Toronto Board of Trade: do as I say, not as I do

Post by Eric Mang in ,

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tbot-logo.pngFunny how as the corporate welfare dollars flow freely the lobby group for Toronto businesses wants deeper cuts to municipal government; which would mean deeper cuts to public services. (I also find it paradoxical that for years Big Business has chipped away at, eroded, loathed and decried governments yet ran to governments for bailouts when those same businesses came crashing to the ground)

The Toronto Board of Trade (TBoT) wants cuts to municipal wages, cuts to municipal government staffing and would like to sell off public property to private business.

Many TBoT members and affiliated organizations make incomes that place them amongst the top earners in Toronto. Although too timid to take the police, firefighters and TTC unions to task for wage increases, TBoT still asks why pay cuts haven’t been made. In other words, keep chopping away at those Torontonians that make a decent union wage but peanuts compared to the salaries of many of the TBoT fat cats.

Perhaps cities are too limited in their revenue-raising tools. Grants and property taxes allow only so much flexibility. User fees are fine for certain services (e.g. to help contain consumption or modify behaviour such as garbage disposal) but set too high or on the wrong services and lower-income citizens may be barred from the services they need (For example, the TTC cannot keeping raising fares to the detriment of the lower-income Torontonians who have no other mode of transportation than public transit).

Perhaps it’s time we started looking at municipal income taxes. Swedish local governments depend on income taxes as their largest source of revenue. If provinces are going to demand that cities serve citizens with a wide range of services (and it is acceptable to make this request), then cities must have adequate resources. And those resources include wages for staff and enough staff to do the job.

Moreover, if TBoT is worried we don’t have enough money, then their members can start paying for public goods through city-implemented or city-granted income taxes (we are starting to realize that an unwavering attachment to balanced budgets is ideological and irrational – witness the BC Liberals and the federal Conservatives backtracking on balanced budget orthodoxy). Of course the taxes will be progressive – you make more, you pay more.

Income sacrifices on the part of Toronto’s business community (while they ask the public sector to make those sacrifices)? I won’t hold my breath.

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