While Toronto looks to rebuild and recover from the pandemic, ongoing conversations about the budget are critical to ensuring that no one is left behind. Now, more than ever, we have to be specific about how we direct our finances. How can we make sustainable investments for our future? How can we help take care of ourselves and each other? Successful community revitalization is one where both the physical infrastructure and social development receive equal commitment and focus. Looking towards the future, this is how we can make our priorities known.

As we approach the end of 2021, we are eager to continue ongoing conversations about our community's priorities, and prepare to integrate these priorities into Toronto's 2022 budget. Keep reading to learn more about the budgeting process, and how you can have a say in shaping our upcoming budget.

What is the City Budget

The City of Toronto budget is determined annually. The budget is reviewed, debated, changed, and approved by the Budget Committee, Executive Committee, and finally City Council. There are three parts of the city budget: Rate Supported, Operating, and Capital. Both the Operating and Capital are built from tax dollars and financial subsidies from the Provincial and Federal governments. The Operating and Capital budgets fund City services, programs, and infrastructure and are approved by City Council every year.

What is the difference between the
Capital Budget and Operating Budget?

The difference between a Capital budget and an Operating budget is to differentiate how services are paid. Think of it like Capital budgets focus on big, one-time investment costs and are usually long-term, whereas an Operating budget focuses on budgeting for the day-to-day costs. For example, a Capital cost would include a renovation of a big downtown park. An Operating cost would be the annual staffing of that park.

The City is required by provincial law to balance its operating and capital budgets each year.

To balance the budget the City can either:

 

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Your involvement in the budget process is crucial for our democracy. We want to ensure the budget reflects the needs of our community, and getting involved during the City’s annual budget process is one way to do so.

Community members wanting to get involved can participate in the budget process for both the Rate Supported Budget, and the Operating (tax) Budget. Here’s a list of ways for you to get involved in the 2021-2022 budget process:

RATE SUPPORTED BUDGET

The Rate Supported Budget goes through the Budget Committee, Executive Committee, and City Council from November 2021 to December 2021. 

  1. Make a deputation to the Budget Committee
    1. Find dates to depute at the Budget Committee on the City’s website, here
    2. Tips for how to depute
  2. Send comments & feedback to the Budget Committee
    1. If you do not want to make a live deputation, you can submit a written deputation to the Budget Committee by email to [email protected], or by mail to Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., 10th floor, West Tower, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2.
  3.  Write to your City Councillor to ensure they support your budget priorities when the budget is voted on at City Council. For information on how to contact your City Councillor, call 311 or visit toronto.ca/council.
  4. Watch the ​​City Council and Committee meetings, which will be streamed live online at https://www.youtube.com/TorontoCityCouncilLive

OPERATING (TAX) BUDGET

The Operating (tax) Budget goes through the Budget Committee, Executive Committee, and City Council from January 2022 to February 2022.

  1. Make a deputation to the Budget Committee
    1. Find dates to depute at the Budget Committee on the City’s website, here
    2. Tips for how to depute
  2.  Send comments & feedback to the Budget Committee
    1. If you do not want to make a live deputation, you can submit a written deputation to the Budget Committee by email to [email protected], or by mail to Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., 10th floor, West Tower, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2.
  3.  Write to your City Councillor to ensure they support your budget priorities when the budget is voted on at City Council. For information on how to contact your City Councillor, call 311 or visit toronto.ca/council.
  4. Watch the ​​City Council and Committee meetings, which will be streamed live online at https://www.youtube.com/TorontoCityCouncilLive

Citizen Budget

In 2021 our office partnered with a Canadian company, Ethelo, to create a budget simulation exercise called Citizen Budget gathering public feedback on the City of Toronto’s annual budget. The purpose of this program was to show residents where their tax dollars are being spent and allow them to increase or decrease the levels of service provided by the City. In addition, the program allowed residents to see how these changes in service levels would raise or lower their taxes. The process educated residents on the City’s various services while asking them to provide feedback based on the City’s current service levels and budget.

The interactive budgeting tool ran from January 26 to February 19, 2021, and received 424 visitors, 170 respondents, and 3,338 page views. Here’s a summary of key participant feedback:

 

Children’s Services

Toronto Children’s Services promotes access to high-quality early learning and child care services and works closely with the community to develop a coordinated system that meets the diverse needs of Toronto families and children. Children’s Services helps families find and access licensed child care, including the cost and provides support for children with extra support needs who are enrolled in licensed child care. They offer funding, resources, and professional development to help agencies deliver programs that are high quality, accessible and inclusive. They work to ensure that all families in Toronto benefit from a range of services that promote healthy child development and family well-being.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

It is so important to give children an opportunity to build a foundation which will contribute to their success as they progress through life. A very worthy goal in my mind.

We need UBI for every human, including kiddos. We must maintain funding for these stop-gaps until other levels of government to step up.

Toronto Police Services

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is the police service for the City of Toronto and has approximately 7,900 full-time and part-time uniform and civilian members. These members include front-line police officers, criminal investigators, community response officers, parking enforcement officers, communications operators, court officers, civilian specialists and support staff. The TPS includes community-based crime prevention initiatives, law enforcement, maintaining public order and providing emergency response to major threats and public safety risks.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

More community resources, less police intervention.

Fire and Paramedic Services

Fire Services provides Toronto residents, visitors and businesses with protection against loss of life, property and the environment from the effects of fire, illness, accidents, and all other hazards through preparedness, prevention, public education, and emergency response, with an emphasis on quality services, efficiency, effectiveness, and safety.

Toronto Paramedic Services provides 24-hour pre-hospital emergency and non-emergency care and transportation to and between hospitals for ill or injured individuals and also offers public education programs to promote the rapid and appropriate use of emergency medical resources in a time of need.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

Investigate pay equity for these workers and increase range of services provided in place of police services.

