Feb 16, 2023
By Jane Brown
It was a long and raucous day at Toronto City Council, but in the end the 2023 Toronto budget has passed with some additional spending for the homeless and seniors.
The budget includes an additional $48-million dollars for the Toronto Police and the biggest tax increase (5.5% + 1.5%) since amalgamation. It also includes a 5-percent cut to TTC services along with a 10-cent increase to the single adult fare.
It also comes at a time when Toronto is facing a potentially massive $1.56-billion hole in its budget.
“It’s been far and away the toughest budget that I’ve experienced, working on this one for almost a year. And it’s the ninth one that I’ve worked on. I think the combination of rising inflation, increased fuel costs, interest rate hikes, supply chain challenges, and increased shelter costs, decreased TTC farebox revenues. All of this coming at the same time as growing human needs made this a very difficult budget. And that was added on top of concerns we all have with respect to community safety and affordability,” Mayor John Tory toward the end of the meeting.
A number of councillors introduced more than a dozen motions during the meeting, including Shelley Carroll, whose consensus motion was approved by a vote of 25-1 and allocates $7-million dollars to changes including the opening of one additional 24-7 warming centre, supporting a pilot program on the TTC that provides mental health support for the unhoused and expanding the Rent Bank grant program.
A motion by Councillor Alejandra Bravo to reallocate $900,000 from the Toronto police’s $48.3 million budget to the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration “to provide, in partnership with community agencies, 24/7, low barrier indoor respite spaces” for people experiencing homelessness failed.
At the end of the meeting, John Tory notified council that he will not use his power to veto the amendments passed by council. He later submitted his resignation as he had promised last Friday when he revealed he’d had a relationship with a former staff member.
“The budget will go forward as it has been approved here and all the various amendments,” Tory said.
Councillor Josh Matlow was among those against an increase to the police budget and cuts to TTC service. He summed up that sentiment by saying, “It (the budget) does not go far enough the unhoused in our city, the people who are struggling to not only have a home of their own, but even just to have a warm place to go when it’s freezing outside.”
To look at all the full City of Toronto budget, click here.
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