Is Toronto 'Headed For The Welfare Lines'?

<p>Years of job losses, the expense of paying for services formerly offered by the Provincial government, and an over-reliance on property tax revenue have left Canada's largest city with a huge deficit.</p>
September 27, 2007, 2pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"[Toronto], Canada's biggest (2.5 million population) and most powerful [city], seems to be headed for the welfare lines.

Largely because of [provincial program] downloading, Toronto faces a $575-million deficit this fiscal year. As a partial solution, the city may take $34 million from its budget this fiscal year and $83 million in 2008 by cutting such services as street cleaning and repair and snow removal.

Toronto's problems are of interest because many Canadian communities, including major cities such as Winnipeg and Calgary, say property taxes, their main source of revenue, can't properly finance all the jobs they've been given to do.

Downloading, unfortunately, is not Toronto's only problem. Carol Wilding, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, says about 100,000 jobs have been lost in Toronto since 1989, compared to 800,000 created in the outlying areas. Toronto, she says, is becoming a jobs doughnut: "lovely and rich on the outside, but empty in the middle" despite the creation of the Greater Toronto Authority, GTA, a huge district in and around Toronto, that was supposed to mitigate such problems.

There's more bad news for Toronto. The Conference Board of Canada said this month the fastest growing large cities are Saskatoon (4.7 per cent), Calgary (4.4 per cent) and Winnipeg (3.7 per cent). Poor old Toronto was eighth on the list of 13 at 2.7 per cent. On top of this, the Burj Dubai in Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, is now taller than Toronto's CN Tower."

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Published on Monday, September 24, 2007 in The Winnipeg Free Press
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