2024 City Budget Proposes Significant New Investment in Critical Services — The City’s Largest Contribution to New and Enhanced Services in Over a Decade

After years of austerity budgets that prioritized low property taxes above all else, the City of Toronto'proposed budget for 2024 promises significant new investment in critical community services despite difficult financial times. Launched on January 10, the proposed budget includes over $152 million in new funding for key services in the areas of shelter and housing, long-term care, public libraries, public transit, climate action, community crisis response, and paramedic and fire services. City of Toronto revenues make up the lion’s share of the funding for new and enhanced services, with a municipal contribution of over $126.5 million. 

If Council supports the proposed budget, the City’s contribution to new and enhanced services will be the largest investment it’s made in a single year over the past decade. In comparison, the City’s 2023 budget included $61.5 million in municipal revenues for new and enhanced services — less than half the amount included in the 2024 proposed budget.


What Services Will Be Improved?

Source: BudgetTO, 2024 Budget Launch, Presentation by the City Manager, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer, January 10, 2024.  https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2024/bu/bgrd/backgroundfile-242095.pdf 


Funding for new and enhanced services includes: 

  • $31 million for the City’s Winter Warming Response Plan and $35 million for shelter services for refugees and asylum seekers (part of the $82 million for shelter and housing)
  • $26 million for the TTC’s safety, security and wellbeing program and $1.2 million for the Environment & Climate Division to develop emissions performance standards for buildings (part of the $30 million for transit services and sustainability)
  • almost $17 million for direct nursing hours at the City’s long-term care homes (supported by provincial funding) and $2.5 million for the Toronto Public Library’s Open Hours Implementation Plan, which will expand operating hours at a number of library branches throughout the week and add Sunday service to an additional 8 branches (part of the $20 million for community initiatives)
  • almost $13 million to expand the Toronto Community Crisis Service to 24/7 service across the city and $5.5 million to hire 52 new firefighters and 62 new paramedics in 2024 (part of the $19 million for community safety)


State of the City’s Infrastructure Still Expected to Worsen 

In our city, communities are struggling, infrastructure is crumbling, and public services are woefully underfunded. New investment in core services is long overdue. It’s a move in the right direction, but unfortunately, it’s not enough. Years of austerity will require years of renewed investment by every order of government.

The City’s State of Good Repair (SOGR) backlog is one indicator of our crumbling city. The SOGR backlog shows how much money the City needs — and doesn’t have — to maintain its assets, such as transit stations, infrastructure and vehicles, community and recreation centres, libraries, roads and bridges, and other facilities, in a state of good repair. City staff project the SOGR backlog will increase from $10.6 billion at the end of 2023 to $22.7 billion in 2033, based on current funding availability. The City-Province New Deal agreement offers some promise for the future with the planned upload of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway from the City to the Province. Once completed, this will free up much-needed funding to support the upkeep of transit, transportation, and other critical infrastructure.


Source: BudgetTO, 2024 Budget Launch, Presentation by the City Manager, Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer, January 10, 2024.  https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2024/bu/bgrd/backgroundfile-242095.pdf 


City Budget Proposes Substantial Property Tax Increase to Improve City Services and Address City Financial Crisis

In a move to raise revenues to support critical services and infrastructure and stabilize City finances, the 2024 City budget includes a 9% residential property tax increase. For the average home assessed at $694,381, the property tax increase amounts to an additional $321 for 2024, or an extra $26.75 per month, for a total property tax bill of $3,940 in 2024. This year, revenues from property taxes will generate $5.341 billion, including $380 million from the property tax increase, to support critical programs and services across the city. 

The budget also includes a 1.5% increase to the City Building Fund. Based on the average home, the City Building Fund increase will result in an additional $53 for 2024, or $4.42 per month. The City Building Fund is expected to generate $315 million in revenue in 2024 for much-needed affordable housing and public transit infrastructure. Further, water and solid waste management rates are set to increase by 3%, amounting to an average increase of $30 for water services and $9–$16 for garbage collection in 2024.

For seniors and people with disabilities with lower incomes, the City has programs that can allow homeowners to have the increase to their property tax, water and solid waste bills deferred or cancelled. These programs can help people with lower incomes while still allowing the City to raise urgently needed revenues.

The decision of past Mayors and Councils to prioritize low property taxes has contributed substantially to the deterioration of our city and the multiple crises we witness in our neighbourhoods and communities every day. The proposed property tax increase in this year’s budget is an important step to raise revenues to support critical community services and infrastructure and to realistically begin to address the City’s financial challenges. 


Fair Funding and Intergovernmental Responsibility

The City-Province New Deal agreement makes important advances to achieve fairer funding for Toronto. Much work remains to ensure that the City of Toronto has the revenue sources and tools needed to raise funds for a better and more equitable city. Most urgently, the federal government needs to act. The City is calling on the federal government to provide $250 million in this year’s budget to support the shelter and service needs of refugees. If the federal government refuses to provide this funding, City Council will have to consider further property tax increases and/or services cuts. The federal government needs to pay its fair share.

In the days and weeks to come, the SPT team will take a deeper dive into the 2024 City budget and share opportunities to learn more and participate in this important work.    


Header image: City of Toronto's Budget presentation

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