2017 City Budget: Day 3 Budget Committee Completes Its Review

That's it. That's all for 2016.

The Budget Committee completed its review of the remaining preliminary budgets including budgets for Toronto Public Health, Toronto Public Library, Toronto Police Service, internal services, other City programs, and accountability offices. See our quick notes on key budgets below.

But first, take a moment to sign the petition calling on the City of Toronto to open the armouries to provide shelter for people who are homeless.

 Statue_of_Christ_the_Homeless__Regis_College__Toronto.JPG

Photo credit: Pjposullivan


Winter is upon us. Homeless shelters are full. Out of the Cold programs and the City's 24-hour drop-ins can't fill the gap from the overcrowded shelter system. It's time for the City of Toronto to open the armouries to prevent more homeless deaths in our city.

Sign the petition here

Read news and reports on the crisis:

 

Toronto Public Health

  • Investments in public health have a good return on investment - resulting in savings in health care costs, social service costs and correction system costs.
  • Toronto Public Health is one of ten health units that the provincial government has identified as underfunded with respect to equity funding and meeting community needs. Last year, the provincial government offered TPH a 1.3% increase in funding but the City only made a 0.6% increase. As a result, TPH had to return $770,000 to the provincial government as these programs are generally cost-shared 75% provincial and 25% City funding.
  • TPH is asking for new funding ($229,000 net amount - City 25% share; Province would provide additional 75% of funds) in three areas:
    • For immunization - the Province requires TPH to assess and ensure that all students are up-to-date on their immunizations but TPH only assesses grade 2 students. TPH is not meeting the provincial standards.
    • Year 3 Urban Health Fund - year 3 of the 5-year investment plan is not funded. It would provide health programs to address HIV/AIDs and addiction issues in the community, with an increased focused on Aboriginal communities.
    • Food safety and health hazard inspection - TPH is not meeting provincial requirements for inspection.
  • The budget does not include Year 5 of 6 funding for Student Nutrition Program for the expansion into 48 new schools and enhancement of existing programs. 
  • TPH is recommending that the cooling centre program run out of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in the Policy, Planning, Finance and Administration division should be continued for another year and evaluated. The Medical Officer of Health thinks the low uptake of the program may be related to problems reaching the target population. The OEM is recommending to discontinue the program.
  • To meet provincial standards, the Medical Officer of Health says TPH would need $42,000 net (City portion) for food safety, $150,000 net for immunization, and $37,500 net for Toronto Urban Health Fund.
  • Councillor Mihevc summed up six outstanding issues with the TPH budget:
    • The 3 provincially mandated issues - new funding to meet provincial standards on immunization, urban health fund, health hazard and food safety inspections - these programs are cost-shared, 25% City, 75% Province
    • Student Nutrition Program - Year 5 of 6 funding of $2,103,700 is not included in the budget for enhancement of the existing programs and expansion to 48 new schools
    • Plans to address drug overdoses - there has been a 70% increase in overdose deaths in BC in the past year driven largely by fentanyl use; TPH wants to be prepared to deal with this situation as it will very likely affect Toronto at some point
    • Cooling centre/heat alert protocols - TPH is recommending that the cooling centre program be maintained and evaluated in a year; look for ways to improve the program, meet the needs rather than scrap the program with no alternative plans to address threats to vulnerable people from extreme heat 

 

Toronto Public Library

  • The TPL preliminary budget proposes increases to tenant leases and room rentals (largely related to premium space like Bluma Appel) to raise an additional $352,000 for 2017; there are also technological changes that will result in a reduction of 8.7 full-time equivalent positions
  • Service cut options were identified to meet the City's budget shortfall but are not included in the budget. They are $4,412,500 from reduced library hours which would result in the loss of 49.1 full-time equivalent positions, and $1,782,000 from cutting the library collections budget, for a total of $6,194,500
  • The Chief Librarian spoke about the brisk business at libraries, justifying current library hours
  • The library budget identifies new and enhanced programs and services that are not included in the budget. If included, these items would help advance the Poverty Reduction Strategy: 
    • Expansion of Sunday library hours at 6 branches: Albert Campbell, Barbara Frum, Brentwood, Fairview, S. Walter Stewart, and York Woods libraries; if included in the budget, this would result in an additional 168 open hours
    • 2 new youth hubs in libraries at Albion and Barbara Frum. TPL has 6 youth hubs now which are extremely popular. According to the TPL website, the youth hubs are "a free after school homework help program for students ages 13-19. Drop by for homework help, workshops, gaming and other activities." The existing hubs engage volunteer tutors in each location.
    • Expansion of wi-fi hotspot lending; this service exists in 6 branches and is in high demand. It allows people without internet access to borrow a hotspot which is a device that they can use to access the internet. With more funding, they could expand this service in existing libraries or look at expanding to other locations. It's currently available at the following branches: Albion, Cedarbrae, Evelyn Gregory, Parliament Street, Thorncliffe, and York Woods.
  • TPL did not meet the 2.6% budget cut target. If it were to meet the target, TPL would need to cut library operating hours by 30,000, a 10.8% cut in hours, and it would have to reduce the collections budget by $1.7 million, purchasing 105,000 fewer items, a 9.1% reduction in collection item purchases.
  • Check out ourpubliclibrary.to to watch adorable children explain what's wrong with library cuts

