It’s heartwarming to read the unusually warm words spoken about Toronto at yesterday’s emergency session of the legislature. The Premier praised Torontonians for their “characteristic goodwill, patience, and grace”, while Labour Minister — and former Toronto city councillor — Brad Duguid highlighted the importance of the TTC to the city’s operation:
…we cannot stand by while the dispute shuts down this vital transportation system in Toronto, affecting millions of people and businesses…
The TTC is integral to reducing the burden of traffic congestion on the streets and public highways of Toronto. The shutdown will create traffic gridlock. This does more than simply inconvenience drivers. If more cars are on the road, this will translate into higher pollution levels, with the related health effects and impact on our environment. More importantly, this can severely impact emergency services, making it difficult to respond quickly to life-threatening situations.
And both McGuinty and Duguid are at pains to point out the ramifications of a TTC shutdown for the province as a whole.
McGuinty: “It goes without saying that Toronto, our capital city, plays an important role for all Ontarians, and we all need Toronto to be strong so Ontario can be strong.”
Duguid: “A shutdown of the service has severe financial ramifications that extend far beyond the boundaries of Toronto and far beyond the TTC service area.”
So we’re all agreed then? The TTC is important? We need public transportation in Ontario’s capital city for the environmental health of some and the financial wellness of the province as a whole?
Fine. It’s not funded as an essential service, though. When’s the discussion about restoring provincial funding for the operating costs of the TTC?