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I Blame Queen's Park
12/04/2003
Back in February, when the federal government brought down its most recent budget, James Bow and I both wrote articles about which senior level of government we blamed more for the sad state of affairs in Toronto. We were both disappointed with the federal budget -- James (here and here) much more so than I (here). Today's John Barber column -- about the new Toronto City Summit Alliance report, which I wrote about earlier -- provides new examples about precisely how anti-urban the Harris/Eves government has been. Barber writes his column as an open letter to former premier Bill Davis, a member of the TCSA:
Oh, sure -- we can all blame Ottawa too. I don't need to tell a former premier that! But you also know that virtually every example of crippling underinvestment documented in the report falls under provincial jurisdiction. Cities are creatures of the provinces, and when the sores begin to show everybody knows who whipped 'em. Surely the most telling proof lies in the examples your own report documents of Queen's Park actively frustrating federal attempts to help the city. Ottawa has created a billion-dollar affordable-housing fund and yesterday installed a new minister to supervise it. But Ontario has refused to provide matching funds and has balked at accepting any of its $360-million share of the federal funds. Ottawa is spending almost as much ($900-million over five years) on early-childhood development. "But Ontario, unlike most other provinces, has not spent any of its federal funding on licensed childcare," your report notes. Funding has dropped $90-million since 1995, it adds, and Toronto has lost thousands of subsidized child-care spaces as a result.
This was new information to me. The way the Progressive Conservatives have consistently redirected money away from any service of relevance to Ontario urban residents is well documented. But, I didn't know they were so determined in their destructive mission that they would leave federal dollars on the table as a matter of principle. No wonder Toronto doesn't get its share of the money we send to Ottawa. Reading John Sewell's column from the March 27 issue of eye makes it crystal clear to me that with a decent government in Queen's Park, the City of Toronto would have little reason to complain about Ottawa. Thankfully, Ernie Eves has to call an election sooner or later.
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