On Monday, two days before the release of the 2017 Federal Budget, Mayor John Tory shared a note on his Facebook account.
“The federal government must demonstrate that its priorities and programs will provide what is necessary for our country and our citizens to continue to thrive, no matter where they live,” wrote Tory. “I expect this week’s federal budget to support and advance what I see as the three “I”s of Nation Building: Infrastructure, Innovation and Immigration.”
In the public letter, the Toronto mayor touches on transit, housing, and immigration.
And today, the 280-page “Building A Strong Middle Class” budget was released, which was tabled by the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau.
To break down what it means to Toronto, we’ll focus on Mayor Tory’s major points.
Through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, Budget 2016 focused on making immediate investments of $3.4 billion over three years. This year, the Government will invest $20.1 billion over 11 years through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, according to the today’s budget report.
For Toronto, Tory is mostly considered about the funding for the Scarborough Subway Extension. And the federal government plans to deliver a chunk of that budget to “build upon Metrolinx’s GO Regional Express Rail (RER) program, the SmartTrack project in Toronto proposes to link Scarborough to Etobicoke, and enhance the GO RER program with up to six new stations and an integrated fare system.”
Although it’s unclear how much of the money will be given to Toronto, allocations will be determined using a formula based on ridership (70 per cent) and population (30 per cent).
“The federal and provincial governments must also make immediate investments to address our growing housing crisis,” wrote Tory. And the federal government agrees. In the budget, it states, “When affordable housing is in short supply, Canada’s whole economy suffers.”
For that reason, a new National Housing Strategy will invest more than $11.2 billion over 11 years “in a variety of initiatives designed to build, renew and repair Canada’s stock of affordable housing and help ensure that Canadians have affordable housing that meets their needs.”
This year’s budget also proposes to provide approximately $3.2 billion over the next 11 years to provinces and territories to support key priorities for affordable housing that include: the construction of new affordable housing units; the renovation and repair of existing housing; rent subsidies and other measures to make housing more affordable; and other initiatives to support safe, independent living for Canada’s seniors, persons with disabilities and other individuals requiring accessibility modifications.
“Without immigration, Canada’s natural population growth would not be enough to sustain our economic growth and well-being,” Tory wrote. “Immigration is not a threat, it is an advantage and a necessary and beneficial investment.”
And the federal government recognizes that diversity is a source of strength. Building on funding announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement, Budget 2017 proposes to provide an additional $7.8 million over two years, starting in 2017–18, to implement a new Global Talent Stream under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, as part of the Global Skills Strategy.
Moreover, in order to ensure that newcomers “are able to put their skills to good”, the budget proposes to reallocate $27.5 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, and $5.5 million per year thereafter from Employment and Social Development Canada’s existing resources to support a Targeted Employment Strategy for newcomers.
Building A Strong Middle Class
To further support the middle class, the federal government has also pledge to close tax loopholes and tax planning schemes that disproportionately favour the wealth. Additionally, it has proposed an extra $523.9 million over five years to prevent tax evasion and improve tax compliance.
“Budget 2017 is about jobs. It’s about creating good middle class jobs today, while preparing Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Monreau in a press release. “The next step in our plan for Canada’s economy is making the smart, responsible investments we need to be innovative and competitive, while improving the health of our communities, ensuring a better future for our kids and grandkids.”
At the time of publication, neither the City of Toronto nor John Tory (who is currently in India) have released statements regarding today’s budget.
Further details on the 2017 Budget can be found here.