Premier Doug Ford says he agrees that the City of Toronto needs a “new deal” for ongoing funding after holding a meeting with Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow Monday, but added that he’s not in favour of any new taxes that would help Toronto dig itself out of a fiscal hole.

Ford and Chow held a meeting at Queen’s Park Monday in their first substantive talk since Chow took office earlier this summer.

Following the meeting, the two said they had agreed to establish a “new-deal working group with a mandate to achieve long-term stability and sustainability of Toronto's finances.”


“Toronto’s deep financial challenges are no longer sustainable,” Ford said in a statement. “Toronto is a major contributor to Ontario and Canada’s economic success. Governments need to work together to deliver solutions that protect services, avoid new taxes and put the city on a path toward long-term financial stability. I look forward to working with Mayor Chow to build a stronger Toronto and ensure it remains an economic engine for Canada.”

Obtaining a new deal for Toronto in terms of sustainable ongoing funding from higher orders of government was a key campaign commitment from Chow, as well as other candidates during Toronto’s mayoral race earlier this year. Successive mayors have said that the federal and provincial governments have chronically starved the city of cash while heaping more responsibilities onto its plate to relieve their own fiscal pressures.

Toronto City Council had recently voted to explore a range of new revenue options to deal with a $1.5 billion shortfall. Some of those options, such as a municipal sales tax or tolls, would require provincial approval, however.

While Ford acknowledged that Toronto needs a new long-term funding framework, he said he is not in favour of implementing any new taxes or handing the city a slice of the HST.

“I just don't believe we should be raising taxes in the situation that people are feeling the pressure on increases in grocery costs, increasing gas costs, mortgages,” Ford said.

For her part, Chow said the “City of Toronto really doesn’t care where the money comes from” and said shared responsibility for major expenses like highways, shelters, child care or public transit could also be a way of helping the city without implementing new local taxes to increase its revenue.

However she said “the percentage has to be right. It has to be sustainable.”

Both Ford and Chow said they want the federal government to come to the table to be part of the new deal working group, which group will be made up of public service officials from relevant provincial and city ministries and departments.

They said they are hopeful there will be an interim report from the group in November.



In addition to discussing important joint goals, the meeting also afforded the two leaders an opportunity to do some fence-mending.

During Toronto’s mayoral election, Ford said a Chow win would be an “unmitigated disaster” for Toronto. He was forced to backtrack following Chow’s win. Chow in turn has been critical of Ford’s plans to revamp Ontario Place with a large private spa and waterpark and to merge it with the Ontario Science Centre on the remaining land at the waterfront.

However the two were all smiles following their meeting together Monday.

“I'm here with my friend, Olivia Chow. We just had a great conversation,” Ford said as the two came out to speak with reporters.  “You know, we've known each other for many years and our families kind of go way, way back.”

Ford recalled a time when his brother Rob Ford and Chow’s late husband Jack Layton were seatmates in the council chamber back when they were both city councillors.

Despite hailing from different political ideologies, the two were friendly.

“Jack and Rob showed that you don't have to agree on everything to work together,” Ford said before presenting Chow with a photograph of her and Rob Ford unveiling a statue of Layton together.

“I've also had the pleasure of getting to know the mayor as a thoughtful leader who brings people together because that's how you get things done, by working together,” Ford said. “And Mayor Chow and I are committed to working together.

“And while we won't always see eye to eye, we won't let our differences get in the way of moving forward on things that we agree on, like building homes and building public transit and critical infrastructure projects.”

Ahead of the meeting the province put out a statement announcing a $42 million commitment to helping house asylum seekers, with $26.4 million of that money going to Toronto.