Premier Doug Ford has driven headlong into changing things in Ontario, and organizations across the province are feeling it with sweeping changes to health care, education, funding for non-profits, and so much more.
Now municipalities are starting to feel the effects of the changes and Ontario mayors aren’t happy about it.
The Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), which comprises mayors from major cities like Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto and others say the province is
“Big-city mayors from across Ontario are extremely concerned that the Government of Ontario is engaging in downloading by stealth – implementing funding and governance changes to municipalities without any
Guthrie says the millions of dollars in cuts to services like public health, policing, library services, flood management, child care and dozen of other front-line services are effectively downloading these responsibilities to municipalities, and it may force cities to raise taxes in order to keep up.
The recent Ontario budget outlined the Ford government’s intentions to maintain the status quo and not raise taxes but Guthrie says this is “disingenuous” when municipalities may have to raise taxes to make up the shortfall, resulting in tax increases, just not at the provincial level. “There is only one taxpayer,” says Guthrie.
The first line in Finance Minister Fedeli’s budget speech indicated the government would not raise taxes. The budget paper explicitly says that changes and costs need to be sustainable for both orders of government.
Guthrie says the biggest concern is the speed at which the cuts are being implemented;
“Municipalities are being notified of these changes in a piecemeal fashion through letters to
Municipalities are feeling the pinch after Ford capped gas tax funding, meaning lets money flowing to municipalities. Federal representatives have also been criticizing Ford for holding up millions in funding from the feds earmarked for municipalitiesin Ontario through a bilateral agreement to go towards transit, infrastructure and other projects.
LUMCO is asking the Government of Ontario to postpone funding cuts until at least 2020 to allow for consultation and so that the provincial government can have a “discussion with municipalities and local residents” before any changes are made or any services are effectively downgraded.