It won't be 'business as usual' until province funds Toronto's needs, Tory warns Sousa

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It won't be 'business as usual' until province funds Toronto's needs, Tory warns Sousa

When it comes to funding transit, highways and housing, Mayor John Tory has made it very clear that the provincial government has to step up and help Toronto.

After a meeting at city hall, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Tory held a joint news conference Monday to discuss Toronto's needs ahead of the 2017 provincial budget.

Tory said there was no question that the city's relationship with the province was "significantly impacted" when Premier Wynne rejected Toronto's toll plan for the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

"It hasn't been business as usual. And I would say … the relationship won't get back to business as usual until we can find ourselves in the position to satisfy the needs of the nearly three million people who call Toronto home," Tory said.

Tory said the two discussed the need for a partnership between the federal and provincial governments when it comes to Toronto's funding needs.

'Better deal with the province'

Tory said the city is expecting to receive additional funding for transit infrastructure from the federal government and needs the province to match it.

"We need a better deal with the province when it comes to transit, housing and when it comes to the regional highways that we fund entirely, and when it comes to the economic potential of the city's waterfront."

The mayor said projects like the relief line, the Eglinton East LRT and the waterfront transit will make up for "decades of underinvestment."

On housing, Tory said, the city is asking the province to fund its share, which according to the mayor is $864 million dollars, to tackle the backlog of repairs needed in social housing units. 

"The housing was dropped on the city's doorstep after years of neglect by other levels of government with no plan and no money to keep those housing units in good repair."

'Inaction of other governments'

Tory said the city has provided its share to help fund repairs and is in a position of having become "exhausted" and forced to consider closing some units, should the lack of financial help form other government levels continue. 

"So let me be very clear: Any closure of such units would be a direct result of the inaction of the other governments to partner with us in those repairs. Projects of that magnitude were never intended to be carried out by property taxes alone," he said. 

Sousa said the mayor was clear in expressing the needs and demands of the city but that "just as Toronto requires support, the rest of the province of Ontario requires it too."

"The growth in the region has been tremendous. In order to sustain that growth, we have to have predictable and stable funding," said Sousa. 

"The mayor has made that clear to me and to the premier and we understand that," he said. 

"The province of Ontario values a strong Toronto," Sousa said. "I appreciate there's more to be done. But I do want to assure the mayor and the council how important it is for us to have open dialogue on something that is so crucial to us."

Ahead of the next provincial election, Tory said he plans on sitting down with leaders of all provincial political parties and "canvass them for their ideas and their commitments to the future wellbeing of the city of Toronto."