Ontario Using Gas Tax to fund Municipal Transit

Ontario is boosting support for nearly 100 cities and towns across the province, providing them with reliable, long-term funding to improve and expand their local transit systems and offer more travel options for commuters and families.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca were at York Region Transit’s Richmond Hill facility today to announce the new investment.

The province has heard directly from people who are frustrated by their daily commute and from municipalities that are struggling to meet their transit needs. In response to these concerns, starting in 2019, Ontario will be increasing funding for local transit through an enhancement to the existing gas tax program.  “This substantial boost to funding for local transit in cities and towns across the province will help them make significant improvements that will have a big impact on people’s day-to-day lives,” Wynne said.  The province will double the municipal share from two cents per litre to four cents by 2021. There will be no increase in the tax that people in Ontario pay on gasoline as a result of the enhancement to the program.

Cities and towns receiving the new funding are able to plan for and make major infrastructure upgrades, buy additional transit vehicles, add more routes, extend hours of service, implement fare strategies and improve accessibility.

Ontario recognizes that commuters need reliable transit options before revenue-generating measures such as road tolls are implemented. For example, the ongoing GO Regional Express Rail project won’t be finished, and in service before 2024. That is why the province is not supporting plans for municipal road tolls at this time. This new investment, along with Ontario’s $31.5-billion transit and transportation investment across the province, will support more buses in cities like Thunder Bay and Windsor, new LRT lines in Waterloo and Ottawa, and GO Regional Express Rail in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, including SmartTrack in Toronto.

Tory Reacts to Wynne’s Decision

Toronto Mayor John Tory was frustrated with the decision.  “It is time that we stop being treated- and I stop being treated- as a little boy going up to Queen’s Park in short pants to say, “please, could you help me out with something that I thought was in the City of Toronto Act that I could do and to be to told “no, I’m terribly sorry, go away and come back some other day,” he said in a statement.  The City of Toronto Act requires the municipality to seek the province’s permission before implementing road tolls.  Toronto City council approved a plan for road tolls last month.