“We don’t have the luxury of time”: Toronto must reduce services considerably in a few weeks without the help of Queen’s Park or Ottawa, warns the mayor


The interim report on Toronto’s finances, released Tuesday, details how much the pandemic cost the city as of May 31 and estimates what it will likely cost by the end of the year. It also indicates where the money was saved.

In total, $ 513.7 million in savings were achieved, including a reduction in salary expenses after the emergency leave of 9,980 employees and a reduction in planned hires – including summer jobs -.

It also helped before the pandemic hit, the money poured into city coffers from municipal land transfer taxes was higher than expected – an additional $ 34.1 million. However, the income from this tax should be lower in the following quarters due to a reduction in house sales during the pandemic.

The lost revenue will contribute to major deficits in agencies in 2020, notably at TTC ($ 700 million) and Exhibition Place ($ 15.4 million).

Revenues for the Toronto Parking Authority are expected to drop a total of $ 96.4 million.

Lower ticket revenues and a partial suspension of collection activities due to COVID-19 will result in the expenditure of $ 14.7 million in court services.

The city plans to save $ 30.1 million on Wheel Trans services and lose $ 5.8 million in license and permit revenues, after offsetting savings in wages and benefits for employees.

The report predicts cost overruns for housing, support and housing of $ 185.2 million in 2020, as the city strives to maintain physical distancing throughout the housing system; $ 17.6 million in cost overruns in seniors’ services and long-term care related to COVID-19 prevention and containment measures; and additional costs of $ 11.4 million in technological services, linked to the possibility for city staff to telecommute.

The Toronto Zoo is expected to lose $ 14.6 million.

The report also notes that the federal government has yet to respond to a pre-pandemic request for $ 77 million to cover the city’s response to incoming refugees in 2020, which is needed to balance the 2020 budget.

Municipal budgets are required by law to balance, not to run deficits.

The new pandemic shortfall in Toronto for 2020 is now estimated at $ 1.35 billion, or 11.6% of the 2020 operating budget.

While the number of new COVID-19 infections in Toronto recently dropped to around 40 per day, Tory warned that the deficit could be larger if there were a second wave of infections.

The city manager will report to council later this month and again in September on the cuts that will have to be made if other governments do not follow through on the funding.

With files from Jennifer Pagliaro and Robert Benzie

Francine Kopun is a Toronto journalist who covers the town hall and the Star’s municipal policy. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF


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