 

Other Notes

  • The Budget Committee went in camera (a private session excluding the public) to discuss staffing cuts related to proposed budget cuts.
  • Councillor Davis pointed out that City Council has a list of unmet capital needs for each division and agency but not a list of unfunded operating needs. That would be good.
  • The Budget Committee reviewed budget requests from the Accountability Offices: Auditor General, Integrity Commissioner, Ombudsman, and Lobbyist Registrar.
  • The Auditor General achieved her 2.6% budget cut by reorganizing staffing positions in her office. For every $1 spent on the Auditor General's Office, the City of Toronto realizes between $5 and $11 in savings. The most recent figure is $11.20. On average the Auditor General's Office saves the City $46 million per year. Compared to the budgets of other municipal/regional Auditor General offices, Toronto's funding is very low.
  • The Integrity Commissioner investigates complaints about municipal elected officials and City board appointees. It's a 3-person office. On average, it takes about 6 months to conclude investigations. The Integrity Commissioner says that's too long and is requesting an extra $70,000 to use when workload is excessive or for complex cases to hire external legal and investigative support. If the provincial Bill 68 passes, the Integrity Commissioner will require more resources to fulfill the provincial requirements. Bill 68 requires all Ontario cities to adopt a code of conduct and have an Integrity Commissioner. There are a variety of responsibilities outlined in the bill which would increase workload for this office.
  • The Lobbyist Registrar is updating technology for her office. There have been a lot of complaints about the office which relate to lack of up-to-date technology to quickly execute the work.
  • The Budget Committee passed several motions requesting briefing notes from City staff. These notes provide greater details on City divisions and agencies to help inform the budget decision-making process. Topics include:
    • user fees
    • grants
    • child care funding
    • city planning
    • municipal licensing
    • the recreation Welcome Policy, recreation waitlists, recreation client use surveys
    • plans for Shelter, Support and Housing to meet the Council-directed standard of 90% occupancy in all sectors of the shelter system
    • impact of cuts to shelters and the Adelaide Resource Centre for Women
    • Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP) inflationary increases by organization receiving these grants, full-time equivalent positions created in community organizations through CPIP in 2016
    • financial requirements to achieve 2017 poverty reduction strategy workplan deliverables
    • community-level impacts if CPIP budget were reduced
    • roads
    • Toronto Police Service
    • TTC provincial decisions that have impacted the TTC budget
    • long-term care homes impact of cuts
    • Pan Am Sports Centre
    • urgent actions needed to plan for opiod overdose problems in Toronto 
  • The Budget Committee also voted against some briefing note requests put forward by Councillor Layton:
    • more in-depth information on gapping, including impact on youth jobs
    • disaggregated demographic data breakdown that would identify equity-seeking groups such as racialized people, Aboriginal people, women, LGBTQ, immigrants and refugees, people with low income that will be impacted by staffing cuts
    • resources that would be required to help transition people from Ontario Works
    • resources that would be required to implement the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy
    • more details on TTC state of good repair backlog 

 

Resources

City Presentations:

City Briefing Notes:

 

Budget Schedule

  • January 5, 9 & 10 - Budget Committee hears from members of the public at the public hearings (deputations). 
  • January 12 & 24 - Budget Committee meets for wrap-up and final wrap-up to make its recommendations for the 2017 Budget
  • February 7 - Executive Committee reviews and makes recommendations on the 2017 Budget
  • February 15-16 - Toronto City Council meets to make the final decisions on the 2017 Budget

 

Public Hearings (Deputations)

The public hearings (deputations) are your chance to speak to the Budget Committee. Speakers usually get up to 3 minutes to speak. 

To make a presentation at one of the Budget Subcommittee meetings on January 5, 9, and 10, 2017, please email buc@toronto.ca or call 416-392-4666 no later than 12:00 p.m., January 4, 2017.

How to Make a Deputation - Check out the Commitment to Community powerpoint presentation 

Have questions? Want to join with others to make your deputation? Contact Susan Kwong with Commitment to Community at skwong@socialplanningtoronto.org or 416-562-8110

Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 150 Borough Drive
January 5, 2017
Session 1 - 3 p.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 399 The West Mall
January 5, 2017
Session 1 - 3 p.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

East York Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 850 Coxwell Avenue
January 9, 2017
Session 1 - 3 p.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

North York Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 5100 Yonge Street 
January 9, 2017
Session 1 - 3 p.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

City Hall, Committee Room 1, 100 Queen Street West
January 10, 2017
Session 1 - 9:30 a.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

York Civic Centre, Council Chamber, 2700 Eglinton Avenue West
January 10, 2017
Session 1 - 3 p.m.
Session 2 - 6 p.m.

Written comments may be submitted to the Budget Committee, by email buc@toronto.ca, by fax 416-392-1879 or by mail addressed to:

Budget Committee
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, 10th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, ON
M5H 2N2

 

Next up ... Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

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