Premier steady on revenue tools despite municipal objections
TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne remains adamant: The province needs new revenue tools such as toll roads to pay for expanded public transit despite what Mayor Rob Ford or polls suggest.
“New money has to be found. We have to remove any doubt about that,” Wynne said. “The money will not be found within our existing budget.”
The Big Move – the province’s multi-decade plan for expanded transit – needs approximately $2 billion a year in dedicated funding.
Metrolinx and Toronto’s Board of Trade have outlined suggested revenue tools that could generate piece of the $2 billion.
But a poll released April 12 shows the majority of Torontonians surveyed believe it’s “unfair” to ask Greater Toronto Area residents to pay for the plan.
Mayor Rob Ford has already shown his disgust with using higher taxes to fund transit by pretending to vomit. He has previously suggested the province could use revenue from a casino to fund public transit.
Next week Toronto’s executive committee will review a staff report recommending support for development charges, fuel taxes, a parking levy and a sales tax. The report also calls on the city to support Metrolinx plan for high occupancy toll lanes, highway tolls and a vehicle registration tax.
On Tuesday, Ford reiterated his opposition.
“I’m not supporting any of those revenue tools,” Ford said. “The people can’t afford these taxes. That’s all it is – tax, tax, tax.”
Municipal politicians in Burlington and Hamilton have also expressed hesitation about having their residents pay for the province’s plan.
But Wynne says she’s forging ahead – with mayors on board or otherwise.
“The whole process will be much better if we have municipal support and we can act in concert, but the reality is that we have to take action. And as a provincial government it’s my responsibility to determine the actions that we will take,” she said.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday that it worries her the premier would go ahead with a policy opposed by the majority of Ontario. She has called on the government to cut corporate tax loopholes instead of raising taxes in order to fund transit.
“There’s no doubt that a dedicated revenue stream and revenue tools need to be found,” said Horwath, “but if the tools that the premier is looking at are ones that hit families hard in the pocket book, then that’s not something we support.”
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has called for the government to root out waste in the government before asking Ontarians to pay more in taxes.
© 2013 Shaw Media