City Budget Watch

Dear Mayor Tory: Have a heart and budget for a kinder city

Today, Social Planning Toronto sent a letter to Mayor John Tory summarizing what we heard over the course of three City budget–focussed events we hosted in January. 

At those events, more than 300 organizational partners, grassroots groups, and residents shared their thoughts, concerns, and struggles related to the 2023 budget. These Torontonians overwhelmingly stated that the 2023 City budget falls short. It does not address our city's multiple crises, nor the major challenges that residents across the city are facing. We've urged Mayor Tory to revise the budget to prioritize the key actions that residents and community organizations are looking for.

You can read the full text of the letter below.

Budget committee concludes its work with requests to the mayor, but no actual changes to the 2023 City budget

In past years, the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee could make changes to the staff-recommended budget, with the final decisions resting with Council. Under the new strong mayor powers, the Committee no longer has the authority to vote on changes to the budget. It is only permitted to make requests of the mayor, effectively reducing its power to an advisory body.

Deputation highlights: Calls to reallocate police funding + support for transit, affordable housing, homeless supports & climate action + concerns over “Strong Mayor” powers

On January 17 and 18, over 220 residents, frontline community workers, staff and board members of nonprofits, and representatives from neighbourhood associations and business groups participated in the City of Toronto’s public hearings on the 2023 City budget. Deputants shared their priorities, expressed their concerns, and argued their case for a better budget and a better city.

Responding to a housing and homelessness crisis: Does the 2023 City budget go far enough?

Toronto’s housing and homelessness crisis impacts, and is of concern to, large parts of the population. It is a matter of human rights. And, for many, it is a survival issue. Lack of stable, suitable housing compromises people’s health and leads to premature mortality. And for those who are unhoused, it is a matter of life and death. 

Massive annual budget shortfalls don't cut it. Toronto needs to raise more money.

Mayor Tory has stated that new revenue tools alone will not solve Toronto’s financial woes, and that the Province and the Feds need to step up. That is true. We need a new deal for cities. But the City needs to do its part as well, and leaving revenue tools off the table is fiscally irresponsible. In this post we discuss a few options the City has.

Creating the Equitable City: A Focus on Child Care, Parks & Recreation, Reconciliation, and Gender Equality

Budgets are about choices and making decisions about our priorities. What kind of city do we want? Does the City Budget deliver a better city, a more equitable city, a city that lives up to our values? In the next few City Budget Watch posts, we’ll take a deeper dive to look at specific areas of the budget and how they shape up to our vision for an equitable City for All. Today, we look at child care, parks and recreation, the City’s recently adopted Reconciliation Action Plan, and its long-lost Gender Equity Strategy.

Budget fails low-income residents and community-based organizations

We are diligently digging into the City’s budget documents. Today, we’ve got a first look at: 

  • the Poverty Reduction Strategy (with one of the lowest levels of new investment since its inception in 2016), and
  • the Community Partnership and Investment Program (includes a funding freeze; with inflation at 6.6%, a freeze is effectively a cut).

First impressions matter. Ours? This budget asks us to pay more for less.

After a week of piecemeal budget announcements from Mayor John Tory, today the City of Toronto released the 2023 City budget. Despite much hype from the Mayor, the budget proposes increases to property taxes and user fees without delivering a better city. Instead, it supports expansion of policing and security as a response to what ails the city. 

Inequitable policies, a decade of austerity budgets, and a lack of sufficient investment in communities have left people struggling with food security, the housing crisis, and poverty. But the preliminary budget fails to respond with investments that are proven and effective — such as well-resourced affordable housing, mental health supports, and violence prevention and youth programs. Instead, police budgets are prioritized over the community services we know communities need.

We’re just digging into the details. Here’s our first take on what we’re seeing from today’s budget launch.

Time to get ready for another crucial, but different, budget season

The 2023 City Budget will officially be launched on Tuesday, January 10. But Mayor John Tory has made a few preliminary budget announcements this week — $2 billion to address the city's housing crisis, a $48.3 million (4.3%) increase for Toronto Police Services, $53 million and a 10-cent-per ride fare increase for the Toronto Transit Commission, a $21 million (7.1%) increase for paramedic services, and $523.9 million for fire frontline services.

As usual, the devil is in the details. We are digging into the numbers and will have more analysis next week.

With the current state of the city and recent pieces of legislation eroding local democracy, it’s more important than ever that we come together to analyze the proposed budget and discuss what communities need moving forward. We’ve got two virtual budget events planned to do just that.  

City Budget Watch is back! What do we know so far about City Budget 2023?

It’s City Budget time again, and for the 14th year, City Budget Watch is back to bring you all the analysis you need! The 2023 City of Toronto budget is set to launch in January, with a new City Council and new “strong mayor” but weak democracy powers. 

Torontonians are getting fed up with the crumbling city, the housing and homelessness crisis, deep inequality, and the continued hardship of many of our neighbours. We expect better from this Council.

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