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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Transit Tax Deduction 2: Not This Year
Earlier, I reported there was hope for a transit tax deduction in this year's budget. Unfortunately, we had no so luck. As reported on Transit Toronto:
Most frustratingly, there was no announcement of any plans to make transit passes tax deductible. This measure, which would have been quite small in terms of funds, would have redressed one of the greater imbalances of our auto-centric country. One of the hidden subsidies of our automobile use would have been identified and transit altered to balance. But, alas, it was not to be. Although Liberal MP Judy Sgro would not say so publicly, newspaper columnists noted her clear disappointment over the Federal government's inaction.
Additionally, cities as a whole got very little in this budget.
Frances Lankin, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toronto, said "I'm amazed that those voices that outlined the urgent need for investment in the economic engines of the country had so little impact."
She refers to the recent push for more support for our cities, which culminated in the Toronto City Summit Alliance letter to the Prime Minister, written by notable Torontonains. As much as I feel that the federal government's budget was a let-down for Canada's cities, I continue to question where our Ontario government stands in all of this. All the financial burdens that are crippling Toronto lie in areas of provincial jurisdiction. All of them have gotten much worse in the past 8 years of Harris/Eves rule. How is it that after all the cost cutting and tax increases Toronto has already endured, it faces a 15% property tax increase if it doesn't successfully beg $80 million from Queen's Park? This is the wealthiest city in Canada. Property taxes are high. Services have been slashed and some are underfunded to dangerous levels (such as schools, where per-child funding has been cut 25%). And yet, our budgets are shot through with holes. What has changed in the City of Toronto? The answer is simple. Forced municipal amalgamation and the downloading of services that Mike Harris didn't like onto the people he didn't like. [Update, 11pm -- James Bow is angry too, but offers a slightly different point of view. Perhaps we should be mad at both Ottawa and Queen's Park.] [Update 2, Feb 20 -- John Barber has weighed in. Hopefully your browser supports the new Globe and Mail website.]



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