Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Starving the Golden Goose

The second floor of City Hall is abuzz with talk about the Conference Board of Canada Report released Yesterday which pegs Toronto as underfunded by $1.1 billion dollars. The report coincides with a recent update on the ongoing negotiations with Queen's Park for a new City of Toronto Act.

The Conference Board's third party study of Toronto's potential growth and economic outlook over the next 20 years is quite startling in its findings. Imagine your City in 2025 with 40% of your property tax dollar going to Debt service charges. If you can't imagine the assumptions authored by Ann Golden and a team of Canada's leading economists, contact us at the office to get a copy emailed to you. 416-392-4038 or

Some of my colleagues will suggest a way out that we all wish would do the trick; namely cutting staff and services to fill the funding gap. Problem is we already have. While Toronto has absorbed downloaded services as well as the staff to deliver them over the past five years, Council have also made a total of $256 million in cuts to balance the books.

The cuts never totally offset the big three budget woes which are:
1) Annual inflation
2) Population and service growth
3) Shortfall in cost-share payments from the Province for Downloaded Social Services.

You have told us you want the kind of programs, services and infrastructure Canada's biggest economic engine deserves. You want the kind of municipal benefits that property tax systems were meant to support. New community centres and libraries wherever there is need and state of good repair to all roads. I believe you are right. We need to be the kind of City that attracts investment. As Canada's largest City, when we attract investment we are attracting it to the Country. When we do well economically, the whole Country benefits.

So, the question arises from Golden's report, why would you starve the Golden Goose? No one would argue the importance of sending some of our tax wealth out to other levels of government to distribute to the nation. Ann Golden and the Conference Board are simply suggesting that out of the $11 billion a year in tax wealth that leaves Toronto every year and never returns, a scant 10% should remain here, making Toronto a world class sustainable city that will strengthen the whole nation.