Statement on Regulating Marijuana Dispensaries in Toronto


Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition stands united with concerned stakeholders in supporting an end to the crackdown of marijuana dispensaries in Toronto.

We learned last week that Mayor John Tory directed the Licensing and Standards Committee to request that city staff report on how the city could license and regulate marijuana dispensaries. The Mayor took this a step further and demanded city staff and police crack down on dispensaries and target their landlords with significant fines up to $50,000.

This crackdown on marijuana dispensaries in Toronto costs taxpayers more money and is disrespectful to thousands of taxpayers who are losing access to essential safe spaces for medicinal marijuana.

It will cost the city thousands of dollars to produce a premature report when the city should be waiting for the federal government’s promised legislation to legalize marijuana, expected later this year. “The shutdown of dispensaries exposes the city to significant financial liability,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president, Andrea Micieli. Current regulations being used to justify this have been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Court decision. And yet, Toronto Police have been given a make-work project to hand deliver notices to landlords and dispensaries.

“Taxpayers are footing the bill for enforcement and possible legal challenges through the court. Instead of allocating resources to shut down dispensaries, the City should think outside the box and focus on creating a revenue stream through the eventual sale of marijuana,” continues Micieli.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition calls on the city to cease all active enforcement. Medical marijuana is a Health Canada recognized medicine. Thousands of vulnerable taxpayers, including senior citizens and veterans, rely on storefront dispensaries as an accessible alternative to mail-order medicinal marijuana and healthcare system waitlists.

“We understand Mayor Tory faces the burden of intense lobbying from big pharmaceutical companies hoping for control of medicinal marijuana distribution. We hope the Mayor chooses to prioritize the health of vulnerable taxpayers before the wallets of lobbyists, and stops the use of city resources to enforce unconstitutional regulations” concludes Micieli.


Statement on the death of Rob Ford


March 22, 2016

Toronto, ON – It is with profound sadness that we come to terms with the death of former mayor, Rob Ford. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition sends our condolences and our prayers to his wife, Renata Ford, his children Stephanie and Douglas, and the entire Ford family.

We looked on with pride as Mayor Rob Ford continued campaigning for election as councillor in Ward Two after being diagnosed with cancer in 2014. That action embodied the spirit of Rob: determined to serve his community, determined to represent the taxpayer, selflessness above all else.

Rob Ford served his constituents as councillor for 10 years, and as Mayor of Toronto for 4 years. During that time he built was is referred to as “Ford Nation”: a coalition of taxpayers (both citizens and permanent residents), who were often ignored by the political elites and the establishment but found a genuine champion in Rob Ford. It is this coalition of voters in his ward, and across the city, where Rob Ford found his greatest support. He was the champion of the everyman. The champion of the resident who is often ignored.

Rob Ford re-defined what it is to be a retail politician. Rob would regularly visit constituents at their home, TCHC residents at their buildings, and call whoever he could not reach directly. He was passionate about people and public service, and represented constituents without prejudice. That is a quality rare in modern politics.

Many of our Coalition members were proud supporters of Rob Ford. To us, he showed incredible kindness and partnership, and a genuine desire to make Toronto great.

When Rob Ford faced well-documented personal struggles, Ford Nation stood by him and many others looked on with wonder. To us, his support amidst the turmoil made sense: Rob Ford made people feel special. The least we could do was show him the love and compassion he showed Torontonians as their representative.

Every person deserves a second shot at a better personal life. Unfortunately, Rob Ford was denied this due to the terrible disease that is cancer. Our thoughts our with his family.

Rest in peace, Mr. Mayor. You will be missed.

Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Statement On The Property Tax Rate


February 17, 2016

Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is satisfied to see Toronto City Council approve a 1.3% residential property tax increase, despite attempts from several members of Council to hike taxes higher.

In 2015, Mayor John Tory gave a clear promise to the taxpayers of Toronto to hold property tax increases to the rate of inflation or below. That increase was set at 1.3% for this budget season and a clear majority of 30 councillors voted to keep this commitment.

