Backgrounder
August 23, 2004

The MOU promotes the principal of consultation between the Province of Ontario and AMOwhenever the provincial proposes statutory or regulatory changes that have a significant impact on municipal budgets.

What is the Memorandum of Understanding?
The current Memorandum of Understanding promotes the principal of consultation between the Province of Ontario and AMO whenever the provincial proposes statutory or regulatory changes that have a significant impact on municipal budgets.  This MOU commits the province to the principal of consultation, but the province is not legally bound to it.

Why is the existing MOU being renewed? The existing MOU, which must be renewed every three years, expires in 2005.  The new MOU includes a new schedule, a Protocol that sets out how the Provincial Government will consult with AMO on the Province’s discussions with the Federal Government.

Why is the MOU being enshrined into legislation?
Premier Dalton McGuinty made a promise to the 2003 AMO Conference in Toronto that, if elected, he would not only renew the MOU, but also enshrine it into binding legislation.  The pledge recognizes that changes in provincial policies can have a profound affect on the municipal order of government’s ability to finance and deliver programs and services that are essential to building strong communities. Enshrining the MOU would formally commit the province to consulting with AMO whenever statutory or regulatory changes that have a significant impact on municipal budgets are proposed by the province.  In June 2004, the McGuinty government introduced legislation that, if passed, would fulfill this promise.

What is the purpose of the Protocol that the province and AMO signed today?
A new Protocol has been added to the MOU that sets out how the province will consult with AMO on the province’s discussions with the federal government. It is an important step toward a tripartite agreement that would ensure the municipal order of government has a seat at the federal-provincial table when municipal matters are being discussed. The Protocol commits Ontario to consult with AMO on agreements with the federal government that relate to:
  • Municipal infrastructure;
  • Immigration;
  • Labour market development;
  • Housing initiatives; and
  • Any other issues significantly affecting municipalities’ current budget year or current budget planning cycle.
Under the Protocol, the provincial government has a number of objectives it will try to achieve in discussions with the federal government:
  • That Canada seek municipal input in policy and program design that has direct municipal impacts;
  • That federal programs are designed to achieve the goal of municipal fiscal sustainability;
  • That municipal priorities are respected.
AMO’s responsibilities under the Protocol are to consult municipalities, consolidate their views, align perspectives and present them to the province for discussion.  It will also be responsible for providing appropriate representatives and timely input.

Will municipalities be required to consult and negotiate with the provincial and federal orders of government through AMO?
NO.  In addition to the doors opened by the Protocol, any order of government – federal, provincial or municipal – can engage in consultation and negotiation on matters of specific interest to individual municipalities.  The Protocol within this renewed MOU simply provides a flexible framework that is intended to pave the way to a tri-partite agreement that would see municipal government at the federal-provincial table when municipal matters are discussed.

Why does AMO believe the MOU is a valuable asset to all Ontario municipalities – large and small, urban and rural and northern and southern?
The new Protocol within the MOU overcomes a number of jurisdictional hurdles and constitutional structures that complicate efforts to have meaningful tri-partite discussions between Ontario municipalities, the province and the federal government.  Ontario’s promise to ensure municipalities have a voice at the federal-provincial table announces to the federal government that the province wants all three orders of government to work cooperatively.

What’s next?
The provincial government and AMO see the Protocol as an important step toward a tripartite agreement that would ensure municipal government has a voice at the federal-provincial table when municipal matters are being discussed. In addition to pursuing this goal individually, AMO has been assured that the Province will begin negotiations with the federal government to secure such an agreement.

In addition, AMO has committed to develop an internal protocol to facilitate and encourage direct government-to-government-to-government consultation and negation on matters of specific interest to individual municipalities.