Tonight a new Mayor of Toronto will be named. The campaign has been long and I can’t wait for it to end and for the city to move forward from its troubled reputation. Many voters have complained about increasing property taxes with one candidate promising to cut them if elected. Of course, these same people who complain about taxes being too high also say they don’t want their services cut.
Taxes are a fact of life, many people don’t understand what do property taxes pay for. In Toronto, they’ve been falsely told that our politicians have been wasting tax dollars but that simply is not the case. Property taxes pay for the services we use every day, whereas our Canadian income taxes cover major things like health care and employment insurance.
Regardless of where you live, if you want better services; taxes are what pays for them.
What property taxes in Canada pay for
Transit – Many people (myself included) complain about the transit options in Canada compared to other countries around the world. The thing is, those countries get help from the federal level to help pay for transit. In Canada, our provincial & federal governments help pay for expansions, but the day-to-day costs are funded from property taxes and cash fares. If we want better transit then we’ll need to pay or it.
Libraries – Some politicians complain that there are too many libraries and they’re a waste of money, this is ridiculous. Who wouldn’t want free access to books, movies, computers and programs?
Emergency services – Our property taxes pay for keeping our streets safe. In Canada, we’re fortunate to have excellent police services that help keep our crime rates down. Firefighters and paramedics also fall under emergency services and I’d rather not have those cut just to save a few dollars a year. We’re talking about life and death here after all.
Garbage / Snow removal – Breaking news, it snows in Canada. Ontario and Quebec were hit hard last year by the ice storm, and this past September Calgary got an early visit from winter. In both situations the local cities were able to quickly respond with snow removal because of their budgets which comes from property taxes. Money well spent.
Water supply & waste treatment – Water is essential to life. Think about how many people out there don’t have access to clean drinking water. I’m happy to pay whatever for clean water.
Recreational programs – Recreational programs are possible because of the property taxes we pay. Swimming pools, ice rinks, tennis lessons, camps, parks, and drop-in programs are just a few things that we can take advantage of for free or on the cheap. Be sure to sign up early for these since they tend to fill up quickly.
Schools – It’s awesome to live in a country where getting an education is free. Some of our Canadian income taxes help pay for schools but it’s our property taxes that have helped introduce student nutrition programs at some schools.
Property taxes in Canada also help pay for social housing, child services, road repairs and much more. In Toronto, we like to complain about high our property taxes are but surrounding cities actually pay more than those who live in the GTA. Regardless of where you live, understand that you can’t live in a great city without paying your share of fair property taxes.
It’s impossible to cut taxes and expect services to remain the same or to improve, hopefully, the people of Toronto have elected a new Mayor that understands this.