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New City of Toronto Act is Nice But No Big Deal

The new City of Toronto Act looks like it is a bit of bait-and-switch.

It's not that the changes being proposed are not positive -- they are. It's just that they leave unanswered the complaints that started up the process in the first place. But, the City of Toronto Act combined with the gas tax transfer will be enough for future Premiers to rebuff Toronto's pleas. It is a painless way for McGuinty to claim some credit.

There's nothing new about this. Leaks about the new CoTA have been around for a long time, and I wrote about this back in January.

If there was one change that could help Toronto a lot, it would be the uploading of social services back to the provincial level. They just aren't sustainable coming out of a property tax base, and there's no logic to making a municipality like Toronto solely responsible for these special needs.

The economic advantages of a big city come in the form of strong growth and high incomes. The entire province and country benefit from the income and sales taxes paid here. But the corollary in a big city is the special needs that congregate here. Toronto and the other GTA municipalities are left to sort these out essentially on their own.

Toronto in 2006 will certainly be on a better footing than in 2003, but it will probably still be considerably worse off than before downloading and amalgamation. If downloading were to be reversed, I'd see no reason why Toronto couldn't be self-sustaining.

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