A Toronto City Council request for new revenue tools was “code for I’m going to tax the pants off the residents,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford says.
One day after Council passed a motion requesting that senior levels of government consider a new fiscal framework for the city, including new ways to raise revenues, Ford said councillors need to be prudent fiscal managers.
“It’s very personal to me, I know that place like the back of my hands,” Ford said Thursday. “You can’t continuously put hat in hand and go to the province, go to the feds, even though we’re pouring tons of money into Toronto and supporting them.”
Council shouldn’t expect municipal taxpayers to bail them out with new taxes, he said.
“Guess what folks, there’s one pair of pants that money’s coming from,” he said. “They have to start treating Toronto like they’re spending their own money.”
Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said the province has spent literally billions of dollars helping municipalities with pandemic-related costs, broadband investments and infrastructure funding.
At City Council on Wednesday, councillors were grappling with a report that the city has a $46 billion structural deficit over the next 10 years with rapidly dwindling financial reserves.
Council is required to balance the books every year while supporting a struggling public transit system, building affordable housing and welcoming large numbers of newcomers.
Several councillors criticized the federal government budget released this week, which they argued failed to address the city’s critical funding shortfalls.