Toronto mayor John Tory is appealing for a further cash injection for the city to cover COVID-related losses, funding for affordable housing and a "more robust mental health care system" in a letter sent to federal party leaders.
Tory outlined his wish list in a letter emailed to Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green party Leader Annamie Paul, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.
The need for investments in transportation infrastructure and housing affordability were echoed by Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie, who also sent her own open letter to federal leaders this week.
In the letter, Tory outlined five key priorities for the city of Toronto, including: more than $1.5 billion in continued COVID-19 relief funding for the remainder of 2021 and the entirety of 2022, support for people experiencing homelessness, investments in the city's public transportation system, the creation of a "more robust" mental health system and a plea for the federal government to make good on its promise to fund community violence prevention programs.
Tory said federal support early in the pandemic had been crucial in allowing Toronto to respond to the health crisis, but despite that support and the city's own cost-saving measures, finances had been "greatly impacted." This was primarily due to loss of public transport ridership and "extraordinary" impacts on the shelter system, he said.
"The pandemic is not yet over, and it is clear that the financial impacts on the City of Toronto will continue into 2022," Tory said.
He signed off the letter by asking "how we can make some of these partnerships sustainable over the long-term," as "the current system makes it very difficult for the country's largest municipalities like Toronto to continue to effectively address these major challenges."
He said continued support from the federal government was "critical to Toronto's continuing success."
'We cannot cut our way to prosperity'
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie sent a similar open letter to all federal party leaders this week, telling them that due to the city's rapid growth, Mississauga's needs centre around investments in local and regional transport infrastructure, continued support for COVID-ravaged businesses and housing affordability.
"We continue to face growing challenges and pressures to deliver services to our residents — the same people we all serve," Crombie said.
The mayor said investments are necessary to build and maintain public facilities, transport infrastructure and other community spaces, saying "we cannot cut our way to prosperity."
She said significant investments were needed in local and regional transit systems to "break grid-lock and congestion," including the need for an all-day, two-way service on Mississauga GO Transit corridors, the restoration of the Hurontario LRT downtown loop and rapid transit projects along the Dundas and Lakeshore corridors.
In asking for further support for businesses impacted by the pandemic, Crombie said 66,000 jobs were lost in the city at the peak of the outbreak, and ongoing aid is needed, especially in the hardest-hit sectors like small businesses, aerospace, tourism, arts, and culture.
Lastly, Crombie called on the government to address housing affordability as house prices continued to skyrocket.
"Mississauga needs a committed federal government partner to provide consistent, predictable, direct and long-term funding to allow us to continue building Mississauga into a world-class city," she said.