All taxpayers should fund increases in emergency services|
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If the proposed 2003 Budget is approved, 1/3 of the net operating budget will
pay for police, fire and emergency medical services (paramedics), more than any
other single category. City of Toronto Budget Chair David Shiner today
encouraged the province to allow the City of Toronto to spread the increased
cost of these services more equitably to all who benefit.
"The City and the Province have common goals in recognizing the importance of
maintaining the public safety and security of our community. Ensuring that
Toronto remains one of the safest cities in the world was a key budget
principle established in 2002. The proposed 2003 Budget demonstrates the City's
continued commitment to this principle by maintaining 2002 service levels and
includes an increase of $42 million to maintain frontline staff in the three
emergency services areas."
Each day the City of Toronto increases by one million people, most of who come
into the city to work. Businesses benefit from the emergency services
available to them and their employees. It is only reasonable that they also
share in the costs of providing these services that have increased
substantially since 1998.
However, as a result of Bill 140 (provincial legislation) Toronto homeowners
must carry the full burden of any tax increase that may be necessary to protect
these frontline staff. This provincial legislation does not permit the City to
pass any increase on the commercial and business sectors -- two-thirds of its
total tax base.
"Since the amalgamation in 1998, the City of Toronto's budget for emergency
services has increased by $179 million. For the past five years increases to
business taxes have been zero," stated Councillor Shiner. He added, "With the
severe financial pressure the City is facing this year, it seems fair and
reasonable to ask businesses in Toronto to fund at least part of this year's
$42 million increase for emergency services."
Since 1998 the City has added 117 more frontline firefighters, 263 more
frontline paramedics and 185 more uniformed police officers. The City continues
to be involved in productive discussions with the province to seek assistance
in offsetting some of the operating budget pressures in 2003.
For more information on the 2003 City Budget, go to the City of Toronto Web
|Councillor David Shiner|
|City Budget Chair|