With advance polls opening for the Toronto municipal elections this week, and election day only two weeks away, the Wellesley Institute’s Healthy Budget Builder lets the user ask the question: what would you do if you had control of the $11 billion annual city operating budget?
The results have been coming in strong and here’s what we’ve heard so far:
Housing and childcare are important, police and recreation costs divide users
Users broadly support some policies across the board, while others are more controversial. Wellesley Institute analysed 200 completed and balanced budgets that users submitted over the past 7 weeks. These budgets highlight the strong support and priority status of two broad areas: housing and childcare. Users choose to pay for significant increases in services in both of these policy areas.
Other policies were more contentious, with more mixed support. Users did not agree on how to change the police budget, or the number of recreation program spaces there should be.
Increased taxes for more services
Budget Builder users generally want improved services and are prepared to pay for them with increased taxes. The Budget Builder gives users options on broad range of taxes, user fees, and revenue tools to pay for their priorities. When deciding on how to move the dial on the city’s largest revenue source, most users decided that the extra property tax was worth it for the services it could fund.
Why focus on the City of Toronto Budget?
The City of Toronto budget is an expression of priorities. It is the tool through which we collectively make decisions that make a material difference to the millions who live, work, play, and age in our city.
The budget affects the health and well-being of Torontonians every day through city services such as childcare, transit, roads, housing, emergency services, and recreation programs.
It’s good for people’s health to have enough money to meet their needs, to have a stable home, and to be politically and economically included in their society. These relationships have been studied extensively, including by the World Health Organization and the Canadian Senate.
Our city budget is an opportunity to help families thrive, but it requires that we make choices, set priorities, and follow through with funding. This tool is designed to contribute to an informed conversation on what kind of city we want to live in and how we can get there.