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TORONTO City council should throw open its doors and work with the community in a meaningful way on budget priorities in order to build support for a new deal from the provincial and federal governments, says the Toronto Civic Action Network.

“As we said in our deputation to City Hall on Monday, we find the budget process to be mostly meaningless and demeaning,” said TorontoCAN co-ordinator Tanya Gulliver. “Decisions about how money will be spent in our city are made behind closed doors.”

“Now, after yesterday’s federal budget, the doors are not only closed to the public but there isn’t even anyone meeting behind them.”

The community and labour coalition understands the frustration city councillors must feel in dealing with a provincial government who hasn’t been supportive of Toronto, Gulliver said. Provincial and federal governments have downloaded and sideloaded services without concern for the financial or human capacity of the city to deal with these new additions.

However, the city does not consult with the community in a meaningful way about its budget priorities, Gulliver said. TorontoCAN was one of almost 100 organizations and individuals that made deputations to City Hall on Monday. The current breakdown in the budget process means our concerns have not been debated or given any kind of consideration. In fact, Gulliver said, it just reinforces the feeling that something in the democratic process is broken.

“If the city would actively involve the community, it would be able to mobilize the support of thousands of residents who understand the toll that federal and provincial policies are taking on our city,” Gulliver said. “Residents would understand much better the difficulties the city is facing and the need for tax increases that exceed the increase in the cost of living. Residents would understand that it is federal and provincial policies that are forcing the city to pay for such things as services that should not be loaded onto a limited property tax base.”

The foundation for community support is already there. TorontoCAN, the United Way of Greater Toronto, the Chinese Canadian National Council and the Toronto Board of Trade have all called for a five-year funding agreement between the city and provincial and federal governments.

The City should work with its residents and all of their organizations to build a broad coalition that has widespread support that senior governments cannot afford to ignore, Gulliver said.


For more information, contact:
Tanya Gulliver, 416-598-4521 ext 225 - 416-527-4081 (cell)