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Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow heading to Ottawa next week to plea for financial aid

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow will head to Ottawa next week in a bid to convince the federal government to sign on to a new fiscal framework, following a provincial promise to help tackle the city’s structural deficit.

“It’s not the gravy problem,” Chow said Tuesday of Premier Doug Ford’s acknowledgment that Toronto needs a financial fix.

“Our plate is leaking! So he said, we’ll give you a new plate.”

Ford pledged Monday to establish a working group that would develop sustainable solutions for the city’s recurrent budget shortfalls — without, he said, implementing new taxes or cutting services.

“It’s very good news,” City Manager Paul Johnson told CTV Toronto Tuesday.

For months Johnson has warned that the city was on the brink of financial crisis, facing a $46.5-billion budget pressure over the next 10 years.

“We can’t do it alone, and yesterday was an acknowledgment of that,” Johnson said. “Not only an acknowledgment that we need to sit down and talk about it, but an acknowledgment that our financial situation cannot be solved simply but looking to Toronto alone.”

Johnson, who will work with provincial officials on the new deal, said a sustainable funding model could be achieved without new provincial taxes.

“There are lots of ways to get there,” he said. “There are multiple pathways.”

Chow reiterated Tuesday that she and Ford are calling on the federal government to join them at the table. She will attend a Federation of Canadian Municipalities summit in Ottawa next week, hoping to spur talks on a federal component to a new funding deal.

A spokesperson from Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office told CTV Toronto Tuesday that the federal government is a “committed partner” for the city.

“We are pleased to see the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto take steps to work together, which is both appropriate and necessary,” the statement read.

“Now it’s time for the feds, frankly,” Toronto’s Chief Communications Officer Lindsay Broadhead said Tuesday.

“The City of Toronto is committed to look at itself, to make sure that we are using best and highest use of taxpayer dollars, but we also want the feds to step up.”

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