About City Budget Watch
Social Planning Toronto's City Budget Watch is back for the 2020 City of Toronto budget process! We'll be bringing you up-to-date reports and analysis on each step of the City budget process from launch date on Friday, January 10, to final votes at City Council on February 19. We'll let you know how you can learn more, get involved, and have your say on the 2020 budget.
The City Budget Watch Blog is authored by Beth Wilson. Beth is our lead on policy and research at Social Planning Toronto, starting at our organization in 2002. She has a Master of Social Work (MSW), Policy, Organization and Community.
Sign-up for City Budget Watch email updates
Budget Process Concludes with Minor Tweaks, Leaving Big Challenges Ahead for City Council and the Next Mayor
On February 15, the Mayor and City Council met for a marathon 12½ hour budget meeting, resulting in a final 2023 budget that looked much like it did when it was launched just over five weeks ago.
Welcome but Minor Tweaks
A majority on Council, including the Mayor, supported an amendment, allocating $7 million to enhance select programs and services using savings identified by City staff and funds from a non-program account. An additional $1 million from a non-program account was used to expand eligibility for property tax cancellation and deferral and water and solid waste rebate and deferral programs for qualifying low-income households. Several councillors across the political spectrum worked together to craft this ‘consensus motion.’
Stunning News from City Hall, Strong Mayor Powers, & the Budget Vote
On Friday evening, the Toronto Star broke the story that Mayor Tory had been in a relationship with a former staff member from his office which came to an end last month. The mayor indicated that the relationship started during the pandemic when the former staffer was in his employ. Shortly after this stunning news became public, the mayor announced his intention to resign from office at a hastily-organized press conference. The mayor’s announcement that he would resign has raised many questions about the final budget vote, set for Wednesday, February 15, and the operation of Council going forward under strong mayor powers (or not).
In a 15–11 Vote, Toronto City Council Rejects Board of Health Recommendations to Declare a Public Health Crisis & Open 24/7 Warming Centres
At its meeting on Wednesday, a majority of City Council (15-11), including the Mayor, voted against opening 24/7 warming centres for unhoused residents and declaring a public health crisis in the City of Toronto related to the lack of access to 24-hour indoor space.
The following Toronto Board of Health recommendations were rejected by a majority of Council:
- City Council declare a public health crisis in the City of Toronto based on systemic failure of all three levels of government to provide adequate 24-hour, drop-in and respite indoor spaces, and call for the immediate provision of safe, accessible 24-hour respite spaces that are accessible through walk-in access.
- City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter Support and Housing Administration to provide 24/7 indoor warming locations until April 15, 2023, possibly including City of Toronto Warming Centres, and locations provided by community organizations, including faith-based groups, that would provide low-barrier, walk-in access to people in need of a safe place to spend the night.
Budget Analysis & News
"Toronto After a Decade of Austerity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
This report looks at how our city has progressed, declined, or stagnated — when it comes to housing, child care, public transit, and cycling and walking — as a result of budget choices made over the past decade. Learn why it's urgent that we move away from austerity toward building a more affordable, fair, & caring city.
Our partners are also analyzing the budget through various lenses. Read some of their work here »
On the budget:
- A date with big city budgets
- Toronto's proposal for balanced budget needs $77 million from federal government
- Toronto's infrastructure costs don’t end once construction is done
On growing support for a tax on vacant homes and higher taxes on luxury homes:
- City puts plan to tax vacant homes on hold, but the idea isn't dead quite yet
- Canada needs a lot more rental housing. A tax on empty condos is part of the solution
- City Councillor favours tax on vacant homes in Toronto
- Growing push to tax both vacant, luxury homes during city's budget process
- Toronto's 2020 budget is just a chapter in a bigger book
- Toronto should put a tax on vacant homes
- Toronto’s 2020 budget would be improved with a tax on vacant homes
- Proposal for more real estate taxes is expected to heat up Toronto’s budget debate
On marginalization and inequity:
- No extra funding for Toronto fund that helps prevent evictions
- Toronto’s economic boom is not being felt in every neighbourhood
On gun violence:
- $6M anti-violence funding boost passes first budget hurdle, prompting both praise and concern
- ‘It’s good to see the city invest in communities again’: Tory’s promise for $6 million to youth programs brings hope of shift on gun violence
- Days after Airbnb killings, Mayor Tory pledges $6 million in new money for youth violence prevention
- Toronto's 2020 budget proposal has little city funding to respond to escalating gun violence
On transit and transportation:
- TTC fare enforcement crackdown doesn’t feel all that fair
- How the Gardiner Expressway hogs the road during budget talks
- Op-ed: The city balances its budget on the backs of students
- Billions to spend on transit renewal but what do we get?
- TTC staff release $4.6B shopping list, including new vehicles, station upgrades
- Toronto’s new streetcars are sleeker and roomier, but you could be waiting up to 25 per cent longer for a ride
- TTC's 10-cent fare hike doesn’t buy much transit
- Will Toronto be getting more new streetcars? The battle begins today with the city's draft budget
- They’re the ‘beating hearts’ of the city’s neighbourhoods. So why are Toronto’s public libraries still chronically underfunded?
Support the Vacant Homes Tax
It didn't make it into the 2020 City Budget, but we need to keep pushing for Council to take this action—one of the many needed to address our housing crisis—in 2021.