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City of Toronto launches 2023 Budget that protects frontline services and makes key investments in housing, transit, emergency services and public safety

Arafat Rahman

On 10th January, the City of Toronto’s rate and tax-supported 2023 operating and capital budgets were tabled at Budget Committee for consideration, review and recommendation. The proposed budgets protect frontline services in the face of a challenging financial year and make much-needed investments in housing, transit, emergency services and public safety while managing affordability by keeping property tax and user fee increases below the rate of inflation.

As is required by new provincial legislation, Mayor John Tory will present the budgets by Wednesday, February 1 for consideration by City Council at a special meeting on Tuesday, February 14.

Toronto residents and businesses are encouraged to participate in the 2023 Budget process. Comments and feedback may be provided to Budget Committee in person, online or in writing, and to Members of Council in writing. More information is provided below and on the City’s 2023 Budget webpage.

Highlights of the City’s tabled 2023 Budget

The City’s tabled 2023 Budget will improve, protect and preserve frontline City services:

  • Protect recreation centre hours during shoulder seasons.
  • Keep outdoor pools and rinks operating on full schedules.
  • Continue to deploy seasonal parks works teams for spring and fall cleanups.
  • Keep all wading pools open.
  • Protect and keep all youth spaces open in City facilities.
  • Increase the Toronto Public Library budget by $8.5 million to cover both increased spending and COVID-19 pandemic-related costs.
  • Protect the Winter Maintenance budget to continue providing expanded sidewalk snow clearing across the city.
  • Ensure seasonal washrooms and drinking fountains in City parks are open earlier in the spring and later in the fall through an added investment of $2.86 million.

The 2023 Budget will invest in emergency services and public safety:

  • Hire up to 200 firefighters in 2023 (including 52 new positions, part of a three-year plan to add 156 new firefighters to Toronto Fire Services’ complement).
  • Invest $6.8 million in fire safety education.
  • Invest $30.6 million in fire prevention, inspection and enforcement.
  • Hire up to 250 paramedics in 2023 (including 66 new positions).
  • Invest $10 million in community paramedicine and emergency call mitigation.
  • Invest $35 million in emergency medical dispatch and preliminary care.
  • Hire 200 more police officers (including 162 more police officers to priority response units – with 25 of those officers focused on downtown – 22 more officers for major case management as recommended in the Epstein
  • Report and 16 more officers for neighbourhood community policing).
  • Hire 90 special constables to support frontline delivery and 20 additional 9-1-1 operators to improve service and response times.
  • Invest an additional $2 million in anti-violence programming to support youth and families.
  • Invest $17 million, a 22.7 per cent increase from the 2022 Budget, in crisis supports which includes the Toronto Community Crisis Service pilot launched last year that provides non-police responses to persons in crisis, and the Community Crisis Response Program which sends crisis supports to communities in the immediate aftermath of violence.

The 2023 Budget will invest in transit to keep both riders and frontline TTC employees safe:

  • Increase the City’s operating subsidy for the TTC by $53 million to a total of nearly $1 billion.
  • Prioritize TTC service on routes in communities that need it most.
  • Hire 10 additional Streets to Homes outreach workers to help vulnerable people on the transit system.
  • Hire 50 more TTC Special Constables to increase safety and security.
  • Increase cleaning in streetcars on the busiest routes.
  • Expand the Fair Pass Transit Discount Program, making 50,000 additional low-income residents eligible.
  • Freeze TTC fares for seniors, Fair Pass users and all monthly and annual pass holders.
  • Ensure transit expansion can continue and service levels remain above ridership through a below-inflation 3.1 per cent increase – amounting to 10 cents per ride – on single fares (approved yesterday by the TTC board following a two-year fare freeze).

The 2023 Budget will build and protect more housing:

  • Support the full implementation and legalization of multi-tenant housing through $3.5 million in new funding.
  • Protect tenants through $7.08 million investment in the Eviction Prevention Intervention in the Community program.
  • Increase housing supply through $18.85 million in funding for the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program.
  • Drive progress through $146 million for operation of the City’s Housing Secretariat.
  • Mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Toronto Community Housing Corporation through $10.8 million investment on top of a subsidy of $295.8 million.
  • The 2023 Budget also calls upon other orders of government to fulfill their jurisdictional housing obligations, including $48 million from the Province of Ontario to support 2,000 units of supportive housing under its responsibility for mental healthcare and $97 million to support refugee housing costs from the Government of Canada under its responsibility for immigration and refugees.

The tabled 2023 operating budget of $16.16 billion includes the $2.04 billion rate-supported operating budgets for Solid Waste Management Services, Toronto Parking Authority and Toronto Water.

Significant budget pressures

The tabled 2023 operating budget expects $1.08 billion in necessary funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario to address the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic ($933 million), refugee shelter response ($97 million) and supportive housing ($48 million). When combined with the 2022 pandemic-related shortfall of $484 million, the necessary funding from other orders of government required is a total of $1.56 billion.

In addition to these existing funding requirements are pressures of rising fuel costs, inflationary impacts on food costs and debt-servicing costs. The total financial pressures of rising fuel costs – which impact the full fleet of City vehicles from TTC buses to ambulances and fire trucks – comes to $46 million. The effect of inflation on food costs for City-run long-term care facilities will cost an additional $3 million – a 31 per cent increase over last year. And finally, the total additional pressure for increased debt servicing charges as a result of rising interest rates and additional capital investments comes to $65 million.

For the fourth consecutive year, the City has implemented a range of spending restraints and measures to offset the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic and recent global economic volatility. City-led mitigation strategies will result in significant offsets of $786 million in 2023 for a total of $2.5 billion since the start of the pandemic.

To meet these significant budget pressures, the tabled budget proposes a property tax increase of 5.5 per cent – below the rate of inflation – for residential properties. The increase amounts to an additional $183 for the average assessed value of a Toronto home; 2.75 per cent for multi-residential properties, 2.75 per cent for commercial properties and 5.5 per cent for industrial properties. The budget continues to include a 15 per cent property tax rate reduction to support more than 29,000 small businesses.

The total tabled 10-year capital plan is $49.26 billion, which includes funding for strategic areas such as transit, housing and climate action. It includes the $1.05 billion capital plan for Solid Waste Management Services and the $15.34 billion capital plan for Toronto Water.

The tabled budget includes a planned 1.5 per cent increase to the City Building Levy consistent with the City’s approved capital funding strategy, an additional $50 for the average assessed value of a Toronto home. Since 2017, this dedicated levy has supported, and continues to support transit and housing investments; $6.1 billion in the current 10-Year Capital Plan.

This year, for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Budget Committee will once again hear from Toronto residents and businesses in person as well as by video conference. Meetings will be held:

  • Toronto City Hall, Tuesday, January 17, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
  • North York Civic Centre, Tuesday, January 17, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, Wednesday, January 18, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, Wednesday, January 18, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards.

Speakers are asked to register by email: [email protected] or call: 416-392-4666 by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, January 16. Individuals may only make one presentation. Registered public speakers will be provided with instructions on how to appear at the Committee meeting. The meeting will be streamed live on the Toronto City Council YouTube channel Opens in new window.

Written comments can be submitted to the Budget Committee by email: [email protected] or by mail: Attention Budget Committee, Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., 10th floor, West Tower, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2.

Comments can also be provided to Members of Council in writing. Contact information is available from 311 or 416-338-0TTY (0889) and on the City’s Members of Council webpage.

A Backgrounder on the City’s 2023 Budget process is available on the City’s Media Room webpage.

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