How the 2019 federal budget will benefit Toronto

Mar 20 2019, 1:19 pm

The Government of Canada has unveiled its 2019 federal budget, and Mayor John Tory says there are a number of investments that benefit Toronto.

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled his fourth budget at the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon.

“Nearly four years ago, Canadians chose a plan that invested in the things that matter most to them: good, well-paying jobs; more help for families with the high cost of living; strong, connected communities; and better opportunities for our children and grandchildren,” said Morneau, in a statement.

The pre-election budget includes the promise to support first-time homeowners as well as students, national access to high-speed internet, and a national pharmacare program.

And as one of Canada’s biggest cities, Toronto will be seeing a chunk of that federal change.

“I have always believed that one of my most important jobs as Mayor is to push Toronto’s agenda and work with the federal and provincial governments to ensure all three are working together to help our city,” said Tory, in a statement following the budget release.

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According to Tory, there are several ways the 2019 budget will impact Torontonians.

Transit: The Federal Gas Tax will provide an additional $167 million, which Tory said “essentially doubles the gas tax funding this year, and will help us with our transit priorities.”

New rental housing: The Rental Construction Financing Initiative is getting a $10 billion expansion over nine years, which will be providing cities with low-cost loans to construct new rental housing.

First-time homebuyers benefits: The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) will allow home buyers to reduce the amount of money they need for an insured mortgage. Through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the federal government will provide up to $1.25 billion over three years, beginning in the 2019-20 fiscal year, to eligible first-time homebuyers by sharing the cost of a mortgage. Those eligible would be first-time home buyers with household incomes under $120,000 annually.

Affordable housing: Mayor Tory also said that Toronto expects to receive its “fair share of $300 million for cities to help with retrofitting of affordable housing and social housing units.”

Toronto Atmospheric Fund: Established in 1991 to assist the City of Toronto in meeting its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Toronto expects to receive $40 million for the Fund to continue with its work.

Tory said it’s encouraging to see a clear commitment in this budget to a new modernized national partnership with cities where more funding is coming directly to cities.

Through the investments in transit, housing, and affordability, I believe this budget represents some important steps forward in building up the strength of Toronto – Canada’s economic engine,” he said.

But Tory added that there was no response from the feds regarding the city’s repeated requests for assistance when it comes to newcomer arrivals and refugee/asylum claimants, which is outlined in the city budget as $45 million.

While the federal budget does not speak directly to this issue, it is something which continues to be under active discussion with the Government of Canada at a senior level as recently as today,” said Tory.

“These discussions on funding for housing for asylum claimants along with additional funding for anti-violence initiatives are ongoing and they continue to be positive and constructive with the government receptive to addressing these requests.”

Beyond the budget, the mayor said he plans to continue to also advocate for more transit investment, along with investment for housing and mental health and addiction treatment leading up to the 2019 federal election.