Practical, pragmatic approach best way to help close multi-billion-dollar budget gap, get real...
Mitzie Hunter's Pragmatic Approach: Securing New HST Deal for Cities to Bridge Budget Gap
Hunter exposes other candidates for ‘magical thinking” for imaginary Toronto-only special deals that will never materialize
Toronto – Mitzie Hunter as mayor will work with other big city mayors across Canada seeking a “new deal” that secures one point of the existing HST to benefit all municipalities, part of her practical and pragmatic six-point game plan for working with the Province and federal government, the only realistic approach to help close Toronto’s multi-billion-dollar budget gap and get real results for our city.
At the same time, Hunter is exposing the proposals of other candidates for relying on empty rhetoric, magical thinking, imaginary special deals, or simply bashing of the federal and provincial governments, which gets us exactly nowhere.
Hunter’s realistic six-point game plan includes:
- Leading a coalition of mayors seeking one point of the HST
- Ending double transit fares
- Securing funding for refugee-related costs
- Building more transit
- Recouping health expenses, and
- Securing equitable federal support for new affordable housing.
“My game plan for working with the provincial and federal governments is practical, pragmatic, and realistic. A new deal for all cities resulting in one point of the existing HST is the best approach for getting real results for Toronto,” says Hunter.
“Empty rhetoric, magical thinking, imaginary special deals and bashing the federal and provincial governments gets us exactly nowhere,” says Hunter.
“Breaking down our needs and working with the Province and federal government in a practical and pragmatic way earns respect and gets results. As mayor, that will be my realistic approach to intergovernmental relations.
“There are a handful of areas where Toronto has unique circumstances, and I will be fearless in seeking what we are due. But I know – and other candidates also surely know – that there are no special Toronto-only deals to be made.
“Every other candidate pretends there is a big negotiation waiting for the next mayor. I was a senior cabinet minister, and I can tell you that is simply not how things have ever worked. Other candidates need to be honest with themselves and the people of Toronto. There are no “one-off” bailouts to be had to fill the City's budget hole or pay for their campaign promises.
“Olivia Chow on a local newscast recently said, ‘we need the federal government to come to the table’. It’s the latest example of magical thinking. She knows that the federal government has never given operating funding to any city, ever, that was not part of a larger national program.
“Olivia Chow is asking people to believe that the federal government, with its $40-billion deficit, would offer billions of dollars to cities across the country, or make a deal just for her and ignore Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver. This is magical thinking.”
Here’s how Hunter’s intergovernmental game plan works:
Securing one point of the existing HST to benefit municipalities: Hunter will immediately call upon the federal and Ontario governments to dedicate one pointof their existing HST revenue to a new transfer to benefit all cities and communities. This would result in between $805 and $898 million for Toronto.
As mayor, Hunter will be the city's champion, and in collaboration with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and cities across the province and the country, will make the case for a new deal for all cities to create a new and sustainable funding relationship, that is truly reflective of the responsibilities and taxing capacity of cities both large and small.
“I will make sure that Toronto is a leader in bringing together cities and towns because there are no special deals for any city, but together there can be a new deal for all cities,” Hunter says.
“Coalitions of cities working together is the only strategy that has ever proven successful. This approach led to the Gas Tax Transfers from each government.”
There are also ways to deliver support that do not involve new transfers or programs. Hunter is calling on the Ontario government to lower its property tax for education to create tax room for municipalities. Even a 50-per-cent reduction in the education property tax could generate over $1 billion for Toronto.
Ending Double Transit Fares: The Province wants a deal to eliminate the two fares paid when transferring to or from the TTC and GO or one of the neighbouring transit systems in Durham, York, Mississauga and Brampton.
This will benefit riders and encourage more people to use transit. But it cannot be done on the back of the TTC which is far and away the most important part of the regional transit network.
Hunter will work with the Province to secure a fair deal for Toronto that fully recognizes the TTC’s central and preeminent role delivering transit in the region.
Building More Transit: Hunter will relentlessly work to secure federal and provincial commitments to fund -- and quickly proceed with -- her transit expansion priorities to accelerate the delivery of the Scarborough Eglinton East LRT, the North-York Scarborough Subway and the East Waterfront LRT.
Recouping Health Expenses: Hunter will seek one-time Provincial compensation for the $101.8 million in 2023 health expenses in long-term care and public health directly caused by efforts to reduce the risk of outbreak of COVID.
