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Freeland rejects Toronto mayor Chow's ask for financial help from federal government

ONTARIO —The financial woes of the city of Toronto have hit a roadblock as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland rejects Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow's request for substantial financial assistance from the federal government. The request, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, was intended to address the city's significant budget shortfall. However, Freeland suggests that the city should look to other sources for financial relief.

Like many cities, Toronto has been grappling with budgetary challenges, and Mayor Olivia Chow sought federal support to tackle the crisis-level shortage of shelter beds and cover the impacts of the pandemic. However, Freeland emphasizes that the federal government's ability to spend is not infinite, and while they remain a committed partner to the city, the primary responsibility for providing further financial assistance should lie with the Province of Ontario.

The Deputy Prime Minister's stance comes as Toronto faces a near $1 billion budget shortfall. The city's reserves, which hold a balance of $11.2 billion, could potentially offer some relief. Freeland points out that at least $1.6 billion is available in uncommitted "stabilization" funds within the city's reserves. She suggests that tapping into these reserves or approaching the provincial government for assistance would be more appropriate at this time.

Despite the federal government's previous investments in Toronto, which amounted to over $6 billion, the limits of federal spending become evident in light of the city's current request. While the federal government has provided substantial financial aid during the pandemic, providing further assistance may prove challenging given the constraints on federal finances.

On the other hand, the Province of Ontario is projected to have a surplus in the coming years, indicating its excellent fiscal position to offer support to Toronto during this challenging period. Freeland firmly believes that Ontario has both the constitutional responsibility and the fiscal capacity to step in and provide the necessary financial aid.

Mayor Olivia Chow remains hopeful for federal government partnership and support, but it seems that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's rejection points to a greater reliance on the provincial government to alleviate Toronto's financial struggles. The province's collaboration with the city will be critical in finding a viable solution to effectively address the current budgetary challenges.

It's worth noting that previous attempts by former Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie to secure funding from federal and provincial governments have also been unsuccessful. The financial situation in Toronto remains a pressing concern that requires collaborative efforts and careful planning to ensure the city's stability and resilience in the face of economic uncertainties.

In conclusion, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's rejection of Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow's request for financial help from the federal government sheds light on the limitations of federal spending. Instead, Freeland suggests that the Province of Ontario, with its projected surplus, should shoulder the responsibility of providing further financial assistance to the city. As Toronto grapples with a significant budget shortfall, the collaboration between the city and the province becomes crucial in finding sustainable solutions to address its financial challenges and maintain its economic stability.