During a conference with municipal representatives yesterday, Dalton McGuinty announced that if re-elected in October, the Liberal government would take back the costs of two provincial programs previously downloaded onto the city of Toronto. McGuinty promised that the costs of both the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Drug Benefit Program would be uploaded back to the province, alleviating Toronto of a $217 million burden.
While the city would still have a $358 million shortfall to deal with and would only see $38 million of the savings in the first year, this move sees a departure from what has until this point been a principled stance for McGuinty. Until yesterday, the Premier had consistently maintained that he would make no changes to any policies related to provincial-municipal relationships until a provincial panel on the subject released their report after the election. The announcement also departs from the comments of McGuinty’s finance minister, Greg Sorbara, who just three days ago said that the provincial surplus would not be used to alleviate Toronto’s fiscal hardships.