“On the Council floor today, we saw attempts by several left wing Councillors to change this property tax hike to something higher. While it is true an elite sect of Torontonians could volunteer to pay more taxes, the overwhelming majority of taxpayers should not be compelled to” says Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli.

Again and again we hear Councillors talk about Toronto’s property tax rate in comparison to other municipalities. This ignores the economic realities of the cost of living in Toronto, as well as the fact that residential property taxpayers are constantly hit with tax increases. From a “City Building Fund” that asks residential property taxpayers – again – to shoulder the burden of paying for infrastructure, to the recently approved 8% water rate increase and 3% garbage collection rate increase.

“Residential property taxpayers can’t avoid paying their property tax bills, their water bill, or their garbage fees. Yet, there is a perception their wallets can be emptied more. In 2016, the city must commit to a mature conversation about the tax base to ease the burden placed on residential taxpayers in Toronto” states Ms. Micieli.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition cautions City Council to not begin any discussion of taxation tools without serious proposals to cut spending in Toronto on the big items. City Manager Peter Wallace told councillors the biggest three cost pressures for the city are the Toronto Police, the Toronto Transit Commission, and Toronto Community Housing. These are departments currently ripe with waste and overdue for fiscal reform.

Recently, we have seen movement by some councillors to push back against the unsustainable and exploding Toronto Police Services budget. No discussion about the city’s finances is complete without addressing this single largest cost pressure on the city’s operating budget.

“We have a KPMG report. We know that Freedom of Information requests from the public don’t produce line-by-line breakdowns of the police budget. There is a lack of accountability and transparency from an organization that is supposed to serve the public who pays them. The police budget should be cut by the tens of millions, right now.” says President Andrea Micieli.

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Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Statement on Privatizing Waste Collection east of Yonge Street


September 22, 2015


Toronto, ON – This morning, the Public Works Committee of Toronto City Council made the wrong move in deferring the city staff report on contracting out waste collection east of Yonge St. This report will be deferred until the fourth quarter of 2016. That is far too long for Mayor Tory’s administration to fulfill a clear campaign promise.

The Public Works Committee was set to debate the staff recommendation to maintain the current mix of public and private trash collection across the city. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition disagrees with this report, and was looking forward to advocating for the many Toronto taxpayers and residents who have reached out to our Coalition saying they want this campaign promise fulfilled sooner.

“As a reminder to the Public Works Committee, and Toronto City Council, the top two placing mayoral candidates in the 2014 election – John Tory and Doug Ford – collectively earned 74% of the vote, and both supported privatization. There is a clear mandate from across Toronto, and specifically votes from Scarborough, for the privatization of waste collection,” states Toronto Taxpayer Coalition President, Andrea Micieli.

Mayor John Tory recently said he is committed to implementing a trash collection system for Toronto that is “the best service at the lowest possible cost.” It is clear that system requires privatization on the east end of the city to maximize both savings and service for all Toronto taxpayers and residents.

Toronto has saved $12-million through the privatization of trash collection west of Yonge St. The same level of service, if not improved level of service, has become the standard with a private contractor. In fact, a recent report by The Toronto Star shows a “stark contrast between the number of complaints for missed waste collection in Toronto’s east and west ends.” Missed garbage collection complaints have dropped by 10 percent in the west end, but increased by a whopping 29 percent in the east end – where privatization of waste collection is absent!

“This could have been an easy win for Mayor Tory had he moved to contract out more waste collection in the first months after he was elected. It is unfortunate this administration is delaying a campaign promise to east end taxpayers and the voters of Scarborough” states Toronto Taxpayer Coalition President Andrea Micieli.

Further, with the city’s contracts with inside and outside workers expiring at the end of this year, we are very concerned with how the absence of resolve on privatizing waste collection will affect Mayor Tory’s negotiations with labour leaders. The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition hopes this is not a sign of a kid-glove approach to these negotiations that could produce hundreds of millions in savings for Toronto taxpayers.


