On Monday, April 14, Premier Kathleen Wynne made a well-publicized announcement outlining how her government would fund public transit in Ontario. On the plus side, Premier Wynne promised to create a dedicated fund and find $15 billion over the next 10 years to build public transit and transportation infrastructure in the Toronto and Hamilton area.
Sadly, the Premier’s announcement failed to address a number of key issues necessary to build the transit system Torontonians deserve.
First, the Premier did not announce any new funding to pay for existing transit service. Torontonians are waiting longer for more crowded vehicles and paying higher TTC fares. The Province used to be an equal partner with City Hall in helping pay for existing transit services. Today, they contribute a small percentage of what they used to. The Province must once again contribute to existing TTC operations if transit service is going to improve. The fact that the Premier did not acknowledge this indicates her government does not understand the service crisis TTC users are facing in Toronto every day.
Second, the Premier failed to outline what new revenue sources her government would use to help raise the promised $15 billion, even though public support for new transit taxes is growing. Instead she announced money already being collected (HST on fuel, gas tax) would be repurposed to pay for transit. This repurposing raises the issue of what cuts will be made to other provincial programs. For example, we cannot afford more cuts to enforcing existing environmental regulations.
Unfortunately, neither Mr. Hudak nor Ms. Horvath have plans that are better than Premier Wynne’s. The sad truth is that our Provincial leaders are not responding to the public who want our political leaders to act.
If Torontonians want the transit system they deserve, we must tell our elected officials to invest in transit now. To send a message to get the Province to contribute its fair share for TTC operations, go here. To send a message to get politicians to support transit expansion, go here.