Securing Funding for Refugee-Related Costs: Refugee policy is exclusively a federal responsibility, and the Federal government should reimburse Toronto for the $130 million per year we dedicate to servicing refugees. Funding has been provided in previous years and must be provided now and every year that Toronto dedicates resources to address this federal responsibility.
Securing Equitable Federal Support for new Affordable Housing: The CMHC Housing Accelerator Fund has very specific requirements that a city must meet to qualify for funding. None of the housing proposals proposed by any of the candidates meet these requirements. Unlike other candidates, Hunter will not pretend that funding is automatic and instead will work with the federal government to secure equivalent funding.
Hunter’s proposed Toronto Affordable Housing Corporation and plan to build 11,236 affordable rental units – more than any other candidate – would mean a federal capital contribution of almost $517 million. Hunter is also prepared to accept this support from the federal government in the form of an equity investment in the TAHC.
“Unlike other candidates, I will not pretend that getting capital funds for housing or transit will help our city close the $4.3-billion hole in its operating budget between 2023 and 2025,” says Hunter.
“Other candidates are engaging in magical thinking or suggesting they have some kind of superpower to compel the Province to upload highways and the federal government to give Toronto a special deal with a cheque attached for billions in operating dollars.
“In contrast, I am breaking down the problem and taking a practical and pragmatic approach to solve it with my six-point game plan.
“Magical thinking or a practical and pragmatic approach. The choice is clear. My plan will Fix the Six. Join me.”
Championing Toronto: As the head of Council and only person elected to represent all of Toronto, the mayor plays an important role in championing Toronto to others. This includes other governments and the mayor has a singular responsibility to work with our most important funding partner which is the Province which provides critical operating and capital funding for important City operations.
This duty also extends to the federal government which plays an important role in funding large, usually capital, projects in Cities across the country.
As Mayor, Hunter will always fight to ensure that Toronto receives its fair share of existing and new Provincial and Federal Programs for transit, housing and other priorities as they emerge.
No doubt that this is true for all the other candidates. It is part of the job.
Capital versus operating: Unlike other candidates, however, Hunter will not pretend that getting capital funds for housing or transit will help our city close the $4.3-billion hole in its operating budget between 2023 and 2025.
Any candidate who suggests otherwise is not being straight with voters.
They know that the other governments almost always require the City to match funding. Securing funding from a national or provincial program may help Toronto deal with its large unfunded capital plans but it does nothing for our operating plans.
Candidates such as Ana Bailao, who claim past success in securing capital funds from national programs, somehow means they can get special deals just for Toronto to close our operating budget hole are either misinformed or misinforming the people of Toronto.
No special deals: As Associate Minister of Finance, Hunter negotiated with the Federal Government and the other Provinces and knows how the process works and what can and cannot be done.
Absent a disaster or a major special event like an Olympics, an Expo or a Pan-Am Games the Federal and Provincial Governments never agree to special deals with any City. This is simply because doing so would create endless demands from other Cities.
This is also why the Province will not entertain any conversation about up-loading city infrastructure like the DVP or the Gardiner. Some candidates claim that Toronto alone has responsibility for such major highways, but they are wrong. The Mayors of Hamilton and Ottawa, to name just two, would be eager to point out this error.
No magical powers: There are candidates who would have Torontonians believe that they alone are specially endowed with a magical power that can change the very nature of intergovernmental financial relationships.
They are doing this to avoid being transparent about their budgets, or delaying once again the hard choices and decisions that confront us. Or they are doing this for a sound bite on TV to look tough standing up to the Premier and pretending it has some useful practical effect.
As a former mayor of Toronto recently noted, there is no magical letter to send to other governments that will return additional funding. If there was, it would have been written already.
John Tory was a respected and well-connected Mayor with links across both the Federal and the Provincial Government. He had large electoral mandates from the people in his elections. And in his 8 years as mayor, he was respected yet never secured a special deal for Toronto on any issue or for any project, because no such deal has ever been on the table.
A game plan for results: As mayor, Hunter will always be transparent, co-operative, and respectful when dealing with other governments, other leaders, and the people of Toronto. Some candidates for Mayor sound like Provincial opposition politicians, which may make for good TV clips but rarely makes for productive governing.
Hunter’s six-point gameplan for working with the provincial and federal government is practical, pragmatic, and is the best approach for getting real results for Toronto.
Empty rhetoric, magical thinking and bashing the federal and provincial governments gets us exactly nowhere. Breaking down our needs and working with the Province and federal government in a practical and pragmatic way earns respect and gets results. This will be Hunter’s approach to intergovernmental relations.”