Toronto and York Region Taxpayers Coalition Statement on Olympics Bid


September 15, 2015

Contact: Andrea Micieli, President


Toronto, ON – This morning, Mayor John Tory announced his decision to decline a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition together with our regional partner, the York Region Taxpayers Coalition, is satisfied this debate has come to an end. Our position can be summarized as follows:

First, world class cities like Toronto don’t need events like the Olympics to prove ourselves as “world class.” Toronto is already among the elite cities in the world because of our diversity, economic opportunity, and our culture.

Second, there is an issue with the process when such a decision is left in the hands of the Mayor alone. “In the future, the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition would expect to see changes to allow input from Toronto City Council, the provincial and federal governments, but most importantly, the public” says Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli. Taxpayers would, after all, be footing the bill for what is expected to be billions of dollars required. The public should have a say in whether public funds will be used to this end.

Third, with a short timeframe to draft a potential Olympics bid, neighbouring local governments were not given the opportunity to collaborate. “A Summer Olympics would not affect Toronto alone. Governments such as York Region and Peel Region would be expected to share the financial burden. Mississauga declined last week. That is a strong sign the GTA was not prepared,” says York Region Taxpayers Coalition President Maddie Di Muccio.

Just 11 months ago, Torontonians went to the polls to shape our city’s future. At the time, hosting the 2024 Olympics was not part of Mayor Tory’s platform. In future elections, we are calling on potential council and mayoralty candidates to be forthcoming with the voting public about multi billion dollar ambitions, such as hosting the Olympics, and allow the public the opportunity to have input via the ballot box.

Andrea Micieli,
Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President

Maddie Di Muccio,
York Region Taxpayers Coalition President

About the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition:
Founded in 2010, the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is a non-partisan advocate for the municipal taxpayer. We are committed to lower taxes, less waste, and holding government to account with respect to how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money. While taxes are a fact of life, properly tendering contracts, prudent fiscal planning, budgeting, and spending will dramatically reduce the tax burden on Toronto residents.

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Win for Toronto Taxpayers: Hybrid Option For Gardiner East Passes


Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition congratulates its members in successfully pushing City Council to maintain an elevated Gardiner Expressway East.

“This is a win for taxpayers, commuters, and businesses investing and operating in Toronto,” says Toronto Taxpayer Coalition President Andrea Micieli. “Deputy City Manager John Livey said it was ‘imperative’ that City Council make a decision on the Gardiner East and, today, Council acted in the best interests of all Torontonians by supporting the Hybrid model over the regressive Boulevard model for the Gardiner East.”

In the past two days of City Council debate we saw an increasingly partisan, left-wing faction of Council argue that maintaining and improving a stretch of elevated expressway is less important than planting hundreds more trees. That a “grand boulevard” with 8 – 10 lanes of stop-and-go traffic is more important than the safety of pedestrians and the delivery of goods and services through the downtown core. Shockingly, we saw city staff confirm that the speed limit on this “grand boulevard” would be lowered to a slow 50 kilometres per hour. This would have been a dangerous route for Toronto to take in transit infrastructure planning.

“The majority of city councillors looked past irrational talking points and utopian visions and looked towards addressing the congestion crisis that is getting worse each day,” notes Research Director Joshua Lieblein. “It was clear from reports and analysis that the Hybrid model is the best option to ensure drivers in Toronto don’t face greater hurdles, and that businesses are able to move goods and services in and out of the city.”

The Hybrid model for the Gardiner East passed on a vote of 24 – 21 due to strategically designed motions that appeased several fence-sitting councillors. “Toronto city councillors heard the outcry from driving commuters in this city, including our own Taxpayer Coalition members, and from major groups like the Ontario Food Terminal. Toronto could not afford to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in productivity. Keeping this stretch of express highway is the fiscally responsible choice,” added Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Andrea Micieli.

