In an open letter sent to Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Council, over 90 leaders from the nonprofit and community sector stressed the need to fund already-approved Council strategies including policies set to impact seniors, child care, and poverty reduction, in advance of a critical Budget Committee meeting this week.
The letter identifies the City’s budget process as part of the problem. While applauding Council for showing “leadership in adopting well-crafted strategies to better respond to the growing and complex needs of our diverse population…”, the signatories are adamant that the City’s approach to funding its commitments to vulnerable residents is backwards.
“Council’s budget process starts by saying ‘we can’t do what we promised’, and then asks the community to rally to stop cuts to services”, said Sean Meagher, Executive Director of Social Planning Toronto. “This letter asks Council to take a different approach: envision the city we want to build and then find ways to pay for those choices fairly and reasonably”.
City Council’s Budget Committee meets on Thursday to discuss the direction staff should take in crafting the 2018 Budget. The process proposed includes an across-the-board freeze to programs and services, rather than funding Council’s already approved priorities.
“We can’t make progress on these critical issues without actually setting priorities and investing in the outcomes our city needs”, said Meagher.