Critics say budget process is badly broken— not equipped to tackle city’s ‘big issues’.
As Toronto City Council prepares to make its final decision on its 2018 budget, a new report by Social Planning Toronto reveals it will fall short by $36 million on funding council’s own pledges on housing, climate change, transit, and poverty reduction.
The report, entitled “Promises, promises”, reveals many commitments made by city council this term, that were simply left out of the city’s preliminary budget estimates. Sourcing numerous budget and council documents, the report also cites information acquired through a freedom of information request and reveals city program deliverables that were not put forward for the budget.
“Despite claims that the budget balances investments with cuts, in fact the budget falls short $36 million in program commitments that didn’t even make it to the start of the budget process”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “Residents deserve to know what happened to council’s promises on housing, transit, and child care”.
“It just doesn’t add up”, said Meagher. “The Mayor and Council are about to pass a budget that they say is ‘fully funded’ but the facts show they are glossing over cuts by leaving important commitments entirely out of the budget discussion, having pre-cut those programs before the budget process even started”.
The report recommends an increase of $36 million to fully fund city council commitments, and a review of the budget process to ensure transparency and accountability on council commitments.
“The budget process is badly broken. This process isn’t creating real accountability for city council. If they are unwilling to fund their promises on poverty reduction, and to seniors, TTC riders, and their communities— the public has a right to know".
Toronto City Council meets on Monday, February 12 to make its final decision on the 2018 budget.