There’s no election campaign currently underway, but Toronto politicians were still going door-to-door Saturday morning with the hope of influencing the provincial government.
Mayor John Tory and city councillor Mike Colle were canvassing Eglinton-Lawrence asking for support in their fight against provincial budget cuts affecting the city.
The riding is currently held by PC MPP Robin Martin, the parliamentary assistant to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Tory and Colle were handing out cards to each person they spoke to. The cards urge residents to call Martin and ask her to stop the cuts. They also detail what programs have now been identified as being at risk in Eglinton-Lawrence, including more than 900 childcare subsidies and 16 school immunization programs.
“I want to make it the number one issue at the door,” said Tory, “by going right to the doors and talking right to the people about how there’s a better way to do this.”
This is the second aggressive tactic Tory has participated in this week to target Toronto-area PC MPPs.
On Wednesday, the mayor announced the launch of a petition on the city’s website that urges those same members of the Ford government to halt retroactive cuts to Toronto’s budget.
As of Saturday afternoon, a member of Tory’s staff told Global News that more than 27,000 people have signed the petition.
Tory said he’s been hearing from sources that many PC MPPs are getting calls about the cuts. He’s hoping that the pressure will encourage one of them to speak out against their own party on Toronto’s behalf.
“I think that person in the long-run will benefit immensely in terms of their own respect that is held for them by the voters,” said Tory.
In response to Tory’s efforts Saturday, the premier’s press secretary Ivana Yelich issued a statement pointing out that the province has provided money to find savings with an independent auditor.
“Governments can always do better and we’re challenging our municipal partners to do the hard work required to make sure taxpayers dollars are being respected,” Yelich said in an email.
Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford announced $7.35 million in provincial funding to large municipalities and school boards to come up with four cents of savings for each dollar spent. The move was immediately written off by Tory as a “public relations stunt.”
Among the city’s primary concerns are retroactive cuts to Toronto’s current budget. City staff have stated it will leave a $178-million hole in its finances. City manager Chris Murray recently told city council the cuts cannot be made up for through efficiencies, as Ford has suggested. Instead, Murray said the city would have to look at raising property taxes or cutting services.
City staff are currently preparing a report that will identify potential courses of action. It will be presented in June.
WATCH: Tory increases pressure on Ontario PCs over Toronto budget cuts