Toronto asks for a piece of GST
Archived Articles 27 Apr 2007 Adu RaudkiviEWR
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Since the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) have moved their office into the Toronto City Hall press gallery they have been made aware of municipal economic needs and they have been champions of Toronto Mayor David Miller's campaign that Toronto should retain 1% (of the 8%) of the GST collected in Toronto. The NEPMCC have had an executive member and ombudsman Dr. Bikram Lamda write a lengthy dissertation on the subject. His focus is strictly on that of the city, but there is more.

Since Toronto amalgamated in 2000, both Mayor Mel Lastman and now Miller have a) demanded more federal and provincial funding for major expenses like transit and b) demanded that the downloading of costs on municipalities be stopped. In the meantime City Hall has been forced by their electors to keep property taxes down.

In 2000 Lastman was after Progressive Conservative Provincial Premier Mike Harris for funding, and rightfully so, because the downloading came from the province but now the attention has shifted away from the Liberal Province to the Conservative federal government.

The downloading to the government next below started primarily because former Liberal Prime Minister when he was Finance Minister (in former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government) Paul Martin wanted to be a hero and show a balanced budget, but he achieved that not by cutting his own expenses but by passing many more of the costs down to the provinces.

The Province of Ontario at that time led by Harris had already made the cuts when the downloading came from above. Harris had to pass the costs on to the municipalities. He tried to save some money by amalgamating all the various municipalities in what was Metropolitan Toronto, thus hoping to join the services. That didn't work either; costs went up rather than down. But indeed, he could have slowed down some of his own tax reductions instead of passing the costs down to the municipalities.

If Jane Pitfield had been elected as mayor of Toronto, she would have made every department of municipal government justify their expenses annually. We didn't elect her and the departments just keep adding and adding to their budgets.

But almost every federal government, even in the United States, funds public transit. Except Canada. This is an issue we should consider because Toronto's transit system is quite decrepit.

It’s hard, however, to expect the Federal Government to fund municipalities when they don't show any attempt at saving money. Examples abound, such as when Toronto Councillor Rob Ford's waste list of $400,000 is rejected offhand by Council and Mayor Miller’s latest office renovation comes to $100,000. In the grand scheme of things these are not much but to a family trying to stretch things out they are a fortune.

"We do not need to raise taxes, we have the money already, we need to handle it properly," said Pitfield.
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