John Tory slams Ontario government’s budget cuts ahead of Doug Ford announcement

Click to play video: 'Toronto, Ontario government remain divided over budget cuts'
Toronto, Ontario government remain divided over budget cuts
WATCH ABOVE: On the same day the premier pitched $7.3 million to cover audits to come up with savings, Toronto's mayor wrote it off as a P.R. stunt. Mayor John Tory says the City already conducts its own budget audits and is continuing his calls to halt retroactive budget cuts. Matthew Bingley reports – May 21, 2019

Toronto Mayor John Tory has some harsh words about the Ontario government’s municipal funding cuts ahead of an anticipated announcement on the issue by Premier Doug Ford.

Tory, along with deputy mayor Michael Thompson, toured a Scarborough daycare Tuesday morning and spoke with parents who would be impacted by proposed budget cuts.

“We heard from families this morning about how these cuts would and could affect them,” said Thompson.

The Scarborough-Centre councillor said some parents told him that losing current subsidies could force them to leave the city.

At city council last week, city manager Chris Murray said the province’s budget cuts to Toronto Public Health and childcare, coupled with the cancellation of increased gas tax funds, will leave a massive gap in the city’s budget.

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Murray said the cuts, which are retroactive to April 1, are particularly tricky, because they leave a nearly $180-million hole in Toronto’s current budget.

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He also said it was impossible to make up for the loss by finding administrative efficiencies and the only way the city could fill the void, would be to raise taxes or cut essential services.

Tory said he has contacted the Premier directly asking him to cancel the 2019 cuts which threaten to plunge the city’s books into financial chaos, while offering a solution to find future savings.

“I have suggested to him we are more than willing to sit down and look for ways in which we can do things better,” said Tory.

Again, Tory took the Premier to task for the way in which the cuts were announced without any consultation.

Tory also said the war of words has not been constructive, calling out comments Ford said in the legislature last week, when he referred to Toronto Public Health as “a bastion of lefties.”

In anticipation of an announcement by Ford addressing municipal concerns Tuesday, Tory said they city already audits its own budget.

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If Ford’s announcement is more of the same, Tory said he would consider it nothing more “than a public relations stunt.”

“It doesn’t do us any good to get money to do a line-by-line audit that we’re already doing and not to have some consideration on their part of the fact that these mid-year cuts are causing huge dislocation and will cause service cuts in the course of this year,” said Tory.

He added he doesn’t think a single Ontario PC candidate from the city elected during the last provincial election was elected on a platform of cuts. He also questioned the government’s priorities regarding ads fighting the federal carbon tax and alcohol sales, suggesting that money could be better spent on city programs.

“A government that says they’re willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to rip up a contract with The Beer Store in order to make corner store beer possible, but at the same time is cutting childcare and cutting public health, you really have to wonder about the priorities” said Tory.

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