It is the proper role of municipal government to fund and maintain hard services such as vital public infrastructure. It is critical that the City of Toronto plan for the next decades of multiplying population growth and development. This includes maintaining the current network of express highways. We hope Toronto City Council has turned the page on making highways a partisan issue and looks ahead to infrastructure projects that will benefit taxpayers in Toronto.

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The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Endorses The Hybrid Option For The Gardiner East


Toronto, ON – The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is formally announcing its support of the Hybrid option for the Gardiner Expressway East.

“We have one chance to get this right,” says Toronto Taxpayers Coalition President Andrea Micieli. “Toronto’s streets are already choked with cars. Spending the next several years tearing down a chunk of the Gardiner to replace it with an 8-lane boulevard dotted with traffic lights is an irresponsible move that will worsen the congestion crisis crippling Toronto’s streets.” As our city’s population grows – adding another half-million people by 2031 according to the city’s own Official Plan – the focus must be on reducing travel times and gridlock.

The Hybrid proposal will maintain the continuous express link between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway while re-calibrating ramps on and off the Gardiner East. Choosing this option will keep the number of highway lanes through Toronto at 15, still far behind other major North American cities of similar population such as Boston (28 lanes of express highways), Miami (34 lanes) and Washington (21 lanes). If City Council votes to maintain the elevated expressway, it will also choose to unlock eastern waterfront development and the potential for billions of dollars injected into the local economy.

“We’ve seen an expensive and, frankly, quite partisan attempt by the tear-down lobby to make this yet another battle about people versus cars,” notes Toronto Taxpayer Coalition Research Director Joshua Lieblein. “They’re trying to devalue and demean the experiences of drivers, while we’re proud to stand with groups such as the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the Toronto Financial District BIA, the Ontario Trucking Association, and the waterfront business Redpath Sugar in supporting the Hybrid option.”

Research provided by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Intelligent Transportation Systems estimated that commute times will increase up to 10 minutes in both directions if the Gardiner East is removed. “Residents will be processing the smog generated by four years of construction and all the additional cars idling at red lights as they struggle with longer commutes” says Lieblein. “The tear-down lobby is not being honest. Instead of seeing a cafe and tree-lined boulevard, pedestrians will experience unbearable traffic congestion and difficulty crossing more lanes at signalized intersections.”

Advocates of removing the Gardiner East fail to take into account that the city’s business does not end at the border of Toronto. The city has a responsibility to facilitate the flow of goods, services, and people in and out of the 416 and that includes maintaining a network of express highways.

“Council must consider the long-term consequences of the city losing $37-million per year in productivity just on removing the Gardiner East, on top of the billions already lost by congestion facing the entire GTA,” warned Micieli. “That accumulated cost is too great to ignore, and will quickly dwarf the amount it will cost to make the Hybrid model a reality.”

The Hybrid option could cost up to $1-billion for capital and long-term operating expenditures – twice as much as removing the Gardiner East. That is not a small number to consider and it is expected that the city maximizes and accounts for every dollar spent. But we can not forget that Toronto is home to Canada’s largest economy. Maintaining an east-west highway link is not only the more fiscally responsible choice for Toronto in the long-term but essential for both taxpayers and businesses investing in Toronto.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition and our network of members will be closely monitoring this week’s debate at City Council. We urge all interested parties to contact their councillor and voice their support of the Hybrid option.


Sunshine List Loophole Allows Some Individuals To Avoid Disclosure


Toronto’s public servants are battening down the hatches in preparation for the storm over the annual Public Sector Disclosure list, also known as the Sunshine List, by making their disclosures as cloudy as possible. The list provides taxpayers with basic facts: name, amount earned, and in many cases, a vague job title. Toronto Taxpayers Coalition is urging the province to close a loophole that doesn’t total earnings of people collecting multiple taxpayer-funded salaries.

The group notes that many of the job titles include “Captain Communications,” “Enterprise Technical Support Specialist,” “Field Training Officer Level 2″, “Manager Development Engineering Engineering Construction Services”, and “Administrator.”

