Toronto In Decline? Well Duh!!

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Traditionally the business centre of Canada, Toronto’s economic engine is on the verge of stalling, warn experts.

Catherine Swift, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the current lot of politicians running City Hall “can’t organize their way out of a paper bag.

“It’s disgraceful,” she insisted.

Swift was one of four panel members at a downtown club on Wednesday night who debated the city’s future.

She and other panel members argued much of the blame for Toronto’s problems should be placed on Mayor David Miller and the the current crop of city councillors.

The wages paid to city workers are are a whopping 37% higher than what people receive in the private sector for comparable jobs, said Swift.

She added labour contracts Miller has agreed to with city workers during his seven years in office top the list of reasons why Toronto’s days as the country’s economic hub could be numbered.

Toronto Sun Columnist Sue-Ann Levy, who ran unsuccessfully as a Progressive Conservative in a provincial byelection last year, pointed out that the Miller regime has “squeezed every penny” out of taxpayers.

And it’s no wonder business owners and residents are fleeing the city in droves, she added.

“I think the city is reasonably heading toward bankruptcy,” Levy said.

Fred McMahon, vice president of research for the Fraser Intitute — and author of a 2008 study called “Is Toronto in Decline?” — told an audience of about 100 people that the latest census numbers and a recent poll of Torontonians support a gloomy outlook for the city.

“I think you can virtually take the question mark out of ‘Is Toronto in Decline,’” he said.

McMahon pointed out that Montreal was once Canada’s business centre, so it’s just as likely Toronto could fall behind another city in the future.

He said when such a change occurs, it starts with whispers and is followed by debate over a city’s vitality.

“There’s no announcement. Everybody just realizes the glory days are over,” McMahon said.

He said one major indicator of the city’s decline is the fact that while Toronto’s median income was 106% of the national average in 2001, it had dropped in 2006 to below the national average to 96%.

And if the city continues along its current course, he said it’s not unimaginable that Toronto could end up in serious trouble, like Detroit.

A Compas poll commissioned by the Fraser Institute for McMahon’s study found that citizens are just as concerned as the experts when it comes to Toronto’s future.

“There’s no question we need to get our spending under control,” added Toronto Councillor Karen Stintz, also a panel member.

But she’s convinced Toronto can reclaim its status as the country’s powerhouse.

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