Remarks by Mitzie Hunter announcing her plan to secure one point of the existing HST for municipalities, June 8, 2023:
- Since the beginning of this campaign I have systematically laid out my priorities.
- More affordable housing, more quickly.
- Unlocking public lands for affordable housing.
- Below-market price housing for renters and buyers.
- Investing more in city services… so the city works better.
- More potholes filled, better snow clearance…
- Enhanced and improved neighbourhood parks.
- More affordable TTC… with seniors and Wheel Trans users to ride free.
- Reversing the TTC fare increase and service cuts.
- Today I am announcing that as mayor I will make sure that Toronto is a leader…
- In bringing together big city mayors from across Canada… to secure one point of the existing HST… benefiting allmunicipalities.
- Because there are no special deals for any one city…
- But together there can be a “new deal”… for all cities.
- And all municipalities across Canada.
- Coalitions of cities working together is the only strategy that has succeeded.
- This approach led to the Gas Tax Transfers from each government.
- As mayor, I will immediately call upon the federal and Ontario governments to dedicate one point…
- Of their existing HST revenue to a new transfer…
- To benefit all cities and smaller communities.
- This would mean close to $900 million for Toronto.
- It’s part of my six-point game plan…
- For working with the Province and federal government…
- To help close Toronto’s multi-billion-dollar budget gap.
- The other five points of my six-point plan include…
- Ending double transit fares…
- Securing funding for refugee-related costs…
- Building more transit…
- Recouping health expenses… and
- Securing equitable federal support for new affordable housing.
- My gameplan for working with the provincial and federal government is practical… pragmatic…
- And is the best approach… for getting real results for Toronto.
- Other candidates offer empty rhetoric… and magical thinking.
- And bashing the federal and provincial governments… gets us exactly nowhere.
- My approach is different.
- I have a game plan.
- It means breaking down our needs…
- It means working with the Province and federal government…
- It means a practical… and pragmatic approach.
- It’s an approach that earns respect… and gets results.
- As mayor, that will be my approach to intergovernmental relations.
- As mayor, I will always be transparent… co-operative… and respectful…
- When dealing with other governments… other leaders…
- And above all… the people of Toronto.
- As mayor I will be the city's champion.
- I will work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities…
- And cities across the province and the country.
- I will make the case for a new deal for all cities…
- To create a new and sustainable funding relationship…
- One that is truly reflective of the responsibilities…
- And taxing capacity… of cities both large and small.
- There are also ways to deliver support that do not involve new transfers or programs.
- I am calling on the Ontario government to lower its property tax for education to create tax room for municipalities.
- Even a 50-per-cent reduction in the education property tax…
- Could generate over $1 billion for Toronto.
- Unlike other candidates, I will not pretend that getting capitalfunds for housing or transit…
- Will help our city close the $4.3-billion hole in its operatingbudget between now and 2025.
- Other candidates are engaging in magical thinking…
- They are suggesting they have some kind of superpower to compel the Province to upload highways…
- And the federal government to give Toronto a special deal…
- A special deal for Toronto, and nothing for Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver?
- That’s magical thinking.
- With a cheque attached for billions in operating dollars?
- That’s magical thinking.
- In contrast, I am breaking down the problem…
- I am taking a practical and pragmatic approach to solve it…
- With my six-point game plan.
- Magical thinking… or a practical and pragmatic approach.
- The choice is clear.
- I am running for mayor because I want to lead Toronto’s revival.
- I have a comprehensive, fully-costed plan…
- To do exactly that.
- While other candidates refuse to be clear on their property tax proposals…
- I am crystal clear.
- I have put forward my Three-and-Six plan.
- Under my plan… 40 per cent of homeowners…
- All those with a household incomes under $80,000…
- Will have a below-inflation increase $108 a year…
- That’s a three-per-cent increase.
- More than 50 per cent of seniors will be able to eliminate or defer their property tax increase…
- And have no out of pocket costs at all.
- Small businesses and creative activities will also pay nothing more in new property tax.
- And higher income homeowners…
- Who can afford to pay a little more will be asked to pay…
- Six per cent more… that’s $216 a year.
- It’s a new… different… affordable…
- And progressive way to fairly adjust property tax increases.
- A plan that does not depend upon the wishful thinking…
- That other levels of government…
- Will provide a Toronto-only bailout.
- That has never happened before…
- And it isn’t going to happen now.
- We need to get going ourselves…
- And we can.
- I want to Fix the Six.
- So we can then invest…
- And build the Toronto we want.
- Join me.