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Tory plans $32M in budget cuts to help with provincial funding shortfall

Mayor John Tory speaks to reporters in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Mayor John Tory has laid the groundwork for a plan to fill the $86-million shortfall in this year’s budget — caused by the Ontario government cutting its funding for public housing.

His nine-page proposal, which he calls a “resolution to a problem created elsewhere,” suggests $32 million in cuts to the 2015 operating budget and borrowing from reserves instead of taking out loans.

He’s asked the TTC and Toronto police to cut their budgets by $5 million each and said the city can save money because of lower fuel costs ($2 million) and by eliminating vacant staff jobs ($1.6 million) and reducing the social services budget ($1.6 million) to reflect lower caseload volumes.

“I think it’s way better than the two alternatives, which were either to gut services as the previous administration had done — especially in the area of transit — or to dramatically increase taxes, which I don’t think people can afford right now,” Tory said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

The next step, not included in this plan, is to cut the budgets of all departments by two per cent, which would yield around $80 million by the end of the year. Most of the changes, he said, would show up in the 2016 budget.

Tory said this is only the beginning of the process of “scouring the city for real savings and efficiencies,” but stressed there would be no changes to services.

“This budget is a creative solution that is both responsible and practical and reflects what fresh eyes can bring to many of the city’s challenges,” he said.

The plan will be considered by the budget committee on Friday.