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Premier vows relief

<p>When a disabled woman cashes her monthly assistance cheque, or a man on welfare fills a drug prescription, property taxes help pay for it.</p>

Plans to take back $935M in social service costs — if elected


When a disabled woman cashes her monthly assistance cheque, or a man on welfare fills a drug prescription, property taxes help pay for it.





Premier Dalton McGuinty plans to end that practice and relieve cities of $935 million in social service costs, sources say.





Today, at a conference of municipal leaders in Ottawa, McGuinty will announce the Liberals, if re-elected, will take back the full costs of disability support payments and drug benefits over four years. The commitment is worth $173 million to municipalities next year and $762 million in the following three years, a source told the Toronto Star.





“We’ve listened to municipalities and this has been their No. 1 ask,” the source said of why the province has decided to resume full funding for these two programs.





Towns and cities have been crying poor since these costs, along with others like public health, day care and housing for the poor, were dumped on them by the former Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris.





The move would mean $217 million for Toronto, $38 million of it in the first year. It would ease — but not fix — the city’s budget crisis.





Toronto’s budget has a $575-million hole in it. Mayor David Miller has proposed cutting $83 million in programs and services and raising $356 million in new vehicle registration and land transfer taxes next year. Factoring in the $38-million disability and drug benefit savings, it still leaves the city with a $98-million shortfall.















Not over yet


  • Mayors and councillors across Ontario are likely to welcome the $935-million announcement as a good step forward and then, without pausing for breath, point out how much more there still is to do.


 
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