Statement from Nate Wallace, Clean Transportation Program Manager, Environmental Defence

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat – Environmental Defence applauds Mayor Olivia Chow for securing three years funding for public transit and emergency shelter operations and maintenance. This will temporarily avert public transit service cuts and the ensuing downward spiral, as well as somewhat mitigate the crisis of inadequate shelter space which has forced a large number of unhoused Torontonians to sleep on sidewalks, parks and ravines. A provincial commitment to purchase new subway cars, and funding support to run transit service on the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRTs is great news for the people of Toronto.

However, it is unfortunate that the Ontario government required these important commitments to be secured in the form of a time-limited ‘deal’. The provincial government should be making long-term, structural changes in how public transit is funded in Ontario, to benefit all municipalities. Today’s announcement should have included a permanent return to the 50-50 provincial operating cost-share formula for public transit. This would also assist other municipalities in Ontario, such as Ottawa, whose budget currently includes further cuts to public transit service. Meanwhile, the uploading of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway will significantly help Toronto’s capital budget, but not the operating budget.

The federal government must now do its part. This past summer, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities had promised a new infrastructure funding program to replace the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), to be unveiled this fall. It did not come in the Fall Economic Statement. Without a ‘next generation’ program, Canada is hitting the pause button on funding public transit. The Permanent Public Transit Fund does not begin until 2026 and there is no interim transit program in place since ICIP was sunset in the 2022 Budget. It is crucial that the federal government move up the start of the Permanent Public Transit funding program to 2024, and expand it to include funding for public transit operations.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Allen Braude, Environmental Defence,, 416-356-2587