On January 10th, our Executive Director, Tom Gleason, gave a deputation at City Council's Budget Committee on the TYC's concerns and suggestions for the 2017 Operating Budget. Check out the video and speech below!
Good evening Budget Committee,
On behalf of the Toronto Youth Cabinet, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak tonight.
I am here to express our concern over the long-term structural issues around the Budget. Over the past few years, Council has made the policy decision to pursue annual cuts, which weaken the services many Torontonians rely upon. Strong Housing, transit, health, and social services are key to ensuring a prosperous and equitable City.
While expenditure management is always an important piece of the budget process, staff have repeatedly reported that we have a revenue problem. While this budget takes some steps to address this, we wish it would go further. We recommend two strategies:
Peg property taxes increases to the rate of economic growth, which this year would be 3.4%, coincidentally the percentage increase in TTC fares, and;
Support motions that bring our property taxes in line with the rest of the GTA.
With this additional fiscal capacity, we would like to see Council continue to invest in housing, in transit, in services that make citizens healthier and better connected, and reduce reliance upon bridging strategies and the Land Transfer Tax. These strategies would also put us on better footing to request more progressive revenue tools from the Province, which we need if we are to compete with other world class cities like Chicago and New York.
We cannot build the housing and transit we need in this City on a status quo budget. We need investments, which ideally we would make over a period of time, and not just push off on to younger generations in future years. To paraphrase our Budget Lead:
stop kicking the can down the road, we’re the end of the road.
Finally, I would like to echo a message that I believe I delivered this time last year. That is that it would be to our collective advantage if we had community consultations at the beginning of this process and not just at the end. I understand it takes time and can be frustrating, but I think we would benefit from being able to spend the summer months having conversations about the City we would like to build.
Thanks again for this opportunity and for your diligent work on this Budget.