Ottawa infrastructure cash doesn’t meet Toronto’s “real needs”, Tory says

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Mayor John Tory says the recently announced federal funding for cities does not adequately address the “real” funding needs of the city of Toronto following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that The federal government is using the gas tax fund to transfer $ 2.2 billion in previously pledged infrastructure funds to cities ahead of schedule.

“We have been a great partner for the communities in various situations and crises over the past few years,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Monday morning.

“We know how important our cities and towns are to the success of Canadians, the success of our country’s economy. That’s why we are working with the provinces on how the communities can be helped.”

Mayor John Tory said while the cash advance will help “a bit” it is not enough to help the city in any significant way.

“We’re going to get a check, as I understand it, which won’t be for a small sum, but it’s money we’d get anyway, but on an expedited basis,” Tory told CP24 on Monday morning. “That’s good, that helps us, but it’s not the main event.”

Tory spokesman Don Peat told CP24 that the Toronto gas tax fund advance will raise approximately $ 166 million.

The dramatic drop in passenger numbers on the TTC is estimated to cost the community about $ 65 million per week, and overall, the city has announced that it will lose about $ 1.5 billion by the end of the year due to declining revenue and increased costs with the pandemic .

“We need new money to make up for the fact that we’ve lost a lot of money that we didn’t expect to get through things like transit fares that people didn’t pay, property taxes that weren’t paid when real estate deals weren’t paid were happening and things like that, “said Tory.

“It’s not going to come through huge property tax hikes that people can’t afford, and it won’t come either.” enormous service cuts, which we can hardly afford in this phase because people are having problems and we are trying to help them. “

Tory said discussions were still ongoing about what else could be done to help the city through its financial troubles.

“Much more needs to be done to ensure that cities remain financially stable and can play the role they need to play to make a big recovery,” he said.

The mayor added that talks with the other levels of government had been “positive” so far.

“Our Prime Minister played a positive role in these talks with the Federal Government. You have been positive with me and other mayors. But we need a lot more help than what is being provided today, ”Tory said.

“I’m not trying to belittle what you’re doing today, which will help a little. But we still need a lot more help. You know that. For this country to recover properly, it is vital that cities are healthy and not in a situation of financial instability. “

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the federal government must do more in the future to help financially weak cities.

“We know this is just an initial move, preferring money that the city would receive in six months’ time anyway, but there is currently a need for liquidity to help deal with the COVID crisis,” he said.

“We have to do more and we will do more, but more has to go hand in hand with the provinces that have the municipalities.”

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