Mayor John Tory stands firm on low taxes in the face of massive budget shortfall, declining city services, declining property tax revenue
By the time the Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard the Ontario government’s application to halt Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cuts to services that the government had promised to “repair, maintain and restore” in court on Tuesday morning, the Ontario Superior Court had already set the scene.
The court was to consider whether the Ontario government should have to restore funding to libraries, colleges and universities and make an additional investment to ensure that education and training facilities will be maintained until the government comes up with a long-term plan to resolve the funding gaps that have resulted from the cuts, the premier’s office explained in a letter to lawyers before the hearing.
The court also will consider whether the government should have to restore funding to seniors-oriented services, including home care.
But Wynne’s government, while defending its $2.6 billion in spending cuts over three years to a variety of programs and services Ontario’s 75,000 public-sector workers and retirees rely on, had a different narrative to tell of a financial disaster.
The province’s finances are bad, but the government has not had to deal with a financial emergency as the premier has promised a decade ago.
The court case was scheduled to last two hours and will conclude today with a decision.
The province has said it will not appeal the ruling.
The court’s decision “does not mean that the government has no options to make further progress to repair and restore the vital services and programs that are essential to Ontario’s economy,” said a statement from the province’s Ministry of Government and the Courts.
The province will continue to challenge the funding issue before the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the court said.
“We remain resolute that the government has a strong case and will continue to challenge the adequacy of funding for these programs,” a ministry spokeswoman said in an interview Wednesday.
The premier, defending the government’s spending cuts, has been telling voters, in ads and on the campaign trail, that the issue had been put off until after the Oct. 22 election because the government needed time to work on a long-term plan to address the $1.7 billion shortfall