“I’m seeking to understand the differences between an ‘Inspector’ and an ‘Inspector Generalist’” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Outreach Coordinator Andrea Micieli. “Knowing these employees were paid salaries over $100,000 gives me reason to question administration costs and positions.”

The list indicates there are 15 “Library Service Managers” employed by the city of Toronto who are making over $100,000 a year, but only 6 land surveyors.

“Although the creation of the Sunshine List was to increase transparency in government, it needs to go further,” noted coalition Research Director and Outreach Coordinator Josh Lieblein. “For example, without metrics defining taxpayers’ needs, there’s no way to know which need is being met, or if it is being met at all, for the amount of money city staff are being paid.”

The coalition calls on public-sector employees to define their roles with more clarity for taxpayers in order to justify high salaries, and for governments to mandate more extensive disclosure, such as a distinction between personal and business expenses for each employee, or a specific breakdown of an employee’s duties.

“Torontonians are looking at yet another annual increase and bloat in government salaries at a time we’re seeing a higher unemployment rate,” pointed out coalition President Matthew McGuire. “What taxpayers really want is a clear horizon when it comes to knowing how their tax dollars are spent.”

Finally, the coalition is asking the province to close the Sunshine List Loophole that allows, for example, an individual who is a part time town councillor in one municipality and works a full time job also subsidized by taxpayers to avoid having their true earnings reflected on the Sunshine List. “In fact, this individual may even avoid any disclosure at all, even if their total earnings are greater than $100,000 annually,” McGuire added.

Police Salary Disclosure Demonstrates Political Pork: TTC


The Toronto Police Service’s sunshine list reveals that over half of all police employees earned six figures in 2014. In total, 4,125 police and civilian employees are earning $100,000 or more annually; a figure that has Toronto Taxpayers Coalition demanding answers.

“Toronto Police Services take up the biggest portion of Toronto’s overall budget, and salary costs are a big part of that,” said coalition president Matthew McGuire. “With over half of Toronto police service’s staff earning six figures, it’s easy to see that costs need to be reigned in.”

A recent study by Workopolis, Canada’s largest career website, found that the average Ontarians yearly salary is $49,088. The coalition argues that taxpayers who pay the salaries have a right to demand answers and deserve more than “excuses and cop-outs”.

If there’s a silver lining for taxpayers, it’s that the list now includes “paid duty earnings” where officers work off hours for third parties argues Josh Lieblein, Outreach Coordinator for the coalition.

“Other Ontario police forces have long disclosed paid duty earnings, and we’ve been pressuring Toronto police to include these figures for years. Including this information gives the public a clearer picture of the labour costs in the Toronto police budget.”

With Toronto seeing a 42% drop in crime over the past decade, the coalition argues the police budget is a matter of supply and demand economics. “When crime rates drop, police spending should also go down. It’s no wonder that with budgets like this we can’t afford to build essential public transit infrastructure, or repair the crumbling Gardiner” McGuire adds.

Toronto Taxpayers Coalition Rallies Opposition To Tory’s Trash Tax: Councillors Get An Earful, Tory’s Fiscal Cred in Tatters


Mayor John Tory and council’s left had a tougher time than expected getting a 58% increase in garbage bin fees approved by council thanks to a sustained campaign from the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition.

“John Tory managed to hike taxes to pay for his budget today, but he spent whatever credibility he had as a fiscal conservative,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Matthew McGuire.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition took the lead on the solid waste file, actively promoting our campaign on social media and urging our members to email their councillors to vote against Tory’s scheme to remove a rebate on the new garbage bins; playfully nicknamed “Tory’s Trash Tax”.

“Our members received quick replies from their councillors, which shows that the men and women Torontonians sent to City Hall to represent their views were paying close attention to what was being said,” McGuire pointed out.

While Tory’s Trash Tax passed the vote today, 10 councillors voted against it and Tory was forced to agree to look at freezing solid waste rates for 2016.

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition will continue monitoring City Council and public opinion for reaction to Tory’s Trash Tax.

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