Last week, Toronto City Council passed the 2022 City Budget.
Thanks to community advocacy, there were some key wins in this year’s budget! However, we are deeply concerned by Council's status-quo approach and unwillingness to make the deep investments needed to respond to the serious issues we are facing as a city.
First, here are some of the wins in this year’s City Budget process:
Strengthening the City’s “Climate Lens”. A motion was passed at Budget Committee to establish a process for identifying positive and negative climate impacts of projects considered by the City. If applied effectively, this tool will be used to assess which projects should be prioritized for funding, and will help to ensure we are investing in projects that reduce emissions and/or increase our climate resilience.
Advancing underfunded low-carbon transit and housing programs. This included additional funding for the RentSafeTO program, including inspectors to help ensure safe housing for tenants (including during extreme weather), plus a motion to help resource program expansion in future years. Another win was the creation of a dedicated reserve fund for the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) program, which will help preserve and improve existing building stock while protecting tenants from renovictions. Council also voted to advance the implementation of the Fair Pass program for low-income transit riders, as quickly as possible. These wins couldn’t have happened without the incredible advocacy of transit and housing organizations and advocates.
- Highlighting Toronto’s long-term funding needs and gaps. An important motion by Councillor Layton passed, which will help show the bigger picture of Toronto’s long-term financial situation and assess the sum of resources needed to achieve long-term plans (including the Net Zero Strategy). It has been several years since City Council has reviewed and discussed a similar Long Term Fiscal report, and it will illustrate the significant gap between what Toronto has committed to - and what is currently being funded.
The wins from community advocacy this year are important. Many of these wins will deliver tangible benefits to people through programs and services. However, despite the fact that Toronto set ambitious new climate targets in December, this is largely the same old budget. According to the City's modelling, the Net Zero Strategy needs an estimated total of $145 billion in long-term funding to reach net zero emissions by 2040, yet this budget only identifies $1.5 billion of projects as having climate and/or resilience “components”. We will continue to advocate for full and fair funding for climate action.
We can’t afford to kick the can down the road: the next few years are critical to act on the climate emergency. Community advocacy works, and together we’ll have to keep pushing for the investments that are needed to reduce emissions, increase our climate resilience and ensure a liveable future for all.