Doug Ford delivers Rob’s mayoral message

As told to his brother Doug Ford

By Doug Ford –

By Rob Ford as told to Doug Ford:

Rob Ford, Doug Ford

Rob Ford, Doug Ford

Two years ago, I was elected to reduce the size and cost of government.  And that’s what we’ve done.

This budget represents a turning point – a turning point in our administration – and a turning point in the history of this great city.

For a decade, Toronto relied on prior-year surpluses and one-time “found money” to balance its operating budgets.  In 2013 – that ends.

After two years of hard work and heavy lifting, we’ve turned the tide.  Our 2013 operating budget is balanced for the first time ever – without using any prior year surplus. Once again, we have held the line on spending.  Our 2013 gross operating budget is basically the same size as last year.

The size of government is also being reduced.  This budget reduces 124 positions in the City for a total reduction in City staff of 1,346 since 2011.

Getting here wasn’t easy.  Our Budget Chief Councillor Mike Del Grande took this bull by the horns and he wrestled it to the ground.  But he didn’t do it alone.  Every member of the Budget Committee – new and old – worked countless hours, and suffered countless criticism, to get here.  The Executive Committee, and all members of Council, have done their share over the last two years – and will again this year.

City Manager Joe Penachetti, Budget Director Josie LaVita and City managers and staff across the corporation looked under every rock and behind every cabinet to find ways to improve efficiencies and save money – while maintaining the high level of public services we have come to expect in Toronto.  There is still room for improvement, but we are turning the corner.

Last year, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, Executive Director Bruce Anderson and Chief Negotiator Bob Reynolds worked with union leadership to achieve phenomenal savings of over $150 million in our new four-year collective agreements.  We avoided a labour disruption and gave city managers the flexibility they need to improve customer service while managing costs.  Our employees deserve thanks for doing their part too.

We also privatized garbage collection west of Yonge St. saving $88 million and improving customer service in the process.

This budget is the result of two years of coordinated effort – working together to find ways to turn this corner and make this City stronger than it has been in decades.  On behalf of Toronto’s taxpayers – I’d like to say:  thank you to each and every one of you.

By getting spending under control, we are borrowing less and are no longer on a collision course with our debt ceiling.  Because of our fiscal discipline, international bond rating agencies have kept our credit rating strong – even while they lowered ratings for the province of Ontario. Because of this, we spent $10 million less in 2012 to service our debt and will continue to see the savings in 2013.  Over the next 10 years, we’re reducing our planned debt by $804 million while still spending $1.2 BILLION more on capital.

In 2011, we began an unprecedented Core Service Review and a number of Service Efficiency Studies that helped reduce our base costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.  These reviews will continue to bear fruit in 2013 and beyond.

The City Manager will tell you how 84 per cent of our growth in net expenditures in the last decade is due to Police, Fire, EMS and TTC. This year, our police service came in with a zero-increase budget.  Perhaps, the first in its history.  Well done.  Fire and EMS have also been asked to largely hold the line.

Some people will tell you this means the sky will fall.  Don’t believe them.  It is simply not true.
What is true is this:  the number of fire deaths last year in Toronto are down to less than half what they were in 2001, and there are fewer fire calls over the past few years.

Residents and business owners can be confident there will be the same number of firefighters and fire trucks in service in 2013 as there were in 2012.  Let me say that again – this budget will maintain the same number of firefighters on the job as last year.

We are mid-way through a review of our Fire and EMS services to see how we can improve response capability while managing costs.  We are always looking for ways to deliver better service at an affordable cost.  In the meantime, our 2013 budget will fund:
·         40 new firefighters who will graduate on February 1.
·         At least 10 new full time and 11 new part-time paramedics.
·         Four new Fire Stations – 1 in Scarborough, 2 in North York and 1 in Etobicoke. ($34.5 MM)
·         A new radio communication system shared by Police, Fire and EMS. ($42 MM)
·         2 new EMS facilities including an Ambulance Station at Plewes Road. ($18.4 MM)

Transportation is also a major concern in Toronto.  I campaigned on making the investments necessary to improve our network of roads, trails and transit.  For almost a decade, City Council neglected to maintain the Gardiner Expressway, which now needs a major investment just to keep it safe and functional.  This budget includes almost $2.3 BILLION over 10 years to maintain:
·         over 1,000 km of roads,
·         50 km of expressways,
·         600 km of sidewalks ,
·         150 bridges and structures,
·         100 km of off-street bike trails,
·         80 km of on-street bike path connections,
·         And 8,000 new bicycle parking spaces.

Whether you drive, cycle, walk, or use transit, you rely on us to keep this infrastructure safe and effective.

The 2013 Budget also includes funding for:
·         Major signal modifications, accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian safety. ($40.5 MM /10yrs)
·         138 new subway cars. ($71MM)
·         153 new articulated buses and 99 new regular buses ($222 MM)
·         $384 million to make the TTC fully accessible by 2025.
·         And completion of the Union Station improvements.

Finally, this budget includes $22.5 million, over the next few years, in new funding for the Arts.  This money should be used to help make Toronto an even more attractive place to live – and to invest and create jobs. It should also help engage young people across the City who find art as exciting as many kids find sports – keeping them in school and out of trouble.

Folks, this is a fantastic budget.

It’s good news for homeowners.  Once again, we are holding the line on tax increases – keeping them lower than inflation.

It’s good news for renters.  136,000 households in Toronto will get a rent reduction this year because we reduced property taxes for their landlords last year.  And we’re holding the line on their taxes this year too.

It’s good news for employers.  Our administration remains committed to working with businesses to make Toronto the top choice for employers to invest and create new jobs.

This budget represents a turning point for Toronto.  It’s something I was elected two years ago to do – and we’re getting the job done – as promised.  Don’t get me wrong – there is still a lot of work to do over the next two years – and I am committed to finishing the job.

We have come a long, long way in the past two years, but we are turning the corner and we are now on the right path – the path to a brighter future and a stronger Toronto.

Thank you.