CanadaFord’s cuts are falling heaviest on Toronto
John Tory angered by cuts to Toronto Public Health
Mayor John Tory is not pleased about the Ontario government's cuts to Toronto Public Health. He and budget chief Gary Crawford fear that they will have to make their own cuts to essential services to make up the cost. This comes after the province said they will be cutting $1 billion over 10 years.
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When Premier Doug Ford cut Toronto’s city council in half in the middle of last year’s municipal election campaign, the Star said it amounted to “spitting in the face of the city and its voters.”
Little did we know that was just the opening salvo in what’s turning out to be a sustained campaign by the Ford government to undermine the city’s authority at every opportunity and single out Toronto for specially harsh treatment as it pares back provincial spending.
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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site. ___ Author: Mark Winfield, Professor of Environmental Studies, York University, Canada Although less than a year in office, Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government has already demonstrated a remarkable talent for pursuing short-term gains at the expense of serious long-term costs and risks. The pattern was set early. The Ford government's first action was to terminate the province's cap-and-trade carbon pricing system.
The latest blow came last week with a customarily out-of-the-blue announcement that the government is reverting back to the oldrules on how development disputes in the city are decided.
This comes only two years after the Liberal government set up another body, called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, to better respect the right of city planners and council to shape how the city develops.
Now, once again, developers will be able to fight any application that the city had turned down, no matter how much consultation and planning the municipality did — and even when the decision that council made on a project followed all provincial policies.
It amounts to reverting to the old system that left the city largely a bystander in its own development. As Councillor Josh Matlow puts it: “They’ve gone back to a free-for-all for developers.”
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This is particularly problematic for Toronto, for the simple reason that development pressures are strongest there. Much of the city is being built or re-built, and we’ll be living for decades with decisions being made now. Changing the rules of the game will have a profound effect on what the future looks like.
There was more bad news for the city last week from Queen’s Park.
City manager Chris Murray told council thatin the government’s first budget will cost the city $84.8 million this year alone and jeopardize 6,166 subsidized daycare spaces for low-income parents.
The government is cutting all across the province, but this falls specially hard on Toronto, which has the biggest child-care system in Ontario. To make matters worse, parents in the city already pay the highest fees for child care in the entire country, with infant care topping $20,000 a year. Any reductions in support will make life for young families even tougher.
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And like the changes in development rules, this was done without consultation or advance warning. That means the city has to somehow come up with the cash to prevent child care costs from rising after it has already set its budget and tax rates.
This comes on the heels of another cut that singles out Toronto — the loss of $1 billion in provincial funding over 10 years forprograms.
Again, the province is reducing public health funding in other municipalities, too. But it’s cutting its funding for Toronto programs to 50 per cent of costs, while in other communities the provincial portion won’t fall below 60 per cent.
Mayor John Tory calls it a “targeted attack on the health of our entire city,” and he’s right.
Toronto Public Health funds vital programs that ensure, for example, that our children are vaccinated, our drinking water is safe, and disease outbreaks are contained.
In transit, too, Toronto is a target. The government is brushing aside the city’s authority by unilaterally seizing control of the subway system and announcing its own preferred routes, disregarding years of locall planning. At the same time, it’s clawing back $1.1-billion in promised funding for the TTC.
None of this was spelled out in last year’s election campaign. Ford told voters he would find $6 billion in “efficiencies” that wouldn’t involve cuts in jobs and services.
Now we know differently. This was always about downloading costs onto municipalities without consultation. And it’s clear that in one area after another the government has placed Toronto squarely in its sights.
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Premier Doug Ford has recently taken to characterizing those who oppose his massive retroactive cuts to Toronto Public Health. It’s just a “bastion of lefties” wasting “ridiculous amounts of money,” he said this week. Let us, then, venture into this bastion to see these lefty spendthrifts in action, at Tuesday’s Toronto city council meeting, where a motion from the former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, Mayor John Tory, was being debated. The motion called for the province to reverse the cuts immediately. Councillor Stephen Holyday, of Ward 2 Etobicoke Centre, rose to speak.
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