2020 City Budget: All the events, new research, and the latest coverage

On Friday, January 10, the City of Toronto launched its 2020 staff-recommended budget. It's the first step towards a final budget vote on February 19. At the moment, we're knee-deep in City budget documents, combing through all of the details to better understand this year's budget and what it means for communities across this city - the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the days and weeks to come, we'll share our analysis and insights with you. 

In this first City Budget Watch post of 2020, learn more about our pre-budget report, "Toronto After a Decade of Austerity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". Check your calendar because there are lots of budget forums, town halls, and trainings coming up - as well as opportunities to speak to Budget Committee members at public deputations! While you're at it, read the latest media coverage on the City budget.

Toronto After a Decade of Austerity - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On January 8, in the lead up to the City of Toronto 2020 budget launch, we released Toronto After a Decade of Austerity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, a new report that looks at how our city has progressed, declined, or stagnated over the past decade in three key areas: housing; child care; and public transit, cycling, and walking. In the report, we assess the current state of the city after a decade of austerity budgets using 20 quantitative indicators and offer resolutions to build a better city.

The data, with a few notable exceptions, paints a grim picture of the city at the end of the '10s. After a decade of austerity budgets, life is significantly more challenging for many Torontonians. The affordable housing and homelessness crisis has intensified, child care is expensive and hard to come by, transit users experience numerous hurdles getting around the city, and pedestrian and cyclist safety remains in jeopardy.

Resolutions for a Better City

There is one common denominator that unites all of these issues, and that is proper funding. A decade of low property taxes - the lowest rate in the GTA, Hamilton, and Ottawa - and a refusal by City Council to adopt new revenue tools has starved the City of revenue to pay for important programs, services, and infrastructure.

Fortunately, the prospect for change began to take shape at the close of 2019. In December 2019, Mayor Tory made a bold move to publicly advocate to increase property taxes beyond the rate of inflation in 2020 and for the next six years. The Mayor proposed increasing the City Building Fund, a property tax levy, to pay for public transit and affordable housing infrastructure. The additional funds will allow the City to borrow $6.6 billion over the next 6 years to invest in these key areas.

While it's an important first step, it would be a mistake to stop there. The City has considerable challenges and lots of ground to make up after a decade of austerity. In our report, we put forward resolutions for a better city, including short-term, medium-term, and long-term options to fund much-needed programs, services, and infrastructure.

Three immediate options include introducing a Vacant Home Tax, re-introducing the Vehicle Registration Tax, and increasing the Municipal Land Transfer Tax for luxury homes.

The City of Toronto has additional revenue tools available through the City of Toronto Act and other legislation. In the medium term, Toronto City Council should review the revenue tools available and make choices about how best to raise revenues. 

Finally, there are tax options that the City of Toronto does not currently have the authority to enact. For example, the City has rightly advocated for a portion of the provincial sales tax. However, that is a decision of the provincial government. In the long term, we should continue to advocate for the tools the City needs to fund critical services.

The 2020 City of Toronto budget offers Toronto City Council its first opportunity to turn the corner on austerity budgets, adopt new revenue tools, and invest in our city. Between now and February 19 when City Council holds its final vote, Toronto City Council has an opportunity to take the next step in building a better city.

Read SPT's "Toronto After a Decade of Austerity" here
Read media coverage on the City budget & our work here, here, here, and here

 

Read the Latest Media Coverage on the Budget

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2020 City Budget: Have Your Say!

You have an opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns, and advice about the City of Toronto's 2020 budget! Register to speak at one of the Budget Committee's four public deputations taking place on January 20 and 21. Everyone is welcome.

Key dates to register to speak at Budget Committee meetings:

January 20, 2020
• Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 1; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
• Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards


January 21, 2020
• Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
• North York Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards

To register to speak, contact buc@toronto.ca and indicate which date, location and time you wish to attend.

Send Budget-related Comments & Feedback

If you cannot attend in person to make a deputation at one of the Budget subcommittee meetings, you can submit a written deputation to the Budget Committee by email to buc@toronto.ca, or by mail to Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., 10th floor, West Tower, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2.

