Toronto launches petition demanding Ford government reverse funding cuts – CBC.ca

Toronto launches petition demanding Ford government reverse funding cuts - CBC.ca
Mayor Tory urges Torontonians to directly pressure Ford government MPPs over cuts
The City of Toronto has launched a petition demanding that the Doug Ford government reverse its funding cuts.

According to Toronto's calculations, the funding cuts revealed in Ontario's spring budget will amount to $177 million in 2019.

Saskatchewans top court ruled in favour of the federal government in a separate legal battle against the carbon price, but that province has said it plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The city claims the reduction will jeopardize several core city services, including student vaccinations, school breakfasts and subsidized child care spaces.

Ford and Blaine Higgs have both been vocal in their opposition to the tax, which the federal government imposed earlier this year on provinces that didnt have their own price on carbon.

"I urge all Toronto residents to sign the petition so we can send a message to the province," said Mayor John Tory at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

Premier of Ontario Doug Ford, left, shakes hands with Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe during a media event in Saskatoon, Thursday, October 4, 2018. (Liam Richards/ The Canadian Press)

"While I wish we could have avoided this next step, I believe it's important to engage the people of the city in our efforts to stop these cuts."

LILLEY: Ford goes on the offensive in battle over cuts

More than 4,100 people signed the petition within the first six hours of its launch, city spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC Toronto.

Ford and Higgs are also set to talk about interprovincial trade and the 2019 Summer Meeting of Canadas Premiers when they meet in Toronto.

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care holds Day of Action to protest cuts

The city and the Progressive Conservative government have sparred over the funding cuts since they were revealed in the province's first budget this spring.

Toronto officials have warned that, in addition to a loss of services, the cuts may also lead to an increase in taxes to overcome the shortfall.

Ford appeared at the conference one day after Prime Minister Trudeau made the case to attendees Monday evening that Canada has immigration to thank for its thriving technology sector. The four-day conference is being held in Canada for the first time and is set to take place in Ontario for the next three years. 

The Ontario government responded to those concerns on Tuesday with an offer of $7.35 million to help municipalities and school boards conduct third party audits of their budgets.

"Ontario is unequivocally a top destination in the world for the best talent and companies pursuing AI and the Vector Institute will continue to work with the province to help maintain Ontario's  leadership position," president and CEO Garth Gibson said in a statement.

Premier Doug Ford said Toronto, and other municipalities, can find savings by cutting waste from their books. He suggested municipal governments could aim to reduce spending by four per cent, which is the target Ford has set for provincial budget savings.

"Our government was elected with a clear mandate to fix the financial mess left behind by the previous Liberal government. We are calling on our municipal partners to work with us to get our province off the path of bankruptcy," wrote Ford's press secretary Ivana Yelich in an email to CBC Toronto.

"If you want to expand, if you want to grow and you want to prosper and thrive, the likes of which you've never seen before, come to Ontario, invest in Ontario," Ford said in closing. "Thank you and God bless each and every one of you."

"If the mayor decides to cut breakfast programs and childcare subsides, or raise taxes, rather than find savings, that is his decision."

The message we are trying to get across is that this 80-million cut is targeting the low-income families the most. When we look at the distribution of these fee subsidies for low-income families so they can send their kids to child care… it actually hurts Doug Fords riding the most, he said Wednesday morning.

While the creation of a petition is unusual, it isn't the first time Toronto has taken this route.

In 2008, then-Mayor David Miller revealed a city-backed petition calling for a nationwide handgun ban.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

Ontario municipalities will receive at least 80 million less in child-care funding from the provincial government this year and members of the coalition say that when calculating changes to cost-sharing agreements, that number could jump substantially.

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Speaking outside Willowridge Early Learning Centre, a child-care facility located in Premier Doug Fords North Etobicoke riding, Coun. Mike Layton said it is important for parents to understand the full magnitude of the cuts.