Guelph mayor proposes new tax to offer psychological well being, addictions sources

Provincial legislation is leading the mayor of Guelph to consider new taxes for additional mental health, addictions, and homelessness initiatives.

Mayor Cam Guthrie said the province has not been listening to what is needed in the community, which he believes is more resources.

In a Youtube video posted Thursday Guthrie said, “I’m going to be straight with you. I believe it’s the inaction from the province that is causing major problems in our city and we can’t ignore those issues any longer.”

During the video, he shared his plans to bring forward a new property tax levy to better address the challenges in the city.

“It’s a crisis and if we can start to actually provide a little bit of money, even though we recognize it’s the provincial jurisdiction that should be doing it, people’s lives are on the line and I think the community wants to help too,” he said.

Guthrie is proposing a 1-2 per cent tax levy on top of the 4.96 per cent property tax hike already planned for the 2023 budget.

“I’m proposing that we put that money into an identified levy so that the citizens and businesses of Guelph can clearly see that these are provincial impacts that we have no jurisdiction over,” Guthrie said.

He is calling it The Provincial Impacts Local Levy, or ‘The PILL’ for short.

“If we kinda met in the middle at 1.5 per cent, we’re probably looking at $5-$6 a month for the average assessed household in Guelph to be paying,” said Guthrie.

CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington, Helen Fishburn, called the levy a small price to pay for the greater good of the community.

“The gap between where we’re funded to provide care and the actual need in the community is really feeling like the Grand Canyon. These days we have 3,531 people waiting for care around Waterloo Wellington,” said Fishburn.

She added that she’s proud of Guelph for paving the way and is hoping other municipalities will follow and take action.

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