NEWS

Mayor Ford furious at province for ending transfer

06/24/2013 01:11 EDT | Updated 08/24/2013 05:12 EDT
Mayor Rob Ford claims the provincial government's decision to phase out a hefty transfer payment will force Toronto to slash vital programs that vulnerable people in the city rely on.

The Ontario government has been compensating Toronto for the cost of social programs the city was forced to take on in the past. But the province is now rolling back that funding, currently amounting to $150 million annually, as it assumes responsibility for many of the programs Toronto once had to fund.

The province is also going to write off a loan that Toronto had missed numerous payments on. To pay it off would have cost the city some $200 million.

Ford went to Queen's Park on Monday afternoon, in order to meet with Finance Minister Charles Sousa about the change in funding to the city.

Ahead of the meeting, Ford had made it clear he would ask the province to reinstate the funding. But afterward, Sousa was just as clear that was not going to happen.

"We have not changed our position on the phase-out of Toronto pooling because we are compensating Toronto in other ways and they are benefiting in other ways," Sousa said.

The governing Liberals say the new arrangement will actually leave Toronto with more money in its pocket than before. But Ford says the province is simply forcing the city to make cuts or raise taxes.

"I'm very, very frustrated right now," said Ford. "I'm getting punished for running an efficient government, that's exactly what’s happening right here."

The mayor told reporters he would not hike taxes above the levels that he had promised to keep them at.

Ford said that means that the city "will have to shut down some programs," which will end up hurting "the most vulnerable people" in the city.

While Ford may not like the government's position, it appears it wouldn't be any different if the Official Opposition was in power.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak wouldn't promise to keep that funding going if he were to become premier.

"I don't blame him for trying," Hudak told reporters at Queen's Park.

"I mean, every time someone complains, it seems like the Liberals back up the money truck and they throw more money on board."

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