Toronto mayor declares war on Ford government’s ‘ill-advised budget cutbacks’
|Toronto Star 06 May 2019 at 12:46|
Toronto Mayor John Tory has declared war on Premier Doug Ford’s funding cuts and criticized a key Ford alcohol liberalization policy.
In a Scarborough speech Monday, Tory boosted pressure on the Progressive Conservative premier to roll back budget cuts set to cost Toronto hundreds of millions of dollars a year for transit, public health, child-care and more.
Toronto’s “ability to continue to move forward is in question due to a combination of very ill-advised budget cutbacks, harsh measures imposed on cities and towns across Ontario without any consultation whatsoever, some of them imposed more harshly on Toronto than any other municipality,” he said.
“If we simply throw up our hands and let this damaging budget go forward, we put our success at risk — the jobs, the quality of life, and the very success of the economic engine that is Toronto — all of that is at risk if we fail to fund responsibly the things that contribute to that success and maximize opportunity for the future.
“In the coming days and weeks, I will be engaging with MPPs of all parties at Queen’s Park, with business groups, and directly with local residents in wards across Toronto to call on this provincial government to stop the cuts that will take Toronto backwards.
“Ward by ward and door to door, I will be reminding government MPPs that they did not seek or receive a mandate to cut public health or child-care.”
That vow to fight triggered applause from audience members at the Scarborough Business Association luncheon.
Tory also, for the first time, slammed Ford’s push to get beer and wine in corner stores.
The Star has reported that liberalization could cost Ontarians more than $1 billion because it requires breaking an existing agreement with major breweries.
The Ford government, Tory told reporters after the speech, seems to want to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars to make beer more widely available at a time when we’re saying to people who need help with their child-care or who need to see student nutrition programs in place, or who need to see their transit system kept in better affairs, we’re going to cut back money on that — it makes no sense to me.”
Ford and his ministers have said Toronto and other municipalities need to help reduce the Ontario deficit and should find cost efficiencies to cover budget cuts rather than cut services to residents.
The crowd, in a part of Toronto considered more Ford-friendly than the downtown core, gave Tory a standing ovation.
Some audience members told the Star later that they support both Ford and Tory, but understand why the Mayor feels he needs to fight the premier over downloading.