john tory

Toronto might cut TTC service by 50% if other governments don't step in and help

Like most other individuals, cities, and governments across the country, Toronto is facing a deep financial crisis amidst the pandemic, and Mayor John Tory provided a bleak outline of what that could mean for the city should other levels of government fail to provide additional financial assistance.

Speaking during the daily press briefing this afternoon, Tory described a list of shocking service cuts the city would have to endure in order to address Toronto's projected loss of $1.5 billion

"Without immediate support, our city, like many other cities across Canada… is facing unprecedented cuts that will hurt this city and every person and every business that the federal and provincial governments have been trying to help over the last weeks since this pandemic began," Tory said urgently.

"I find the cuts completely unacceptable, unacceptable even to contemplate, but it's the reality of where we sit today."

Tory said his staff calculated exactly what would need to happen in order for the city to avoid a deficit if Ford and Trudeau both fail to provide financial aid to the city, and the results are gutting. 

First, Tory said a $575 million reduction to TTC service would be required, which would result in a 50 per cent shut down of the entire transit system.

Under this scenario, service on subway Lines 1 and 2 would be cut in half, Lines 3 and 4 would be shut down entirely, all streetcar service levels would be cut in half, major bus service levels would be cut in half, and there would also be a $73.6 million reduction in wheel trans service. 

This type of reduction is basically unimaginable for a transit system that is already grappling with how to provide sufficient, safe service in the age of social distancing. 

And that's only scratching the surface. 

Tory also said more than $23 million would be cut from Toronto Fire, Toronto Police Services would see a $31.3 million budget cut that would eliminate 500 frontline officers, and almost $40 million in childcare subsides would have to be eliminated (that's a reduction of almost 40,625 chilcare subsidies to families in Toronto).

The city would also have to cut the shelter services budget by $101.5 million, resulting in a 50 per cent reduction in shelter spaces. 

Recreational programs would also see a 50 per cent reduction of $40.8 million, which would result in the closure of 61 community centres and/or the loss of 600,000 hours of recreational programming. 

Toronto's long-term care homes would also lose approximately 1,320 spaces as a result of a $12 million reduction.

Library branches would also have to close, subsidies for community housing would be reduced, new investments in youth hubs and youth spaces to address the roots of gun violence would be cancelled, and capital projects would see a reduction of $451 million.

Tory said the city would also have to consider putting as many as 19,184 employees out of work, and that's in addition to the residents who are already unemployed as a result of the pandemic. 

"We would be left with a city that can't work, and it would be unable to keep helping the people who rely on that help the most," he said. "I have been working nonstop to bring this to the attention of the other governments and to secure their funding commitments and that work will continue."

Both levels of government have publicly acknowledged the situation in which Toronto and other Canadian cities find themselves during these unprecedented times, but neither has officially committed to providing any concrete assistance just yet. 

"I've had a lot of encouraging words, but encouraging words don't buy childcare, and they don't buy transit service, and they don't buy help for the homeless people. They don't buy anything, quite frankly," Tory said. 

"If they want to help seniors, if they want to help the most vulnerable residents and make sure that the largest transit system in this country...can function properly, if they want a robust economic recovery which can and should and must be rooted in our cities, then we need that help, now."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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