Premier announcement provides good news, bad news for municipalities

OTTAWA – It was a case of some good news and some bad news in an announcement by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who pledged to work with municipalities, while also announcing the province will move ahead with some of its controversial municipal funding cuts to public health and new child care spaces. Premier Ford spoke this week at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) general meeting.

Premier Ford addressed AMO where he committed to building strong, local partnerships with municipalities. Highlighting Ontario’s investment in local communities, the premier committed to equipping local governments with what they need to build their communities from the ground up, deliver better value for taxpayers, and build for the future.

Ian Anderson, mayor of the Township of Billings, told the Recorder on Tuesday, “what was significant for municipalities is that the province has made a commitment to the base funding (Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund) that was provided this year, for next year, which was a positive thing. The cuts they are making are less than I had anticipated.” 

“On the surface it appears municipalities fared better than expected. Overall it could have been worse,” said Mayor Anderson. 

Premier Ford announced that all municipalities will pay 30 percent of public health costs, while in the past the province had paid 100 or 75 percent, in some cases. Starting January 1, 2020, municipalities will also have to pay 20 percent of the cost of creating new child care spaces, which previously the province had funded fully. He also announced that land ambulance funding will increase by four percent, or $26 million, in 2019-2020. 

As well, the premier said the province will be providing transitional funding to municipalities as they deal with the cuts, but didn’t indicate how much this will amount to.
Michael Mantha, MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin said, “once again we see the government making cuts on the backs of the municipalities in terms of health and child care. There is to be a 30 percent cut in health care funding to municipalities that they (municipalities) will have to pick up the costs on, as well as decrease of 20 percent in child care spaces being funded.”

“Municipalities know how to make every dollar count because they know where it’s needed most,” said Premier Ford. “The province inherited a massive debt and broken system for health care, education, and social services from the previous government. The solution shouldn’t be imposing one-size-fits-all solutions from Queen’s Park. Rather, we should focus on giving our municipal partners more flexibility within their budget to protect core services.”