Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the City consulting the public?

The City of Toronto is renewing its Long-Term Financial Plan – a roadmap for how the City will make investments in the future. We want the public's input on this important issue so we can build the city we all want.

We are asking people to invest a little time with us now – so that together we can invest in Toronto’s future.

Why is the City consulting now?

A Long-Term Financial Plan with well-articulated aspirations, clear priorities, multi-year expenditure and revenue targets, and effective planning processes will help us address key challenges and opportunities facing Toronto. To develop this plan, the City is asking for the public’s input and help in tackling some challenging questions about how the City can manage expenses, raise revenue, make the most of our assets, and manage its finances.

City Council has adopted economic, social and environmental strategies that can lead Toronto forward. A Long-Term Financial Plan can help Council realize that vision.

How has the City managed to balance its budgets in the past?

Often, to balance the budget we have to defer big decisions, cut budgets, postpone investments, and use short-term bridging strategies, like borrowing from reserve funds. Balancing past budgets has also been possible thanks to things like growth in revenue from the Municipal Land Transfer Tax driven by the housing market and operating funding from other governments – both of which are not guaranteed sources of revenue in the future.

As an organization, the City of Toronto works well and it will continue to work well. However, it has been challenging for the City to keep up with closing a persistent gap between expenses and revenues.

What can the public do?

Difficult decisions require mature conversations – and we believe we can make better decisions if we make them together.

We are asking the public to contribute solutions to the challenges we face, and to help ensure the City of Toronto runs well, spends public money wisely and delivers the programs and services we need and want over the long-term.

We ask people to contribute by:

  • Being informed: People can learn more about Toronto’s financial planning process on this website.
  • Being engaged: People can share input, ideas and solutions at public meetings or by visiting our website and participating online.
  • Spreading the word: We hope people will have conversations in and around the community and share their feedback with the City.
How will the City use my input?

Council has requested the City to deliver an updated long-term financial plan which offers options and recommendations from both an expense and revenue perspective. Among the concerns this report intends to address are the degree of risk inherent in the City's recent reliance on the MLTT to balance the budget and Council's future investment priorities including approximately $29 billion in capital investments required for housing, transit and other vital city infrastructure.

It is important that the City develop a realistic long-term financial framework. This will require significant dialogue with the public for input, advice and feedback.

The City has been saying for years that it has a funding gap, yet every time you find the money to close the gap. What's different now?

While the City no longer relies on the previous year's surplus, many of the methods that have been used to close the gap have been short-term measures that are unsustainable. It's time to address the City's fiscal imbalance and ensure that the City has a capital plan and fiscal framework that addresses the needs of Toronto residents in the future.

Why not just approach the provincial and federal governments for more funding?

The City is looking for funding assistance from the provincial and federal governments in support of priorities set by Council. Short-term cash is not a solution to these basic gaps.

Are the City's expenses growing too rapidly?

As a whole the City's expenses have grown more slowly than economic activity and the size of government has been broadly stable. Over the past six years, gross City expenditures have increased at a rate of two per cent compared to six per cent in the five years prior.

This moderate expenditure growth was achieved without significantly reducing the quality of public services and is the direct result of efficiencies that the City has achieved through line-by-line savings, program reviews, new technology and changes to collective agreements, in addition to significant benefits realized from provincial uploading and lower social assistance caseload.

If the City has managed its expenses to date, why should we worry about the future?

While the City has been able to maintain overall growth in expenses at a modest rate over the past six years, there are four relatively safe assumptions that we can make going forward:

  • The City will not be able to rely on future savings from cost-shared programs.
  • Fast growing public services and programs will continue to exert pressure in areas like water and solid waste. There will be continued pressure for congestion relief and investment in transportation, and core labour cost drivers.
  • Key agencies are grappling with cost pressures associated with retaining current service levels and in part are compensating for past underinvestment in state of good repair and capital investment. This is especially true for TTC and Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
  • We can expect that the City will need additional funding and debt service for unmet capital needs.
How will you be managing the collected data from the public?

To ensure proper representation of all participants, data collected through the online surveys, in-person public meetings, completed and submitted workbooks and consultation kits, responses received via post mail and over the phone will be reviewed manually to:

  • Remove any and all duplicate responses received from the same individual;
  • Remove any identifiable or other private personal information of the respondent, with the exception of the postal code;
  • Verify the data received does not include any replicated answer patterns;
  • Validate the responses received have been completed by a real person, not an automated system; and
  • Confirm responses have been received within the set consultation period.