You can also send a letter or email to your local City Councillor. For information on how to contact your City Councillor, call 311 or visit toronto.ca/council.

 

You're Invited! Budget Forums, Town Halls, & Trainings

Learn about the City's 2020 budget process and how you can get involved to shape its outcome!

Jan. 14
6-9 pm
Toronto City Hall, Committee Rm 3, 2nd flr
100 Queen Street West

Training: How to Speak at a Government Committee
Hosted by Progress Toronto

Register here.

Jan. 15
6-8:30 pm
North York Civic Centre
5100 Yonge Street

Training: Making a Deputation
Hosted by TTCriders and Toronto Youth Cabinet

Register here.

 

EAST YORK BUDGET CONSULTATION IS CANCELLED TO BE RESCHEDULED

Jan. 15
7-9pm
East York Civic Centre, Ctte Rm A
850 Coxwell Avenue

East York Budget Consultation
Hosted by Councillors Brad Bradford and Paula Fletcher

More info: Councillor_Bradford@toronto.ca / 416 338 2755 or Councillor_Fletcher@Toronto.ca / 416 392 4060

Jan. 16
2-4:30 pm
West Scarborough Community Legal Services
2425 Eglinton Avenue East

Training: Making a Deputation
Hosted by Social Planning Toronto, Power in Community, & Voices of Scarborough

Registration required: iahmed@socialplanningtoronto.org

Jan. 16
6-8pm
City Hall, Committee Room 2
100 Queen Street West

Downtown Budget Town Hall
Hosted by Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam, Joe Cressy, and Mike Layton

RSVP here. 

Jan. 22
6:30-8:30 pm
Dorset Park Community Hub
1911 Kennedy Road, #105

Scarborough Community Forum
Hosted by Scarborough Civic Action Network

Registration required: scarboroughcivicaction@gmail.com

Jan. 24
12-10 pm
209 Victoria Street (Li Ka Shing building), 2nd floor auditorium

Understanding Toronto's proposed City Budget with a Toronto Star city hall reporter, Jennifer Pagliaro
Find out what the proposed budget means for communities, patients and health in the city.
Hosted by the Centre Talks committee and the Feedback Thursdays groups from the Centre for Urban Health Solutions, St. Michael’s Hospital

Registration required: centrelist@smh.ca

NEW DATE!

Jan. 29
7-9pm
East York Civic Centre, Council Chambers
850 Coxwell Avenue

East York Budget Consultation
Hosted by Councillors Brad Bradford and Paula Fletcher

More info: Councillor_Bradford@toronto.ca / 416 338 2755 or Councillor_Fletcher@Toronto.ca / 416 392 4060

Feb. 6
6-8:30 pm
West Scarborough Community Legal Services
2425 Eglinton Avenue East

Scarborough Budget Town Hall
Hosted by Social Planning Toronto, Power in Community, & Voices of Scarborough

Registration required: iahmed@socialplanningtoronto.org

Feb. 8
1:30-4pm
Barbara Frum Library
20 Covington Road

Lawrence Heights City Budget Forum (Ward 8)
Hosted by Social Planning Toronto and the Lawrence Heights Inter-Organizational Network

Registration required: maria-saroja@socialplanningtoronto.org

Feb. 12
6-9 pm
Progress Toronto
1179 King Street West, #202

Training: How to Phone Bank for Our City
Hosted by Progress Toronto

Register here.

Feb. 19
4-7 pm
City Hall
100 Queen Street West

City Budget Field Trip
Hosted by Progress Toronto

Register here.

 

Important Budget Process Dates

Jan. 10 Capital and Operating Budgets launched
Jan. 15–17 Budget Committee reviews budget briefings
Jan. 20 & 21 Deputation days
Jan. 28 & Feb. 4 Budget Committee wraps up its work, makes recommendations
Feb. 13 Executive Committee makes its recommendations
Feb. 19 City Council votes on final budgets

Learn more about the 2020 budget process on the City's website.
Drop by City Hall at 100 Queen Street West to watch a meeting or watch online on Toronto City Council's youtube channel.

 

Last But Not Least ... It's a Symphony of Services

The 2020 City of Toronto budget has its own music video.

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