Metrolinx 'Big Move' slowed down: Toronto Board of Trade

Budget preserves 2009 wins for business but transit infrastructure funding in question

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - Ontario's 2010 Budget fulfils several key economic commitments including the implementation of the HST and the delivery of corporate tax cuts, says the Toronto Board of Trade. However, it delays the implementation of the Metrolinx 'Big Move' transit infrastructure plan and threatens the future of four signature projects aimed at jumpstarting the GTA's long delayed transportation vision.

"This is not a good day for regional transit," stated Carol Wilding, President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade. "Our infrastructure deficit has become the casualty of a fiscal deficit with shorter-term priorities sacrificing the fundamentals of long-term economic growth."

Acknowledging the magnitude of the province's $21-billion deficit, Ms. Wilding notes that the Board of Trade is pleased that previously announced transit projects will proceed as planned, including the Union-Pearson/Georgetown Go-Transit link, Sheppard LRT, and York University line. However, the Finch LRT, Eglinton LRT, Scarborough LRT, and York Viva projects are likely on hold.

"Today's budget underscores the urgency for Metrolinx, the GTA municipalities, and our senior level governments to engage the public on the development of a long-term transit infrastructure financing plan," said Ms. Wilding.

Commenting on other elements of today's budget, Ms. Wilding noted that the Board is pleased that the Province is preserving important gains the Board advocated for in Budget 2009. "Reducing business taxes, moving forward with the implementation of the HST, and following through on short-term stimulus projects will help further improve the economy and create jobs," noted Ms. Wilding.

The Board also expressed support for additional new measures outlined in the Throne Speech and today's Budget. "The Open Ontario Plan responds to the Board's priorities by promoting emerging industries, strengthening the financial services sector, and investing in the enhancement and promotion of its academic institutions," added Ms. Wilding.

The Board notes that today's budget also acts on a number of other recommendations advanced by the Board in its pre-budget submission. In particular, the Province is proposing several deficit cutting measures, including finding efficiencies in program spending, reductions in global wage and benefit expenditures, and measures to ensure the long-term affordability of the health care system.

About the Toronto Board of Trade (www.bot.com)

Founded in 1845, the Toronto Board of Trade is Canada's largest local chamber of commerce, connecting more than 200,000 business professionals and influencers throughout the Toronto region. The Board of Trade fuels the economic, social and cultural vitality of the entire Toronto region by fostering powerful collaborations among business, government, thought leaders and community builders. The Board of Trade plays a vital role in elevating the quality of life and global competitiveness of Canada's largest urban centre.

SOURCE TORONTO BOARD OF TRADE

For further information: For further information: Christina Salvino, Public Affairs Coordinator, Toronto Board of Trade, (416) 862-4513, csalvino@bot.com

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