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

The Toronto Transit Commission serves approximately 1.7 million daily commuters in Toronto and from surrounding municipalities. Public transit services are provided through the TTC’s network of subways, light-rail vehicles, streetcars, and buses. Their Wheel-Trans service provides specialized door-to-door transit services for individuals with accessible transportation needs.

The TTC undertakes a range of transit service planning and coordination activities to improve transit services and ensure there is the capacity to service ridership growth. Working with Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, the TTC plans and implements transit expansion projects to improve transit services in Toronto and connections with surrounding municipalities.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

Put a hold on transit funding until the post COVID needs are determined; do allow transference of increased service vehicles where needed but don't allow any new construction unless the area is underserviced (not underserviced on the waterfront).

We should maintain funding levels, but shift the allocation of that $ away from motor vehicle infrastructure towards active transportation (bike lanes, sidewalks).

Transportation Services

Transportation Services plans, constructs and manages the transportation infrastructure within the public right-of-way, including the public realm, sidewalks and roads.
The Division handles:

  • Seasonal and year-round maintenance activities (e.g., road repair, snow clearing, salting, potholes, sidewalk maintenance, grass cutting, street sweeping, etc.)
  • Traffic planning and right-of-way enforcement and management
  • On-street parking, construction, and event permits
  • Neighbourhood improvements, street furniture, and graffiti management programs
  • Infrastructure and cycling planning, management, and programming
  • Road safety, traffic signals, street signs, and pavement markings
  • The Division’s vision is to provide a safe, efficient, and effective transportation system that serves our residents, businesses, and visitors in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

The TTC deserves proper funding as it is crucial to people's lives and makes a profound difference in the quality of people's lives by connecting them to everything they need (to family, jobs, health services, and more)

Since the City is committed to reducing vehicular traffic the Public transit system must be first class. Money should be rerouted from implementing the expensive reduction of driving lanes across the city to the Transit System.

Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC)

The Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) is the largest social housing provider in Canada and the second-largest in North America. The City corporation owns and manages approximately 60,000 rental housing units in over 2,100 buildings across Toronto.

TCHC’s mandate is to provide clean, safe, secure homes in a state of good repair to low and moderate-income households, including seniors, families, singles, refugees, recent immigrants to Canada and people with special needs.They operate subsidized rental housing and provides related services; develops or facilitates the development of new affordable housing and subsidized rental housing, and delivers program-related services directly to tenants.

Read TCHC’s latest Strategic Plan (2019 – 2022) which sets the direction and business activities for TCHC.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

The lack of affordable housing is such a chronic issue today., Anything we can do to provide more and better housing for all those affected is deserving of increased funding.

Maintain existing structures but seek support from the province. There should be better housing available and they should be maintained properly. However, Toronto can’t carry this burden alone. The province should be building affordable housing.

Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA)

The Shelter, Support & Housing Administration Division is the service manager for housing and homelessness services in Toronto. The Division funds and oversees community agencies to deliver services, such as:

  • Emergency shelter and supports
  • Street outreach
  • 24-hour respite
  • Housing stability services (for example, drop-ins, supports to daily living, housing help and eviction prevention)
  • The largest part of this portfolio is the funding and oversight of social housing in Toronto including direct management of access to subsidized housing through a centralized waiting list.
  • The Division’s top priority is to ensure that vulnerable people can access temporary accommodation when they need it, and that permanent housing options are available, accessible and sustainable.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

Lack of safe and comfortable shelter accommodation for the homeless, refugees, etc. is another major problem that deserves increased funding.

Parks, Forestry and Recreation

The Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division ensures that people in the diverse communities of Toronto have full and equitable access to high-calibre, locally responsive recreation programs, efficiently operated facilities, and safe, clean and beautiful parks, open spaces, ravines and forests.

The Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division is responsible for the development and delivery of recreation programs to all ages; facility management and maintenance; community development, parks, horticulture and forestry programs, park and open space planning and the operation of specialized services, including the ferries, golf courses, waterfront and regional parks systems.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

Prioritize funding in low-income communities and communities of colour. People with huge backyards don't need more parks or golf courses.

The importance of Parks, Forestry & Recreation cannot be overstated. This is the visible evidence that the society living in this City cares about how it lives.

Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Public Library operates the library system in Toronto, which is the largest public library system in Canada.

The Toronto Public Library provides free and equitable access to library services to meet the changing needs of the people of Toronto. The Library preserves and promotes universal access to a broad range of human knowledge, experience, information and ideas in a welcoming and supportive environment.

City-wide library services are provided through Toronto Public Library’s network of 100 branches including 81 neighbourhood libraries, 17 district libraries and two research and reference libraries. Online resources, bookmobile and home services further extend public access to the Toronto Public Library’s collections and services.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

This is a third public realm issue which benefits us all. It is particularly important for those who lack access to the internet and to newcomers to our city who need to contact various programs and agencies.

The library is absolutely essential. It provides such amazing services to the community beyond books - community space, computer access, amazing and diverse programming, the list goes on.

Employment and Social Services

Employment & Social Services provides employment supports, financial benefits and social supports to people living in Toronto. Employment Centres are open to all Toronto residents, and offer a range of programs, services and supports. Staff provide a range of services including helping people find a job or the training they need to find work; access to financial benefits available through the Ontario Works program and connect to health, housing, child care and other social services. Their vision is to strengthen the social and economic well-being of Torontonians in their communities.

Voting Results

Comments from participants:

Maintain funding while pressuring other levels of govt for universal basic income.

Additional Resources

Connect with Kristyn

Invite Me To Your Event
Community Resources
Contact 311
Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W, A5, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2