Premier Ford and Mayor Chow Aim for Toronto’s Fiscal Stability Without New Taxes

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In an effort to improve the dire financial condition of Toronto, Premier Doug Ford and Mayor Olivia Chow have initiated a strategic dialogue. While Ford agrees that the city is in need of a ‘new deal’ for continuous funding, he made it clear in their Monday meeting at Queen’s Park that he is in no support of new taxes to alleviate Toronto’s fiscal predicament.

Their discussion marked the first substantial conversation between Ford and Chow since she assumed office earlier this summer. As a result of their deliberation, they proposed the formation of a “new-deal working group,” an initiative aimed at ensuring the long-term financial security and sustainability of Toronto’s finance.

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Ford acknowledged the gravity of Toronto’s fiscal challenges and recognized its contribution to the economic prosperity of Ontario and Canada. He emphasized the necessity for governments to collaborate and develop strategies to safeguard services, avert new taxes, and guide the city towards long-term financial stability. The Premier also expressed his eagerness to work with Mayor Chow to fortify Toronto and maintain its status as an economic powerhouse for Canada.

This approach echoes one of Chow’s key campaign promises during the Toronto mayoral election, where securing continuous financial support from higher levels of government formed a part of her and other candidates’ platforms. Past mayors have voiced concerns over the continuous lack of sufficient funding from the federal and provincial governments, forcing the city to bear increasing responsibilities to ease their fiscal burdens.

Toronto City Council recently voted in favor of exploring various new revenue options to address the $1.5 billion budget deficit, which may entail measures like a municipal sales tax or tolls, pending provincial approval.

However, Ford reiterated his stance against implementing fresh taxes and granting the city a portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax, referencing rising costs in groceries, fuel, and mortgages that were already burdening the people.

Mayor Chow expressed that the city was indifferent about the source of funding, suggesting shared expenses for significant undertakings such as highways, shelters, child care, and public transit as potential solutions. She highlighted the importance of sustainability and maintaining the right proportions in any financial arrangement.

Both leaders expressed their desire for federal government involvement in the new deal working group, which will comprise public service officials from pertinent provincial and city departments. They remain optimistic of receiving a preliminary report from the group by November.

In parallel to discussing critical mutual objectives, the meeting paved the way for some healing of past disagreements between the two leaders. Despite their differences in ideologies, Ford and Chow shared candid moments discussing their long-standing families’ ties, reminiscing about the time when Ford’s brother Rob Ford and Chow’s late husband Jack Layton served as city councillors. Irrespective of their disparate political ideologies, their meeting reiterated their commitment to collaborative undertaking, even in the face of potential disagreements.

In anticipation of the meeting, the province declared a $42 million commitment towards housing asylum seekers, from which $26.4 million would be allocated for Toronto.