Toronto releases updated long term financial plan ahead of Aug. 24 executive committee meeting

A City of Toronto staff report released last week says Toronto is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. A special executive committee meeting to discuss the city's operating budget shortfall will take place on Thursday, Aug. 24.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Last week Toronto city staff released an updated long term financial plan as well as recommendations for actions to be considered at a special executive committee meeting on Thursday, Aug. 24.

The report is once again urging the federal and provincial governments to provide more financial assistance as Toronto council continues to struggle to operate through its financial deficit.

“Given our city’s unique challenges and the breadth of services we offer, Toronto absolutely needs a new fiscal deal from the provincial and federal government,” said Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford.

According to the report,  Toronto’s 2024 operating budget will have an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall and $29.5 billion in capital needs, “which both form part of a $46.5 billion shortfall over the next 10 years.”

Although the city has been able to secure more than $2.5 billion through savings and cuts to services like TTC, city council has expressed that Toronto has been forced to create revenue “almost exclusively” through property taxes due to barriers created by Queen’s Park.

“Toronto is facing a stark fiscal reality, and we need to get the city’s finances in order to build an affordable city,” said Bradford. “The cupboards are bare and boutique taxes will not be enough to help the city climb out of this fiscal hole.”

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow’s call for the Ford administration to “step up for [the] people of Toronto” carries an urgent tone as the report threatens significant tax increases, service level reductions and potential cancellations of capital projects like housing, transit and climate action.

“All options must be on the table, which means the city may not have the ability to follow through with helping to fund provincial priority projects,” said Bradford.

During Thursday’s executive committee meeting, councillors will discuss the possibility of a graduated municipal land transfer tax rates for  residential properties valued at $3 million and above that will be implemented from January 1, 2024.

Council members will also consider removing on-street parking rate caps. This, city staff says, will “enable the Toronto Parking Authority to complete a comprehensive rate review.”

According to the city, the newly formed 11-person councillor committee is expected to direct staff to develop revenue sources through a foreign buyer municipal land transfer tax on residential properties; a commercial parking levy; a 911 levy for Next Generation 911 costs; and a city-wide review of underutilized real estate assets.

“Toronto is stepping up to meet our financial challenges and build a safe, caring and affordable city where everyone belongs,” said the mayor in last Thursday’s news release. “Torontonians deserve a city where they can rely on the TTC to get to work on time, where a young family can find housing they can afford, and where small businesses and communities can thrive.”

Although council already introduced a 5.5 percent property tax increase earlier this year — the biggest increase since amalgamation — city staff will be directed to explore the “feasibility of increasing the vacant home tax rate from one to three per cent.”

The city’s report warns the provincial arm that without funding, Toronto will be unable to fulfill its commitment to 978 new planned long-term care home beds. Toronto may also “need to pause negotiations on Provincial Priority Transit Projects and future provincial transit expansion projects”.

But Bradford says that “City Hall must also get its own house in order.”

“The public service has grown 25% since 2017, alone, with little in the way of accountability,” he said. “The city’s operating budget has rocketed from $11 billion in 2018 to $16 billion in 2023. In addition to looking for new sources of revenue, Toronto needs to look for ways to control costs.”

Chow’s executive committee will hear from Toronto residents in person as well as by video conference during its meeting on Thursday.

Anyone who would like to speak at the meeting can register by email: or call 416-392-7033 by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23.

Written comments can also be submitted by email or by mail: Attention Executive Committee, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., 2nd floor, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

— Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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