Miller frustrated by federal, provincial budgets
It hasn't been a good week for Toronto Mayor David Miller, who was let down by both the federal and provincial government budgets.
Miller had high hopes for sustainable transit funding and a one cent cut of the GST during Monday's federal fiscal blueprint, but he got neither.
And then on Thursday, the Ontario budget didn't do much to help cash-starved Toronto, which continually suffers from paying for services that have been downloaded by the province.
"It's time for the provincial government ... to stop running surpluses on the backs of property taxpayers in the City of Toronto -- it isn't acceptable," Miller told reporters on Thursday.
He described the situation as "enormously frustrating."
"Our goal at city hall is to build a great livable city for people, one that is prosperous, one that has opportunity and one that is a world leader, and we can't do that when we're continually forced to pay for provincial programs through the property tax," Miller said.
Prior to the release of the budget on Thursday, Toronto Budget Chief Shelley Carroll told CTV's Tim Weber the city wanted the Ontario government to take over paying for the Ontario Drug Benefit Program and the Ontario Disability Support Program.
"That would mean an extra $175 million to my budget," Carroll said.
The lack of funding from the federal government dampened the TTC's plan for a $6 billion light rail transit plan. The ambitious goal for seven new routes that would crisscross the city was unveiled last Friday.
Toronto's budget does not have any dollars set aside for the massive project, as officials instead relied on securing the majority of funding from the provincial and federal governments.
Miller had also hoped to see Ottawa begin a national transit strategy.
"I think the province and the cities agree, with regards to transit, all three levels of government have to be at the table," Carroll said on Thursday.
"It's a national transit strategy that's going to really boost the economy nationwide, and certainly that effort has to start in the Toronto region."
Miller says the federal and provincial downloading of services has caused Toronto's debt to balloon to about $2.6 billion, and that number is expected to grow again this year.
The Ontario budget did address gridlock as a major concern in the GTA, and said new money will be allocated to new high occupancy vehicle lanes on sections of Highways 400 and 427.
The money is in addition to $670 million in funding for Toronto and York Region for new subway construction to York University.
Other transit investments include expansion of Brampton, Mississauga and York Region transit programs.
Toronto will release its operating budget on Monday. The failed funding sources from the senior levels of government most likely will result in a property tax increase.
Miller has said increases will be kept in line with the rate of inflation.