Reactions to transit announcements in the 2017 federal budget are mixed in Ontario.
A tax credit aimed at encouraging the use of public transit and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be eliminated starting on June 30.
That means Canadians will no longer be able to claim transit passes on their tax forms.
Toronto Transit Commission chair Josh Colle said officials are looking into the decision’s potential impacts.
“Anything that puts pressure on people being able to afford transit is a concern,” Colle said.
“One of the arguments is that people don’t actively use that tax credit, and I don’t know that – only the feds could give us that data – but we would be concerned with anything that would at the end of the day increase the cost of transit for any of our users.”
For those who purchase monthly adult Metropasses in Toronto, it represents more than $260 in annual claims.
WATCH: PM Trudeau talks elimination of transit tax benefit (March 23)
During a press conference Thursday in Toronto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the elimination of the tax credit.
“(The public transit tax credit) was very complex, there was extremely low take-up and the money is better spent actually investing in opportunities for more people to take transit,” Trudeau said.
“I think what is important in transit is investing in new transit lines, investing in new buses, making sure we’re responding to the needs that municipalities are putting forward.”
The federal Liberal government announced Wednesday it will invest $20 billion over the next 11 years to improve transit across Canada.
Colle said he was “thrilled” about that announcement.
Toronto Mayor John Tory thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau in a statement Wednesday evening while calling on the Ontario government to make similar investments.
“Many of the funding commitments laid out today will help city council build a stronger and fairer Toronto,” he wrote.
“Even greater fairness and effectiveness will be achieved if the Government of Ontario contributes to the amounts announced today. A true partnership involving all governments will be required to address the critical issues of housing and transit.”
With files from Monique Scotti
WATCH: Elimination of public transit tax rebate surprises TTC. Alan Carter has more. (March 23)
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