Ontario Budget: More of the Same

The Ontario budget, announced earlier today, contains nothing new to support transit systems around Toronto.  Basically, Queen’s Park is piggy backing on the projects already underway, the same grab-bag of schemes funded by the federal announcement last week.

There is a potload of money under the general heading of “infrastructure”, but no indication of how much, if any, is available for proposals such as Transit City or ongoing funding of transit operations.

Queen’s Park listened to the call to upload some social spending, but only for the 905.  Currently, the 905 municipalities pay part of the cost of social programs in the 416.  This cost will be taken over by the province.  However, none of the costs now borne by the City of Toronto will be assumed, and Toronto is left in just as much of a budgetary mess as they were before this budget.

Clearly, Ontario’s Liberals are going after the same block of 905 voters as the Ottawa Tories on the assumption that we Torontonians will vote Liberal/NDP even if Queen’s Park bleeds the city dry.

8 thoughts on “Ontario Budget: More of the Same

  1. The Liberals have little incentive to placate Toronto since John Tory floated the idea of forcibly moving civil service jobs out of downtown. For a long time I think many people hoped that Tory actually supported the city, since he did run for mayor after all. Unfortunately it seems that the party it still being run by those who hate the city and has no intention of making a serious appeal to those of us who live here.

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  2. I think the budget was progressive in certain aspects, such as programs for local income families and minimum wage increases, but I share your fustration as there’s nothing for Toronto – just rehashed announcements. Mentioning the money for the subway, the York, Brampton and Mississauga transit funds is in itself misleading, as those are funded through the one-time trust fund set-ups, and are not even multi-year funding plans.

    I am particularly disappointed in that there was no uploading relief, even the drug and disability plans that were alluded to, almost promised, for this year. This makes the City’s job of budgeting even more difficult, and this year, the city’s getting no back-door bailout either. I find this very surprising as John Tory and the moderation of the Ontario Conservatives may help them pick up some Toronto seats.

    I wasn’t expecting money for Transit City, but I thought there would be more for transit capital funding. All we got of mentioned “infrastructure” for transportation are widenings of the 400 and 427, wrapped up in HOV-lane greenwash.

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  3. One 416-friendly move (though not something most voters notice) is the change to the Business Education Tax, where business paid higher taxes to the province just for locating in Toronto. But you’re right, it doesn’t change the amount of money available at Toronto City Hall.

    With an election half a year away — i.e. before the next budget but long after this one fades from most voters’ minds — those vague potloads of money may be intended to turn into flashy new plans during the election campaign.

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  4. In the fine print, there is one interesting line in the budget:

    “The government will work with the GTTA to assess opportunities to provide it with long-term revenue sources.”

    This could be intersting in the long-term.

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  5. Assumption? More like statement of fact.

    I must say I was quite surprised that McGuinty had nothing. His Liberals will still sweep 416, but it won’t be as pronounced as Dion. John Tory will win his own seat, and that will be the only Tory seat in 416, which is distressing, because I quite like Kathleen Wynne.

    Regardless, there is no reason for any political leader, provincially or federally, to give anything to the City of Toronto. This city will always mostly vote Liberal. While I would hope this city would be intelligent enough to realize that, and make it interesting as to entice political leaders to give goodies, that would require the presence of a collective brain. And seeing as how we have a Mayor who thinks that Harper will give us 1 cent of the GST, despite having zero hope of ever winning a seat, you can forgive me if I think intelligence is nowhere to be found.

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  6. I know it is difficult to see the full picture of transportation when we can not manage even the local issue of funding a 21st century LR system. But let’s face it, we do not have leaders, we have managers and bad ones at that many a times.

    Why is not anybody from the powers to be or the grassroots to shout loud and clear about the social and economic issues of micromanaging only the local transit instead of considering the increase of the population that already needs an inter-city and intra-city transportation?

    Please, see the link:

    http://www.thestar.com/article/189434

    and let’s start shouting altogether in unison to wake up the political dormancy.

    Lela

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  7. I don’t know if the timing of the Transit City plan announcement around the time of both federal and provincial budget was more than coincidental. The actual release meant that both budgets would not have the time to reflect these plans. However with elections on the horizon for both levels of government there is the possibility that some money may be thrown to us in an attempt at politcal grandstanding.

    Granted this money will most likely not renewable, but it’ll be a start. The key will be for voters to pressure those who they elect to ensure that more reliable and consistent funding occur once everyone takes their seats at Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. Who is to say the money may not arrive in next year’s budget?

    Steve: The important thing about Transit City is that it gets people talking about what we might build, and this sets the stage for debates about funding.

    However, we have been waiting for “next year” for transit funding announcements for a long time, and it is important that we not reduce pressure for a reliable, ongoing source of capital and operating funds.

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  8. And if this city had a backbone, everyone of the 17 Liberal MPP in 416 would be getting hell for this budget.

    The woman on BT gave George Smitherman crap for it on Friday. That was fun to see.

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