion in revenue (sources), plus a detailed approach of how he would negotiate long-term financial relationships with the federal and provincial governments from a position of strength.
Overview: Chow’s platform includes costed policies for housing, mental health programs and support for the most vulnerable, but many promises are not funded.
- Has said she will make a modest increase to Toronto homeowners’ property taxes, but will not say how much.
- States she would fund TransformTO, Toronto’s climate-change action plan, but has not provided a funding source – or where the service cuts would come from to fund it.
- The Affordable Homes Fund was announced with a wrong assumption about how many vacant homes there are in Toronto, leaving $100 million not funded. The costing is reasonable, but the funding source used is stated as “Toronto’s capital budget,” which is already underfunded; either $100 million would have to be cut from the capital budget every year, or a new source of revenue would be needed.
- To restore TTC service to pre-pandemic levels, $183 million in additional funding is required per year but Chow has only committed to reverse the cuts from this year’s budget. She has not provided a source, leaving $50 million/year not funded.
- Completing the Eglinton East LRT requires the City to provide a 50% cost share with senior levels of government for the next 30 years. The City is currently $800 million short of that mark and does not have a revenue source identified to cover it. She has not provided a source, leaving $26.6 million/year not funded.
Overview: has not put forward any new sources of revenue, promising to keep taxes at or below inflation. The few new programs in his platform, which includes little policy, would require cuts elsewhere, which have not been specified.
- Promised to increase the number of Mental Health Crisis Teams, has not provided a funding source – or where the service cuts would come to fund it.
- Hiring 200 special constables would cost $13.4 million (based on a 35-hour work week at $36.82 per hour for an average salary of $67,012) - $13.4 million/year not funded.
- Hiring 200 traffic wardens would cost $13.5 million (based on starting salary of $67,857 for a parking enforcement officer) - $13.5 million/year not funded.
- Hiring 100 addictions counsellors would cost $3 million (based on a starting salary of $57,408 as found on a recent job posting for the Ontario Public Service) - $3 million/year not funded.
Matlow’s platform, A City That Works, is the only platform that is fully costed and fully funded, with all budgetary assumptions laid out on his website. For detailed budget assumptions and calculations behind each policy, please visit the corresponding press release and backgrounder linked to under each plank on his platform page.
“Unprecedented challenges call for a different type of mayor – someone who won’t prioritize what’s best for the political establishment and corporations,” said Matlow. “John Tory had his old-guard establishment and Olivia Chow would bring in her own. Mark Saunders would do Doug Ford’s bidding. Torontonians, I’ve been bold enough to spell out exactly what our city needs to dig out of this hole because I respect you and I hear you. Together, we can get our city back. Toronto is worth fighting for.”
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.
Funding gaps from the other leading candidates are as follows:
Overview: Many of Bailao’s funding proposals are costed, but most are not funded. Bailao has promised to follow John Tory and keep property taxes at or below inflation.
- Housing plan relies on $48.5 million in funding from the existing City Building Fund, with no increase (because that would require raising property taxes). The Fund is currently dedicated to other city priorities, including housing and transit. Has not provided a funding source – or where the service cuts would come from to fund it.
- Platform relies on freeing up money by the Province of Ontario taking over the costs to pay for the Gardiner and the DVP. Premier Ford has said twice during the campaign that he will not agree to this plan - not funded.
- Bailao promises to “reverse all transit cuts.” It’s unclear if she means the most recent cuts in the 2023 budget or restoring service to pre pandemic levels. The former is $50 million/year - not funded, while the latter is $180 million/year - not funded.
- Healthy Seniors program costing $23.5 million - not funded.
- Permanently funding the Toronto Public Library’s Museum + Arts Pass with $2 million - not funded.
- Food security program costing $2 million - not funded.
Overview: Hunter’s platform includes a lot of detail. She is upfront with the need to raise taxes but considerably overestimates how much money that would raise per year. Her plan indicates she would raid the reserve funds and empty the long-term capital budget to pay for current priorities with no plan to meet our long-term obligations.
- Cites “Transparent Budgeting Assumptions” as a $446 million revenue source:
o Says that fee revenues from City Planning and Building will increase, providing $92.3 million to the City. Does not explain assumptions; provides no suggestion she would raise fees, nor why revenues would increase.
o Says the City could get $305 million more from land transfer tax revenue. Does not explain assumptions; City data indicate an ongoing and projected decline in home sales, which do not support this increase.
The platform counts the entirety of her 6% tax increase as available for new spending without subtracting the inflationary increase required just to fund the status quo. $100s of millions - not funded
- Proposes taking $1.3 billion from reserve funds from the City’s already depleted capital budget to pay for new spending. Only $290 million of the City’s $10.9 billion reserve funds are uncommitted and available, so taking $1.3 billion from the reserves would require corresponding service cuts to transit, housing, roads and community centres. $1.01 billion - not funded
- Counts $1.768 million in “internal borrowing” as a revenue source in an odd accounting trick that John Tory used on a limited basis earlier in his mayoralty. Proposes taking money from dedicated reserves for current spending. The platform states this will be repaid with $125 million a year over the long term but there is no plan to cover this additional revenue. $125 million/year - not funded.
Overview: has not put forward any new sources of revenue, promising to keep taxes at or below inflation. He has, however, proposed some big-ticket spending items.
- “There for you” mental health support plan includes adding an unspecified number of “front-line staff” but has not provided a funding source – or where the service cuts would come to fund it.
- Installing platform-edge doors at TTC subway stations, which would cost $1.23 billion - not funded.
- Hiring 50 new police officers would cost $3.76 million per year (based on the $75,218 salary of a 4th-class constable) $3.76 million/year - not funded.