Mayor John Tory went door-to-door in a midtown riding on Saturday morning as he continued to put pressure on PC MPP’s over tens of millions of dollars in retroactive cuts to municipalities.
Tory, Ward 8 Coun. Mike Colle and a group of volunteers staged the canvass in the area of Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue, which is part of the Eglinton-Lawrence riding currently represented by Progressive Conservative MPP Robin Martin.
Speaking with reporters during a break, Tory said that the plan is to conduct similar canvasses right across the city, including in the ridings held by all 11 Toronto-area Progressive Conservative MPPs.
“I am hoping the residents, and I know many of them are already concerned about these cuts, will either pick up the phone or go online and sign the petition and I think as we see that happen and as we see that communication with government MPP’s, hopefully one of them – just one – will have the courage to actually speak up and say this is the wrong way to do this,” he said. “I think if one of them were to have the courage to speak up you would see the government would reconsider the way they are doing this.”
City staff have pegged the impact of the cuts at $177 million in 2019 alone.
That number includes a $65 million cut to Toronto Public Health that results from a change in funding formula and a $84.8 million reduction to the budget of Children’s Services that staff have said could result in the elimination of 6,166 child care fee subsidies.
While the province has defended the cuts as a necessary way to address a debt load that stands at $343 billion, Tory said that the retroactive and unilateral nature of the changes will create real consequences for Torontonians.
“Look, I acknowledge they (the province) have financial problems and I have said I am willing to help with those but this is absolutely the wrong way to do this,” he said.
In a statement issued on Saturday afternoon, a spokesperson in the premier’s office said that it is “unfortunate” that Tory is spending his time going door-to-door rather than looking for savings in his “bloated government.”
“Toronto city council would like the public to believe the only way out is to raise taxes or cut services. We know there’s another option. It’s time for city council to dig deep and start looking for ways to deliver core programs better and more efficiently,” the statement reads. “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.”