Mayor John Tory says if municipalities don’t receive funding help from the federal and provincial governments, Toronto would be forced to make unprecedented cuts to city services.
Tory said the City of Toronto is looking at a $1.5 billion deficit due to the lack of revenue coming in, mostly due to a reduction in TTC use, and the cost of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the city.
He said a hike in taxes to make up for the deficit would be close to 47 per cent, which “is just not practical or fair to the city of Toronto residents who pay those taxes.”
He added unlike provincial and federal governments, municipal government can’t run a deficit so they would be forced to make significant cuts to multiple budgets.
Tory outlined some of those cuts which would include a $575 million reduction to TTC service. This would mean a 50 per cent shutdown of the entire transit network. Line 3 and 4 would be shut down completely while service on Line 1 and 2 and streetcar service would be cut in half.
Toronto Fire Service would see a $23 million reduction to their budget while police would have to eliminate $31.3 million from their costs, leading to the reduction of 500 front-line officers, which Tory called “an unacceptable reduction.”
Over 100 million dollars would be cut from shelter services, leading to a 50 per cent reduction in shelter spaces and a reduction of $40 million in childcare subsidies.
A $40 million reduction to recreation services would lead to the closure of 61 community centres while city-run long-term care homes would see a reduction of 1,320 spaces for residents.
More than 19,800 city employees would be out of work with these cuts.
“We can’t afford to put those kind of numbers of people out of work,” said Tory. “It’ll further devastate the GTA economy.”
“We would be left with a city that can’t work and it would be unable to keep helping the people who rely on that help the most,” explained Tory.
“Strong cities build strong economies across this country and strong cities are going to be needed to restart the economy,” added Tory. “If they want a robust economic recovery, we need that help now.”
Toronto saw an increase of 265 coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 9,615. A total of 6,998 people have recovered.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen De Villa said over the three days, the city has seen an increase in the local case numbers. She attributes the increase to people gathering more often, possibly on Mother’s Day.
Tory added this weekend will be a big test as summer-like weather approaches and encourages everyone to keep social distancing.
“Do not host or participate in gatherings this weekend,” urged Dr. De Villa.