City Budget Watch
2017 City Budget Passes: Service Cuts for Vulnerable Communities, Lack of Action on Poverty Reduction
That's it. That's all. Toronto City Council passed the 2017 City budget on February 15. Despite calls from community members to "have a heart and stop the cuts", the final budget included some troubling services cuts affecting vulnerable communities. While filling in budget gaps to maintain many critical services, the 2017 City budget failed to take substantive action to advance poverty reduction goals in Toronto.
On February 7, the Mayor's Executive Committee met to review and make its recommendations on the 2017 City budget. The Executive Committee made one significant change to the proposed budget, reversing the massive child care fee hike for families using child care centres in schools. Other than that, we did not see any other significant movement on this budget. The budget still contains over $1 million in cuts to shelters, elimination of the cooling centre program for vulnerable residents, over $1.3 million in cuts to care in long-term care homes, the elimination of 111.3 full-time equivalent recreation worker positions, and big increases to recreation user fees and transit fares. As it stands, this budget fails to make real progress on the City's poverty reduction strategy.
On January 24, the Budget Committee held its final meeting on the 2017 City budget. While taking many service cuts off the table, the 2017 City budget, at present, contains service cuts including cuts to hundreds of staffing positions, makes big increases to user fees, and fails to make real progress on City Council's commitment to reduce poverty in Toronto.
But there's still time to change this budget ... Next up, the Mayor's Executive Committee meets on February 7 to make its recommendations. Toronto City Council meets on February 15 and 16 to make final decisions on the budget.
Welcome to 2017!
I know you're all raring to get back to the City of Toronto budget. Fortunately, it all gets started this week. The Budget Committee has three days of public hearings (deputations) to hear from the public on the City budget starting on Thursday, January 5 at the Scarborough Civic Centre and Etobicoke Civic Centre.
What's your vision for Toronto? What should the priorities be for improving our city? Are you concerned about service cuts? This is your chance to have your voice heard! Want to learn more about making a deputation? Come out on Wednesday, January 4 for a deputation training.
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.
On December 19, the Budget Committee reviewed several preliminary budgets. I provide highlights on the following budgets: TTC, Affordable Housing, Children's Services, Social Development, Finance and Administration (including community grants under the Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP) and the poverty reduction strategy), Association of Community Centres (AOCCs), Arena Boards of Management. Plus see info on the discontinuation of the cooling centre program.
The Budget Committee started its review of the 2017 City preliminary budget on December 16. The meeting included a short presentation on Cluster A, the human services divisions, by City staff followed by Councillor questions of staff. Budgets reviewed included Toronto Paramedic Services, Court Services, Economic Development and Culture (including arts funding), Long-term Care Homes, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, Toronto Community Housing, Shelter, Support and Housing (which may continue to be reviewed at Monday's meeting), Social Development, Finance and Administration (which may continue to be reviewed at Monday's meeting), and City Planning (which will continue to be reviewed on Monday).
What's your vision for the city? Before you disappear for the holidays, don't forget to sign up to speak to the City's Budget Committee! Share your priorities, concerns and ideas! Register now for the public hearings/deputations which take place on January 5, 9 and 10 in locations across the city.
The Parks, Forestry and Recreation preliminary budget includes recreation user fee increases, service cuts and threats of further cuts that, if implemented, would deeply damage community access to recreation across the city.
The 2017 preliminary budget puts forward a $622,200 cut to nonprofit community services as an option for addressing the overall City budget shortfall. This service cut to the Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP) is not included in the budget, but brought forward to the Budget Committee as an option for partially addressing the $91 million budget shortfall. If implemented, this cut would affect thousands of residents who access community services from nonprofit organizations in Toronto. Under CPIP, 300 organizations provide a broad range of programs and services to residents in every neighbourhood across the city. If this cut is implemented, 14% fewer projects will be funded. The final decision on whether to cut community services rests with the Mayor and City Council.