Tory says funding, not tax increases, needed for $1.5 billion loss to Toronto
Toronto Mayor John Tory says city staff have crunched the numbers even more on the impact of COVID-19 and the results are a $1.5 billion loss after a projected three-month lockdown and six-month recovery.
“That’s the best-case scenario,” Tory said Thursday, as he once again called on the federal government to come through with badly-needed funding help to not just his city, but other municipalities.
Two weeks ago, cities first came forward with requests for emergency funding, with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asking for at least $10 billion, with preference to cities with large transit systems.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the virtual sitting of Parliament earlier in the day that the federal government continues to work with the provinces to figure out how cash will flow to cities, with Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna later adding that provincial and territorial governments would have to help.
Tory acknowledged the legislative procedure, but said funding should not get bogged down in bureaucratic process.
“Without emergency funding, we’re out of acceptable options and time,” he said.
Fortunately he said, the signals he’s getting are that discussions are ongoing.
“I think there will be a positive result, but I can’t say there has been one as yet,” he said.
As for city measures, Tory said layoffs have mostly been avoided through an emergency leave agreement with unions, where staff can be redeployed, while ruling out any further tax increases.
“We had already put in our budget this year a modest tax increase, plus another modest one to take account of longer term needs on affordable housing and transit and that I think it is a bad time to contemplate other tax increases for the people of Toronto, many of whom are struggling,” he said.