A $ 1.5 million boost “would stabilize the existing program and allow expansion into 19 other schools and priority areas where there is a real need for children to have basic nutrition to start their school day,” Mihevc said.
He cited studies that show good nutrition reduces delinquency and absenteeism while boosting willingness to learn, and that municipal funding spurs other governments, private donors and parents to write cheques.
On transit, the city is courting a revolt as packed vehicles carry more than 500 million riders a year and fares rose a nickel this year, while council is poised to flat-line its TTC operating subsidy at $ 411 million, said Councillor Gord Perks.
“We have a transit system that simply cannot handle the demand,” Perks said. “When you keep charging people more for a worse service, eventually they’ll stop using your service.”
“There aren’t a lot of buses sitting around idle, doing nothing, so to do a dramatic increase in service means buying more vehicles,” Milczyn said.
The Ford administration was praised for allocating billboard taxes to arts and culture funding; adding $ 200,000 for library materials and $ 212,000 for free adult recreation; and hiring 40 paramedics.
The administration has also moved to hire 15 fire prevention officers and 20 firefighters, but continues to be heavily criticized by fire union officials for cutting the authorized fire fleet to 123 trucks from 128.
Councillor Paula Fletcher said the city should at least wait until fire reviews now being conducted are available.
“I don’t think we’re properly considering the fire issue, and I don’t say that because the firefighters (union) are having a campaign,” Fletcher said. “In order to make good decisions, we need good information.”
Perks argued that the tax increase — 2 per cent on residential and 0.67 per cent on commercial properties — can be further increased without causing a taxpayer backlash.