Everybody Out of the Pool!
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Everybody Out of the Pool!

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It may be the least-sexy part of an already un-sexy concept (i.e. The Provincial Budget) but the end to GTA pooling is quite significant indeed. For the last few years the 905 municipalities have put hundreds of millions of dollars into a big pool to pay for Toronto’s social program costs.
The provincial government used to pay for social programs across Ontario (and now will again) but as part of one of his many cash grabs, Mike Harris downloaded the cost of social programs to cities. This meant that Toronto taxpayers, still reeling from amalgamation, would now have to pay for their own welfare and social housing; something unprecedented in Ontario and just about everywhere else.
To offset Toronto’s suddenly huge social budget, 905 governments were forced to send about about $200 million a year down to Toronto with no accounting of how it was spent. As former Richmond Hill mayor Bill Bell once said, they never even got a thank you note from Toronto.
Mr. Bell made an attempt at a Boston Tea Party-type revolution when Richmond Hill council unanimously voted to withhold their share which amounted to more than $15 million a year. In the end most of the other 905 mayors grumbled agreement with Richmond Hill’s principle but weren’t quite so willing to be rebellious and so the revolution came to naught.
The more cynical amongst us could say that the 905ers had it coming for voting for Harris (twice!) en masse. It was a wonderful situation where basically no one was happy except the provincial government.
You’d think, what with the minimum wage raise and all, that David Miller would be happy, but he’s being a bit of a sissy baby, complaining that this helps the 905 more than the 416. Frankly, to come to that conclusion you have to possess a pretty limited view of the relationship between the city and the ‘burbs but that’s nothing new.
The uploading will be phased-in over six years but the province isn’t cutting off Toronto: they’re just picking up the tab the way they used to. At worst, Toronto comes out Even Steven, which ain’t so bad.
Photo by kompot.photo from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

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