The City’s Fiscal Debt Is a Mistake

Will John Tory’s ‘prudent’ leadership be tough enough to tackle Toronto’s big issues if he’s re-elected? When voters head to the polls on Monday, they will join more than 14 million people over the…

The City’s Fiscal Debt Is a Mistake

Will John Tory’s ‘prudent’ leadership be tough enough to tackle Toronto’s big issues if he’s re-elected?

When voters head to the polls on Monday, they will join more than 14 million people over the Atlantic in voting for their next mayor, and with many of them deciding between one of three potential candidates from their ridings.

In a city where voters are increasingly frustrated and anxious about city services, crime, poverty and other social ills, and where the city’s fiscal challenges are causing anxiety and uncertainty, no mayoral candidate is perfect.

But the most pressing problem facing Toronto is one that the incumbent, the city’s former chief executive and longest-serving boss, was woefully ill-suited for solving – a problem that comes down to two words: ‘prudent.’.

John Tory was elected mayor in 2015 on an issue-based, grassroots platform to lead the city out of a financial disaster. The city faced a fiscal deficit of $14.4 billion – the third consecutive fiscal deficit year in a row that has resulted in the city not paying the wages, pensions and benefits of its over a million full-time workers – and the government had run out of options to address it.

Austerity was the problem, and government could have dealt with it by cutting spending and cutting taxes, but the government chose a different path – one that turned out to be a mistake.

From a city revenue perspective, the solution that Tory’s administration came up with was to lower property taxes, which Tory saw as one of the most fair ways to fund the city’s basic services. From a city employee perspective, the solution was to reduce costs by reducing the number of part-time employees in city government, which was followed by the implementation of a pay freeze to city employees, which proved a much better option than the job cuts that Tory was proposing to cut.

With the city facing $12.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities over the next 10 years and $7 billion in unfunded liabilities by 2031 – the most unfunded liabilities ever – the city is facing a $7 billion operating deficit and in a desperate need for change.

But for all the issues facing municipal governments that Tory was elected to address, one issue that no mayoral candidate comes equipped to deal with is the

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