Toronto City Council’s budget talks were interrupted three times Wednesday morning due to members of the public shouting. A woman shouted against funding for police, and multiple voices chanted “House the homeless, feed the poor, kick John Tory out the door.” When the meeting resumed, Mayor John Tory said a few words and thanked retiring Chief Engineer Michael D’Andrea, but was interrupted by yells of “let me in” from the same woman. Tory is still acting mayor and has the power to veto the budget with his new “strong mayor” powers.
The budget includes a 5.5 percent increase to residential property taxes and a 1.5 percent City Building Fund levy. For every percentage point increase, the city brings in $39 million for the year. However, this is not enough to keep transit service at the same level as last year. The city is also missing approximately $1.3 billion in pandemic-related shortfalls, which the province has committed to covering for 2022 but is still being negotiated for the rest. The federal government has also not provided funding for refugees, which is under its jurisdiction.
The budget also takes into account the increased demand on various city services due to the influx of refugees and asylum seekers. The total amount needed for refugee funding is $170 million.