Promises, Promises: City Council Commitments & The 2018 Budget

Social Planning Toronto’s budget brief, Promises, Promises, documents the systematic underfunding of key council-approved strategies and service plans in the 2018 city budget. Social Planning Toronto analysis indicates that to meet the commitments council has made, this budget would require:

  • an increased investment of $36 million in the 2018 city operating budget;
  • an additional $35 million to double council’s commitment to new affordable rental housing development;
  • a revision of the city’s budget process to ensure transparency and accountability on critical issues affecting Toronto.

The report presents funding options to support council-approved strategies and service plans.

Over the last several years, we have witnessed increasing concern over the ability of the city to keep pace with the challenges we face. These growing concerns go above and beyond access to affordable housing and emergency shelter. Communities are also struggling to access affordable recreation programs, high quality child care and reliable public transit. Residents want to ensure that their local parks, public libraries and community centres are well resourced to support strong neighbourhoods. They are disturbed by rising inequality, inequities faced by racialized and immigrant communities, and the lack of good jobs in our city. Community members worry about the daunting challenges of climate change for our city and the generations to come. 

Many of these issues are echoed in Commitment to Community’s ‘Voices of Toronto Speak Up’, a report documenting the concerns of hundreds of residents about life in Toronto and their vision for a better city. Similarly, through the city budget process, residents have spoken out about conditions in the city and the need for renewed investment and leadership.

Over the years, Toronto City Council has adopted many strategies and service plans in response to community concerns, to meet urgent needs, and to advance the city’s social, cultural and economic goals. However, even when council unanimously endorses these plans and strategies, there is no certainty that they will be implemented. A second vote is required during the budget process to fund each plan and strategy, and there is no guarantee that they will be fully funded.

This report provides a detailed analysis of the 2018 city budget and the 2018 implementation costs for advancing key council-approved strategies and service plans focused on recreation, parks, newcomers, strong neighbourhoods, climate change action, poverty reduction, public transit, child care, affordable housing, middle childhood, seniors and youth.

In May 2017, a city staff report was released documenting the 2018 implementation costs for a variety of council-approved service plans and strategies. Using this costing document, additional analysis provided by city staff through a freedom of information request, and city budget reports and documents, we assess the degree to which plans and strategies are funded in the 2018 budget. This report also reflects on the current budget process and makes recommendations in response to findings from this analysis.

Our analysis is based on the state of the 2018 city budget as of February 6, 2018 when the Executive Committee completed its proceedings. As of the publication of this report, the budget process was entering its final stages. Council has one remaining opportunity to make changes to the budget at its February 12 and 13 meeting where final budget votes will take place.

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