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Olivia Chow, Doug Ford report ‘great progress’ toward new deal for Toronto after 2nd meeting

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow say they are “making great progress toward landing a new deal for Toronto,” as the city grapples with a $1.5 billion budget hole. 

The two met Monday — their second meeting in over a month — to receive an update from their a working group formed to address the city’s dire financial situation.

A joint statement issued following the meeting said the working group has met six times over the last few weeks and developed a shared understanding of the city’s financial position. 

“They have begun drilling down on shared priorities, including supporting transit, infrastructure, shelters and housing, as well as getting Toronto’s finances back on a stable and sustainable path,” the statement reads.

“Over the next month, the working group will develop a set of concrete, actionable recommendations that will be put in front of us to carefully consider. We are moving quickly and are grateful to our respective senior public servants for their dedication.”

Ottawa has an important role to play, leaders say

In the statement, the mayor and premier said as they look for long-term solutions, the federal government has an important role to play as well. 

“Toronto is Canada’s most populous city and is the largest municipal contributor to the country’s economy. Left unsolved, the problems the city faces, including housing asylum seekers, spill over into the broader region,” reads the statement. 

“We continue to invite the federal government to be a partner in a new deal that will help make sure Canada’s largest city, and through it, the region, province and country, is set up for success.”

Shortly before the first official meeting of the two leaders, the province announced it would be spending $26.4 million to help house asylum seekers in Toronto, after refugees with nowhere to go were sleeping on city streets because of an overburdened shelter system.

Toronto will receive $26.4 million of that total.

In July, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland rejected a request from Chow for hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support.

In a letter sent to Chow, Freeland said the federal government has contributed over $6 billion to the city since it was elected in 2015.

Chow met with Freeland for the first time in Toronto late last month as part of a string of meetings with federal officials to address the city’s deficit.

The two had “an opportunity to discuss how the municipal and federal governments can work together to ensure Toronto thrives,” the mayor said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. 

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