On February 12, Toronto City Council met for final city budget votes. How did your city councillor vote? Check here for our spreadsheet on key budget votes.
In the lead-up to the council vote, Social Planning Toronto released "Promises, Promises: City Council Commitments & the 2018 Budget". This report documented the systematic underfunding of key council-approved strategies and service plans in the 2018 city budget. We called for an increased investment of $36 million in the operating budget, an additional $35 million to double council's commitment to new affordable rental housing development, and revision to the city's budget process to ensure greater transparency and accountability on critical issues affecting Toronto.
In the end, Toronto City Council made a few improvements to the budget but fell far short in making good on funding commitments for several of its approved strategies and service plans. Check here for a comparison of Social Planning Toronto's budget recommendations and Toronto City Council budget decisions.
Finally, read Commitment to Community's budget wrap-up on the 2018 City of Toronto budget:
After months of deliberation, and debate, and months of resident mobilization, the 2018 City Budget has been finalized.
C2C members and friends worked hard:
- Over 100 residents spoke – or wrote in – their comments to budget consultations
- We collected and delivered over 3,600 post cards calling for a $100M investment in improved transit, housing, child care, recreation and other city services
The results of our efforts?
The good news is that after initially proposing a budget that omitted over $40M of promised actions, Council reversed course and invested over $50M to:
- Launch the “Fair Pass Program” which will reduce TTC fares by 30% for 36,000 riders living on low incomes (ramping up to 200,000 riders in 2020)
- Freeze TTC fares and allow free 2 hour transfers
- Expedite the creation of 1,000 new shelter beds in 2018
- Fund 965 new child care subsidies
- Fund 20,000 new recreation program spaces
- Fund free swimming lessons for another 6,500 Grade 4 children
- Fund equity-related strategies including the Anti-Black Racism Strategy, the Indigenous Affairs office and the Toronto Newcomers Strategy
- Fund the City’s Climate Action Strategy (TransformTO) to reduce emissions and create green jobs
The bad news is that
- Growing waitlists for affordable housing (100,000 households), recreation (198,000 program spaces), child care (12,000 children) will not be significantly reduced by this budget, and the City has no plan to reduce or eliminate these waitlists – of for that matter, to reduce or eliminate poverty, inequality and homelessness.
- Instead of putting the City on a long-term sustainable financial footing – by increasing property tax on homeowners to the GTA average or adopting new revenue tools – Council once again balanced its budget through stop-gap funding measures such as drawing on reserves and hoping for continued growth in land transfer tax revenues.
Residents worked hard and the budget is a better one and fairer one that it would be without community voices.
However, the work doesn’t end. The Long Term Financial Plan will likely come to Council in May, providing an opportunity to urge Council to put the City on more solid fiscal footings so that it can adequately fund the services that too many Torontonians are going without. And, this summer, there is an opportunity to call our politicians and new candidates to account, and urge them to commit to building a more equitable and just and sustainable city. Together, Toronto can do better.
Next Up ... Social Planning Toronto staff will be turning our attention to the upcoming provincial and municipal elections. Stay tuned for information on community events, resources and analysis to stay informed and engaged in these important civic moments ahead for our city.