The City Of Toronto Act says the following regarding the levying of new taxes: “Broad permissive authority to raise new taxes except in areas specifically prohibited, such as an income tax, wealth tax, gas tax or a general sales tax. New revenue tools do not fully address the City’s long-term fiscal imbalance. However, the Act supports the stronger inter-government relations and agreements needed to achieve financial sustainability.”
This is where you get the land transfer tax, and vehicle registration fee. It’s also where Toronto gets the right to mutter every so often about a hospitality tax, or lately an alcohol tax. Premier Kathleen Wynne is musing about extending similar powers to other municipalities. But she also says municipalities should consult voters, and engage with constituents about it.
Can’t help but see the irony in this. A Premier who didn’t bother consulting us when coming up with the Carbon tax. A regime that never asked us about a health tax is preaching about talking to constituents. It’s a little rich.
It’s a method that could create inequality in Ontario. Take municipality “A” who refuses to increase taxes and the population booms because of this. But the tax base doesn’t increase to match the service demands. Then Municipality “B” who raises them, and introduces new ones every time you turn around because the population shrinks. It’s a vicious circle.
Municipalities are creatures of the province beholden to Queen’s Park for virtually everything. Over the years, they’ve found themselves paying for more services (hospitals’ municipal share come to mind). If these powers come to pass, then yes it would make it easier to pay for services. But it could also create a sense of abandonment; a failure to take responsibility for the growth they’ve imposed on municipalities. That isn’t good for anyone.
This article in the Hamilton Spectator inspired today’s blog entry