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article imageToronto mayor and Ontario finance minister argue via doublespeak

By Marcus Hondro     Jun 21, 2013 in Politics
Toronto - It's the kind of thing that happens when two levels of government get together and it's happening between Toronto and Ontario. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is giving a far different appraisal of a funding decision than is Ontario's finance minister.
That finance minister, Charles Sousa, is cutting some funding that has long gone to Toronto, funding referred to as a special 'pooling' fund that pays for some pretty expensive programs, for welfare, disability support programs and social housing programs.
Special funding for Toronto
At issue, says the finance minister, is that it is a special fund that other municipalities in the province do not receive. Not only do they not receive it but, Mr. Sousa says, they have complained loudly that Toronto does. Not fair, they say - why them and not us?
“We have made it clear consistently that revisions were going to be made to the pooling arrangement, which was put in place exclusively for Toronto,” the minister said. “Other municipalities complained that Toronto was even getting more than they were, so we’re just trying to be fair and equitable.”
In comes Mr. Ford, who seems to be denying he was told "revisions were going to be made." In fact, not only did Mr. Ford say he was "very, very concerned" about the proposed cuts, he maintains that he was "shocked" to hear about them.
“Friends, this money will have to come from cuts to vital programs,” the mayor said. “I am not increasing taxes over what I promised, one and three-quarter per cent.”
Rob Toronto - to pay Toronto
It seems to be a kind of rob Peter to pay Paul scenario, though it may better described as rob Toronto to pay Toronto. That's because according to Mr. Sousa, Toronto won't miss the 'pooling' funding because they will be getting more funding from the province overall to make up for it, and he says Mayor Ford knows that.
So why is the mayor talking about cuts to "vital programs." And how is it that to be "fair" to other jurisdictions the province will take a wad of money from Toronto with one hand, and then hand out an even bigger wad back with the other?
Two issues come to mind in all of this:
- how will the other municipalities in Ontario react to Toronto finally losing that extra pooling funding and yet having it returned in the form of another funding body? After all, if you and I can figure it out - won't the province's mayors? Will they sign off on it? Or will they go back to complaining just as loudly as they did before?
- Is Rob Ford simply taking advantage of money being shifted from one funding vehicle to another, using it as an excuse to cut programs he wants to jettison anyhow?
Mr. Sousa and Mr. Ford say they will talk on Monday and the mayor claims to be confident the two levels of government can work it out. Meanwhile, if you think you're caught in the middle of doublespeak from politicians with diverging agendas then join the club.
More about charles sousa, Rob Ford, Mayor Rob Ford, pooling funding cuts to toronto
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