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Pleas To City Hall To Make Home Ownership More Attainable

Pleas To City Hall To Make Home Ownership More Attainable

Toronto’s budget subcommittee got an earful at Toronto City Hall Tuesday as members of the public, union leaders and business associations lined up to give their input into Toronto’s operating budget.

The hearings into the 2017 operating and capital budgets have been going on in civic centres around Toronto for nearly a week, but on Jan. 10 they came to City Hall, with nearly 100 deputations lining up in a full-court press on the proposed budget.

Real estate associations — including the Toronto Real Estate Board and the Ontario Real Estate Association — kicked the morning off urging councillors to keep the land transfer tax low and not make adjustments to rebates recommended by city staff.

“City Council should be making home ownership more attainable, not less,” said Tim Syrianos, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board.

He maintained the changes to the land transfer tax would make for significant increases on the taxes paid; 11 per cent for second-time buyers and 6.5 per cent for first-time buyers.

The subcommittee heard more from groups that decried cuts that were coming in the budget.

“I sympathize with people trying to fulfill a dream of home ownership, but there are many more trying to fulfil the dream of being indoors,” said Rev. Maggie Helwig of the Church of St. Stephens-in-the-Fields, speaking on behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee.

She said that $10 million in cuts in the base budget — including cuts to housing and shelter services — for the city was harmful to the city’s social fabric. In particular, she criticized the city for “actively planning to leave at least 100,000 households waiting and waiting for social housing.”

Childcare advocate Jane Mercer spoke to the committee, hours after she and other child care advocates had urged the committee not to cut subsidies and raise fees for daycare services.

She said the lack of child care “is pushing more and more families into poverty, onto welfare and into the street … This proposed budget is balancing the city budget with our provincial child care dollars,” she said.

She noted that there are 18,000 children on the waiting list for a daycare subsidy — all deemed eligible, but not funded.

The subcommittee also heard from library workers — urging the committee to put more funding into the Toronto Public Library for 2017.

TPL is recommending a budget increase of 0.9 per cent, but that still means cuts — a reduction of 8.7 full-time equivalents.

Library workers’ Union president Maureen O’Reilly told the committee that reduction, along with other cuts, would seriously impact library services.

“I fear it is the youngest children who will pay the price,” said O’Reilly, speaking not only of library services but others. “Precarious housing, children nutrition programs no longer exist. I don’t think Canada’s youngest children will care that we have the lowest property taxes in the Greater Toronto Area.”

The committee heard from social workers at the Fred Victor Centre in downtown Toronto and the Regent Park Community Centre, saying that service cuts would harm the vulnerable populations they served.

Source: David Nickle With InsideToronto.com

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